Ringo Starr's "Bad Boy"

Editor's Note: During January, we featured Ringo's Bad Boy album. Please tell us what you like or don't like about the album and rank it from 1 ( positively awful) to 10 (great beyond your wildest dreams). Fans' reviews follow the General Commentary. Send your comments to gshultz@airmail.net , and be sure to include your name. Click here to read reviews of other Ringo albums.


General Commentary

The poor showing of Ringo the 4th convinced the executives at Atlantic to release Ringo from his contract with them. Since the deal with Polydor was still intact for the rest of the world, Ringo only needed to find a label for the US. He finally signed with CBS's Portrait, a label associated with prestige acts.
The new album, Ringo Bad Boy Starr, was quickly put together so it's release could coincide with the April 26, 1978, broadcast of the NBC television special, Ringo, which was based loosely on Mark Twain's classic The Prince and the Pauper. For the special Ringo played the dual roles of himself, the rich and famous pop star, and his alter ego, the shy and downtrodden Ognir Rrats. Special guests included George Harrison, Art Carney, Carrie Fisher, John Ritter, Vincent Price, and Angie Dickenson. The finale of the show featured Ringo and his Roadside Attraction band, performing "live" versions of three selections from Bad Boy: "Heart on My Sleeve," "Who Needs A Heart," and "A Man Like Me."
The other six songs on the album are: "Bad Boy," "Lipstick Traces," "Where Did Our Love Go," "Tonight,." "Monkey See-Monkey Do," and "Old Time Relovin."
Bad Boy was recorded in studios in the Bahamas and Canada. This time Ringo's friend and writing partner Vini Poncia acted as producer with Richard Starkey MBE being credited as associate producer. However, only two of the released songs, "Who Needs a Heart" and "Old Time Relovin" are Starkey/Poncia compositions.
Released in both the US and UK on April 21, 1978, Ringo Bad Boy Starr did better than it's immediate predecessor peaking at number 129 in the UK. "Lipstick Traces" was selected to be the first single and after its April eighteenth US release date, crept into the top 100. The following singles "Heart on My Sleeve" in the US and "Tonight" in the UK did not make it that far.
Critical reaction to the album was gerneally luke warm. The harshest criticism came from Rolling Stone Magazine, which described Bad Boy as "not even passable cocktail music." However, as Alan Clayson writes in Ringo Starr Straight Man of Joker, "This was a harsh dismissal because....Bad Boy was a more idiosyncratic if warmer work than either of Mardin's squeaky-clean Atlantic albums." The tracks are well played even if some of them lack the sparkle and charm of Ringo.
Bad Boy yielded three songs deemed worthy of inclusion on the greatest hits volume 2 Starrstruck compilation. These were, "Heart On My Sleeve," "Who Needs a Heart," and "Hard Times." The CD version of Bad Boy remains true to the original with no added tracks.
The cover artwork of both the album and CD shows the beringed hands of the drummer --one in repose and the other holding a glass of champaign. In a 1978 promotional appearance on Phil Donahue's talk show, Ringo attempted to explain it's significance.. "What the cover means, Ringo Bad Boy Starr, he's got all the gold and his glass of champagne, he's such a show off. You have to be a bit of a bad boy to make the gold." Ringo then went on to define his entry into the ranks of bad boys by explaining how at age twenty, against his parents' wishes, he left his apprentice job at a factory to become a full time musician. "That's why you have to say, `I'm sorry, Mom, I'm off.'"



Fans Reviews

It's interesting-I actually haven't heard Bad Boy for a long time, since I've converted to CD's only. I rememeber really liking the album when it first came out, especially "Heart On My Sleeve." I was a new Ringo fan at the time, and really hadn't liked his previous 2 LP's. This album was particularly meaningful to me, because it came out right before my 16th birthday, and the Ringo special was on the night before that birthday. I'm going to have to go get me a copy of the CD! :-) I'd rate it a 7, because nothing can really compare to the "Ringo" album!

~Debbie Dennis

I know BAD BOY is the album of the month. Although it is a disco-(mis)oriented effort, I still like many of the tracks, specially WHO NEEDS A HEART (another song half-penned by Ringo), HEART ON MY SLEEVE, HARD TIMES, TONIGHT and WHERE DID OUR LOVE GO. The latter two may not survive some critics, but "Tonight" with all its simplicity has Ringo singing one of his most romantic moments and "Where Did..." is pure fun trying to mix a 50's girl group sound with the lavishly-cheap productions of the later 70's disco pop. All in all, I give BAD BOY 5 out of 10.

Leonardo Ledesma of Lima, Peru

I really enjoyed this album when it was originally released.  I thought that Ringo sang well and in a much more laid back fashion which I've always felt was much more in tune with his vocal qualities.

I really didn't need to hear Ringo straining through Drowning In A Sea Of Love and this album avoided that type of pitfall.  Vini Poncia's production was smooth and although I've yet to pick up the CD re-issue,
I will do so when the opportunity should next arise.

My personal favourites on the LP were "Heart On My Sleeve", "Who Needs A Heart" and "Lipstick Traces". I would rate it 6 out of 10.

~ David Bailey,

The album is OK, nothing more. Three excellent songs, (Heart On My Sleeve, Hard times, Who needs a heart) Three quite good songs (Lipstick Traces, Old Time Relovin', A Man Like Me) and four songs that are nothing special, though they were not as disasterous as some of the songs on his previous LP. Ringo sing quite well, we get the feeling that the songs mean something personal to him, allthough he has not written them himself..Bad boy was released at the same time as Wings' London Town, and I always prefered Bad Boy, because, if it was not so very clever, it had an air of honesty. All in all I'd give Bad Boy 5 out of 10.

~ Robert Wasa

I don't like that album! I mean, I don't like this Cd too much! I give a 5 to "Bad boy".Best regards to Ringo's fans.
~ Raul Antonio, Brasilian's drummer.

Ringo Starr's album Bad Boy is not one of his strongest efforts.  The album has only ten songs, and of those ten, only two were written or co-written by Ringo.  Bad Boy is a decent record to listen to; none of the songs are offensive, but none of them is that great.  The title track is kind of strange because the music and the lyrics don't really create an image of a true "bad boy," and the picture on the album doesn't really make me think of a "bad boy" either.  "Lipstick Traces" is my favorite song on the album.  Even though it is a bit repetitive and almost overly sentimental, I still really like Tonight."  In my opinion, "Who Needs a Heart," "Heart On My Sleeve," and "Hard Times" are the best of the rest, and the cover version of "Where Did Our Love Go"
is pretty good.  I enjoy listening to Bad Boy, but its appeal is probably limited to true fans of Ringo Starr, as nothing on the album is
really strong enough to appeal to a new audience.  I would rate Bad Boy as a five.

~ Travis Truitt   

I heard this after Ringo The 4th and was expecting something even worse. Thank God I was wrong! Tonight is one of my favourite songs from the 70s, and Old Time Relovin', Lipstick Traces and Heart On My Sleeve are great too! The cover is better too, and this was a really refreshing album after the last one! 6.5/10
~Stephen Bray
Liverpool, England

This guy played on the White Album?!?!?

C'mon people, lets keep it in perspective.  This is a crappy album of crappy music planned by blockhead music excecutives (the type that inspired the fabs to create APPLE) and recorded by Ringo when he was drunk out of his mind.  HE'S OLDING A DRINK ON THE ALBUM COVER FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!

I can think of no reason, nastolgic or otherwise, for me ever to play this album.  It's not even campy or "so bad you gotta here it". It's just dull.

The sad thing is I'm basically a person who looks for some good in any
artistic endeaver (or I wouldn't be on this page discussing this).

Anyone giving this a 5 should really go cold turkey (sorry) for a while and listen to some opera,  or Beethoven, or Billie Holliday,  ...or the White Album. I give it a 2 because part of it was recorded in CANADA.

~ Jeff Scott
Toronto Ontario Canada (Still the land of Ringo lovers)


"Bad Boy" or bad choices?  At the time this came out, most Ringophiles, including myself, thought this was an improvement over '"Ringo The Fourth". Wrong.  This continues the band orientation of the previous effort, strips it down and follows through for the whole album with Ringo's Roadside Attraction (with Keith Allison, Dr. John, Lon Van Eaton and Dee Murray, and just Ringo on drums!).  (Anyone else remember the tour idea?)  I believe Ringo was/is more in control of his career than he's given credit for.  And it seems the decision was made that the previous album was not Ringo enough.  True, maybe, but it was much more Richard Starkey.  And perhaps Vini and Ringo could do a better job than anyone else.  However, songwise they seem to have shot their wad last time out.  And as a student of Phil Spector and Richard Perry, Vini was not head of the class.  (Funny how Vini disappeared after this.)  This could probably be divided in two - between Ringo and Richard.
"Who Needs A Heart?"  is the good original song.  Aces.  This is a Richard song, uptempo and downbeat at the same time.  "Bad Boy", "Lipstick Traces", "Where Did Our Love Go?", "Monkey See - Monkey Do" (Ringo changed the "Arabs and like Jews" to "me and you know who"), and "Old Time Relovin'" (edited for a B side?).  Ringo may have been in full control of his albums, but whoever was picking singles for him like "Lipstick Traces" was probably Elvis' A&R man for the latter part of his career.  The rest, even though  Ringo didn't write any of them, are more the real man behind the puppet.  (I lived in Southern Cali in '78, and there was a radio station that played "Tonight" quite frequently.  Quite touching.)  Maybe it was time to put the puppet to bed.
This is my least favourite Ringo album, but it still has some of my favorite Ringo songs on it.  Which means I still prefer listening to it over just about anything else.  Except for....after having listened to my crappy cassette copy of the "Ringo" tv special many times over the years, the soundtrack would have made a better album.  

~ Steven B. Topping

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This page was last updated Nov. 14, 1998.