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'Storytellers' Video Released Nov. 10
The 'Storytellers' video, which includes additional footage of Ringo and the band performing "Photograph," was released on Nov. 10. It is available from www.amazon.com, among others.
'Storytellers' Album Released Oct. 20
Ringo's performance on VH-1's "Storytellers" was released on cassette and CD on Oct. 20 by Mercury Records. The album runs somewhat longer than the show and includes the following songs:
Ringo TV Appearances Scheduled
Ringo made the following TV appearances:
"Vertical Man" Debutes
Mercury Records released Ringo's new album, Vertical Man, on June 16. Fans (click to read their comments) overwhelmingly praise Vertical Man as the best album Ringo has published in a long time. Click Here to read Mercury's news release, including a list of the songs that appear on the album. Best Buy is selling a "bonus" CD to the first 30 customers at most local stores, and Amazon Books is selling a Japanese edition.
Dean Grakal, who co-wrote nine songs on Vertical Man, says, "I was reading the fans reviews, and I can't tell you how happy it makes me to see the positive response it's been getting. I can tell you first hand Ringo is ecstatic with its acceptance so far. Just keep spreading the word, and I think this record will prove to have a long life." Click here to read Dean's account of the recording sessions. (Photo at right from a VM session courtesy of Dean Grakal, pictured at center).
"Vertical Man" Updates
The Hanson brothers make a cameo appearance
in the La De Da video. In keeping with the spirit of the song,
a group of young fans go wild over the three bothers while Ringo is ignored.
Steven Tylers lead vocal on a verse of Drift Away has been replaced by Tom Petty. Ringo said in an interview with radio shock jock Howard Stern that Tyler called after the song was mastered and asked to be taken off but he has yet to receive a full explanation as to why.
European Tour Aug. 7-Sept. 5
The 1998 edition of Ringo Starr and the All Starr Band toured Europe.
Click Here for schedule details. The Band was
composed of the same band members who toured with Ringo on the 1997 Tour, including
Peter Frampton on guitar, Gary Brooker on keyboards, Jack Bruce on bass,
Simon Kirke on drums. You may also wish to visit David Fishof Presents official
The Luxembourg performance scheduled for Aug. 15 was cancelled because of a problem with the promoter, according to a tour official.
Band Gets New Harmonica Man
We understand that Scott Gordon, the chief sound engineer for Vertical Man, was added to the All-Starr European tour roster to play harmonica. If you saw VH1 Storytellers, he played the harmonica on Love Me Do and plays a mean harmonica. In addition to working with all "The Greats" on Ringo's album and engineering other various albums, Scott has worked and played with some of Rock & Roll's legends: Graham Nash, Carole King, Robbie Krieger (played harmonica with the Doors/Eddie Vedder at the Hall of Fame induction) and even Cher. No word yet if Scott will be joining a US tour, if there will be one.
Ringo participated in a "chat" on AOL on June 17 at 7 p.m.
The transcript is available at http://www.polygram-us.com/ringo/message.html
For those of you who are AOL members, you can find it in the AOL archives
by starting with the keyword "Live."
- The first single on Ringo's new album, according to Matt Hurwitz of Good Day Sunshine Magazine, will be "La De Da," which he describes as "a wonderful singalong favorite featuring Paul on background vocals. At present, Mercury is not certain if the song will be released as a commercial single, though it will be serviced to radio, and a video is being made. If released commercially, it will likely appear around June 9, a week ahead of the album." Matt also quoted Producer Mark Hudson as saying that bonus tracks for the disc, "if released as such, will likely be a nice bluesy track called 'Everyday,' and the catchy 'Mr. Doubleitup,' two of the four tracks left over from the sessions." (Matt requested that this information not be quoted or reposed without his permission.)
- For an interesting account of what went on in producing the album, read Rip Rense's article in the March 4 edition of The Denver Post by clicking here, or go to the bottom of this page.
From the March 4,1998, edition of The Denver Post:
"Weird Pairings on New Album"
by Rip Rense
It's the weirdest pairing since Fay Wray and King Kong, Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley, Luciano Pavarolli and Sting . . . Ringo Starr and Alanis Morissette!
Yes, lovable old (57!) Ringo and that jagged little pill, Morissette share lead vocals on a remake of the old Dobie Gray hit, "Drift Away,'' on Starr's new album, "Vertical Man,'' due in April from Capitol. The weirdness doesn't end there. On the same song, Alanis and Ringo share vocals with the most iconographic rock 'n' roll mouth since Mick Jagger - Aerosmith's Steven Tyler.
And if this is still not bizarre enough for you, try this: Ringo Starr and Ozzy Osbourne. Yes, the album's title track is a duet between the old Beatle and the old heavy metal bat-eater. In fact, "Vertical Man's'' line-up of guest musicians is one for the record books: Morissette, Tyler, Osbourne, George Harrison, Sir Paul McCartney, Brian Wilson, Steve Cropper, Van Dyke
Parks, Eagles Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmidt, Beatles arranger Sir George
Martin, the Stone Temple Pilots' Scott Wieland . . .
But there's more than guest-star gimmickry at work here. Starr, working with producer and one-time Hudson Brother Mark Hudson (check your trivia books under "Beatles-influenced groups with NBC summer replacement series in the '70s''), has turned out what is certainly his most ambitious work since the hit 1974 "Ringo'' album, if not the Fab Four.
Consider this glowing praise from no less a critical authority than Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick, who worked on almost every Beatles recording session 1962-69, many Beatles solo recordings, and who mixed the new album: "It's the best stuff Ringo's ever done. It's the most energetic singing he's ever done. I think it's definitely his best work since the Beatles, and
he thinks so, too.''
This would be news. Given Starr's problematic recording career, many who might wonder, what could be could be more inconsequential - especially after all the "Beatles Anthology'' media blitz - than a new Ringo Starr album? (Possible answer: a new Pete Best album.) The drummer's solo
records fall into two categories: upbeat fun, and, well, something far in the opposite direction. On the plus side have been zippy hits like "It Don't Come Easy,'' "Photograph,'' and the pageant-like "Ringo'' album in 1974 (the only post-Beatles LP to feature all four Fabs). On the (longer) negative side, are dismal ventures such as the disco album, "Ringo the Fourth,'' and the MOR "Bad Boy,'' both from the late '70s.
The new project falls decidedly in the former category. "Vertical Man'' is a triumphant return to form. At its best, it is Ringo at his best. At its worst, it is, well, upbeat fun. Hudson, who has written songs for Celine Dion, Aerosmith ( "Livin' on the Edge''), and recently produced the Hanson Christmas album, set his sights for the Ringo project very, very high: "We
wanted this to be Ringo's "Sgt. Pepper.' ''
The album's 14 tracks (17 were recorded during the sessions) are lavishly produced, with all manner of exotic effects and instruments reminiscent of "Pepper,'' from Indian sarods to - shades of "Strawberry Fields Forever'' - a Mellotron. Starr's drumming is sharp, and Emerick noted that both McCartney and Harrison were surprised at the energy and skill of his singing, notably on tracks like "Mindfield'' and the ballad, "I'm Yours,'' dedicated to his wife, Barbara Bach.
Hudson and Starr wrote all the songs with the drummer's longtime friend Dean Grakal and guitarist Steve Dudas. Some of the standouts: "Mindfield'' (with Morissette, Tyler, and Wieland on background vocals), a rollicking rocker with daffy, free-associative words reminiscent of John Lennon's writing (sample: "e-mail, junk mail/ man becomes a female . . .''), and some twists and turns worthy of a Beatles single; "King of Broken Hearts,'' a country-tinged ballad, with some gorgeous slide guitar work by Harrison; "La De Da,'' a sweet, whimsical shuffle; "Without Understanding,'' an infectious number featuring trademark Beach Boys-style multi-layered background vocals by Wilson, who at one point sings "no good vibrations''; "Drift Away''; "What in the World,'' with McCartney on bass and vocals; and - here's a treat for Beatles fans - a remake of the group's first single, "Love Me Do.'' Hudson explains the last choice:
"You remember the story, about how Ringo didn't play on the 'Love Me Do' session (new to the Beatles, he was replaced by a studio drummer on the single version). It's always been a kind of joking sore point with Ringo. So he did it. We rocked it. Rolling Stones on steroids. When Steven Tyler heard Ringo wanted him to play blues harp on it, he flew in from Holland.''
There is more on the album that evokes memories of the Beatles, aside from the presence of McCartney and Harrison. "Mindfield's'' driving guitars sound a bit like the guitar lines in the Fab's "Rain.'' Martin's string arrangement on "I'm Yours'' is as pretty as his writing on the Beatles' "Golden Slumbers.'' Ringo's voice occasionally has an echoey effect similar to Lennon's on ""Come Together.'' But if "Vertical Man'' sounds Beatle-esque, there's a good reason:
"When we went to McCartney's house, we played "What in the World' for Paul to hear,'' Hudson remembered. "And Paul looked at Ringo and said, "you know, it's kind of Beatle-ish.' And Ringo said, "I know, it sort of scares me.' Paul looked at him and said, "Well, you're a
Beatle!' And that's what I was trying to say - we all get blamed for ripping you guys off, but you don't have to worry about it. You were the guys that did it!''
Hudson met Ringo last year, and the two fell together writing "King of Broken Hearts.'' That session led to the album, which takes its name from a quote Ringo admired about being appreciated while you're still alive: "We always praise a man when he's horizontal. Let us praise the Vertical Man.'' It was Hudson's idea to do a "three generations of rock and roll''
version of "Drift Away.''
How did Starr and Morissette get along?
"They hit it off,'' he said. "With what's going on in her life, the success of her record, there are not many people she can talk to who've had that kind of success. This business can really overwhelm you. Alanis and Ringo had a private conversation about that sort of outlook. Obviously, a Beatle is a pretty good guy to get some insight from into the perils of fame. The day she showed up, Ringo said, "there's a microphone,'' and she said, "cool'' and just went up and did it. You know, she showed up, everybody hugged and kissed, lit some incense and boom. She called later and wanted to come back.''
The beret-crowned Hudson, a prolific tune smith with a loopy wit, plays bass, guitar and keyboards on "Man,'' which was recorded mostly in, well, a hole-in-the-wall in West Los Angeles. Specifically, Hudson's tiny office, right above a Thai restaurant and a liquor store on Santa Monica Boulevard. Grungy, garage-band environs for a Beatle?
"It was Ringo's request,'' said Hudson. "I'm a garage band guy. We were just going to demo the songs there, but he loved the vibes so much, he said "I don't want to go any place else,' so he brought his drums over - the same old silver-and-black Ringo kit, from "Ed Sullivan' and everywhere else. I've been charging people $5.50 to sit behind them and get their
The neighborhood ambience was captured on the album, at the end of the song, "Mindfield,'' in the form of angry footsteps clomping down the hall outside Hudson's office. The feet belonged the owner of the Thai restaurant downstairs. Seems the lady was tired of all that nasty rock 'n' roll drumming upstairs, and she wanted it to stop this instant. No matter whose drums were makin' the racket. How did Ringo take it?
"He wanted to get arrested,'' said Hudson, laughing. "He was always disappointed that the Beatles didn't get arrested when they played the rooftop concert in "Let It Be.' You know, they all wanted to be dragged off.''
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Page last updated November 21, 1998.