Fans Review The Anthology ... So Far

The long-awaited box set from Ringo's All Starr Band tours, The Anthology...So Far, was released February 5, 2001, and it is with great pleasure that we provide you -- his fans -- space to say what you think of it. Please send your comments to gshultz@airmail.net and be sure to include your name.


Review by Mary Ann Shultz
   The Ringo Starr and his All Starr Band box set, The Anthology... So Far, was released in the U K on February 5, 2001, by Eagle Records. There will no doubt be some fans who will moan about the songs excluded or find fault with some of those included, but overall these forty-seven songs are a joyous representation of the variety and spirit of the All Starr Band concerts. They capture the energy, enthusiasm, and fun of the live concerts. The sound quality is excellent and the musicianship is superb. The Anthology...So Far is guaranteed to bring a flood of fond memories to anyone who has been lucky enough to attend an All Starr Band show and make those who never did wish they had.
   The set consists of forty-seven songs on three CD’s and spans the years from 1989 to 2000 covering all six incarnations of the All Starr Band. The three CD’s are generally arranged in chronological order, the songs from the earliest shows presented first.
   Ringo has a total of fourteen songs, five on discs one and two, and four on disc three. “Don’t Go Where the Road don’t Go” and “Weight of the World” from the ‘92 album, Time Takes Time are included, but there are no songs from Vertical Man although Ringo performed “La De Da” during the ‘98 tour and “Love Me Do” from ‘98 through 2000.
   Each remaining soloing All Starr Band member, with the exception of Mark Farner and Timmy Cappello, has been represented by at least one vocal contribution, with Joe Walsh and Peter Frampton claiming three apiece.
   Nineteen of the songs, mostly those on the third CD, have not appeared on any other official release. The remainder of the songs in the box set are the same versions as are on the three previously released tour CD’s, Rykodisc’s Ringo Starr and His All Starr Band and Live from Montreux, and the Blockbuster’s Ringo Starr and his Third All Starr Band Volume One.
   The CD set is nicely packaged in a double jewel case. The front cover features a recent photo of Ringo on a blue background. The back cover gives a listing of the songs by disc and features small photos of tour books or posters from each of the six tours.
   Included is a ten page CD-sized booklet which lists the dates and members of each of the tours and displays a tiny photo and brief musical biography of every All Starr Band member. The contents of each disk is also listed giving the performer and the name of the song but omitting the source of the recording. The three pages that outline the concept of the All Starr Band and on which various members share their feelings about playing with Ringo and being part of such an august group are most the interesting. Besides the cover photo, the back being the same photo as the front, only larger, there are two small photos of Ringo in the booklet along with group photos of the first, third, and fifth All Starr Bands. There is one obvious error on the first page of the booklet when reference is made to five instead of six All Starr Band aggregations. Given the number of years that have rolled by from the time the box set was announced and its actual appearance, one wonders how long ago this section of the booklet was written.
   The contents of are as follows. Disc One: Ringo -- “It Don’t Come Easy” and “The No No Song,” Dr. John -- “Iko Iko,” Levon Helm -- “The Weight,” Nils Lofgren -- “Shine Silently,” Ringo -- “Honey Don’t,” Clarence Clemons -- “Quarter to Three,” Rick Danko -- “Raining in My Heart,” Billy Preston -- “Will It Go Round In Circles,” Joe Walsh -- “Life in the Fast Lane” and “Desperado,” Peter Frampton -- “Norwegian Wood,” Nils Lofgren -- “Walking Nerve,” John Entwistle -- “Boris the Spider,” Ringo -- “You’re Sixteen” and “Photograph.”
   Disc Two: Quincy Jones’s serious introduction from the Live in Montreux CD, Ringo -- “I’m the Greatest” and “Don’t Go Where the Road Don’t Go,” Timothy B Schmidt -- “I Cant Tell You Why,” Dave Edmunds -- “Gilrs Talk,” Felix Cavaliere -- “Groovin’,” Ringo --Act Naturally,” Randy Bachman, “Takin’ Care of Business” and “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet.” Joe Walsh -- “In the City,” Todd Rundgren -- “Bang the Drum All Day,” and “Black Maria,” Burton Cummings -- “American Woman,” Ringo -- “Weight of the World” and “Back Off Boogaloo.”
   Disk Three: Ringo -- “Yellow Submarine,” Peter Frampton -- “Show Me the Way,” Jack Bruce -- “Sunshine Of Your Love,” Dave Edmunds -- “I Hear You Knocking,” Simon Kirke -- “Shooting Star,” Ringo -- “Boys,” Peter Frampton -- “Baby I Love Your Way,” Gary Brooker “A Salty Dog,” “Jack Bruce -- “I Feel Fine,” Simon Kirke -- “All Right Now,” “Ringo -- “I Wanna Be Your Man,” Gary Brooker -- “A Whiter Shade of Pale,” Eric Carmen -- “Hungry Eyes” and “All By Myself,” Ringo -- With A Little Help From My Friends.


Review by Travis Truitt:
   Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Bands have proven to me over and over again that "the old guys can still rock," and this compilation totally captures the excitement, memories, and great music of their live performances. The sheer volume of the three discs of music as well as the fine packaging make this anthology far more satisfying than any of the individual All-Starr albums.
   Disc Three is far and away my favorite. I'm in favor of making Jack Bruce and Simon Kirke permanent All-Starrs. Who knew that Kirke would not only make a perfect drumming partner for Ringo but also sing his Free and Bad Company hits "All Right Now" and "Shooting Star" so well? Those are two of the biggest highlights captured here. Bruce is simply "the man." His bass playing is phenomenal and his Cream performances totally rock. "I Hear You Knocking" by Dave Edmunds and Gary Brooker's beautiful "A Whiter Shade of Pale" are also stand-outs, but really I love all of Disc Three because Peter Frampton and Eric Carmen were also great.
My other favorite songs and performances are Levon Helm's "The Weight," Joe Walsh's Eagles hit "Life in the Fast Lane," Randy Bachman's B.T.O. songs, and, of course, "American Woman."
   Of Ringo's performances, the most important to me is "With A Little Help From My Friends," which is not only my favorite Ringo song, but also the perfect symbol of the All-Starr concept. I think the performance captured is absolutely beautiful. The intro is mellow, with Mark Rivera playing bongos, and Ringo's singing sounds so genuine and on the mark, and when the backing vocalists join in on the line "I get by with a little help from my friends" the first time, they perfectly compliment Ringo as if it's one strong voice, and it's a truly great and powerful moment, and Edmunds' guitar solo later in the song is also fantastic.
   The first All-Starr Band on Disc One performs flawless, spirited renditions of "It Don't Come Easy," "The No-No Song," and "Photograph. "The versions of "Boys" and "I Wanna Be Your Man" definitely capture the raw, ragged, and rocking sounds of the early Beatles.
   The only slight negatives about this Anthology are the presence of microphone feedback on a few songs on Disc Two and the omission (almost certainly due to time constraints) of Frampton's "Do You Feel Like I Do" and Bruce's "White Room," which were unbelievable jams to watch and great vehicles to demonstrate Ringo's drumming prowess.
   But I don't want to complain. It's Ringo Starr, and it's three discs of great music. Everyone should own it!


Review by Steven B. Topping
   Drumheads have been waiting quite awhile for this. (Drumheads do a lot of waiting. Their patience is only exceeded by their dedication and love of all things Ringo.) Ringo first announced this in an Internet chat in 1999! After one false alarm from Amazon.com.uk, this wonderful box of magic finally found its way to my mailbox from the good people at Megaworld (in advance of the announced release date).
It's very attractively packaged, with a nice booklet with, a brief rundown of the tours, and band bios, thankfully without the usual typos from the previous ASB releases (copied straight from the tour programs). (One error from Felix Cavaliere's bio: "Only a Lonely Heart Sees" was not a Rascals' classic - it was Felix's solo hit - nor is it on TASF.) The one drawback is that the performances aren't attributed to any particular ASB, though that's not really hard to figure out.
   On to the music! While disc one may be my least favorite, possibly due to over familiarity, since all the tracks are from the three previous ASB releases with the exception of "Norwegian Wood" from the Pine Knob video. Or it could be my not being able to attend the first two tours. (Nowhere near, unfortunately.) But it seems it might be Ringo's fave, judging by including all the tracks from the first ASB album (thus causing that released to rank along with "Blast From Your Past" and "Starr Struck" as being somewhat less than absolutely essential).
   And I have to say it, the first disc is drum heaven. Check out the interplay between Ringo, Levon Helm and Jim Keltner on "Iko Iko" and "Will It Go 'Round in Circles", and Ringo and Zak on "Boris the Spider".
   Things pick up (from perfection!) on the second disc with some new tracks, "Groovin'" (actually a melody with "My Girl"), "Act Naturally", and "Takin' Care of Business" (with many solos from various All Starrs, alas, no drum solo!) from Budokan, and "Back Off Boogaloo" from somewhere on the 10th Anniversary tour. (I get a kick out of Felix Cavaliere not singing the line that people misunderstand in "Groovin'".) The rest of the disc is made up tracks from the 2nd and 3rd ASB releases.
   Now comes my favorite - disc 3! Most of the tracks are from the Pine Knob video (still great even without the visual element), and the true highlight for me, "I Hear You Knocking", "Boys", "Hungry Eyes", "All By Myself", and "With a Little Help From My Friends" from Summerfest 2000 in Milwaukee - and I was there! (It was already my favorite ASB concert.) A bit of drum heaven carries over here on "Sunshine of Your Love" with Ringo and Simon Kirke sounding like thundering horses.
   There are so many great tracks on this box set, it would be hard to pick out an MVP All Starr (besides Ringo)...and time and space consuming. Many examples of why the ASB is an excellent concept that works. Besides Ringo being in better voice than ever. But one of the best examples is the least obvious, "All By Myself". Listen to the great drum work, Jack Bruce's cello-like bass playing, Dave Edumunds' slide guitar (the solo always seemed George-inspired in the first place), and Eric Carmen playing his soul and fingers out for a bunch of assorted drunks and assembled Drumheads. A fine memory digitally captured for eternity.
   Unlike most live albums, this doesn't try to pretend it's a faithful representation of a concert (since most aren't anyway), rather each disc is assembled to be a complete listening experience. It works.
   Like Travis, I'd also like to have seen "White Room" and "Do You Feel Like I Do" included, as those were two of the best examples of ASB at their finest, utilizing rarely credited improvisational skills, and yes, really truly jamming. (ASB, the true jam band.) If I were putting this together, I'd probably have picked different numbers, but I also would have put together a 6-disc set. (Here's hoping for a bonus disc at Best Buy when the US release comes out.) As live albums go, TASF certainly ranks with "Wings Over America", "Live Peace in Toronto", George's "Live in Japan" and even "Live at the Hollywood Bowl"...with one crucial difference. Much more Ringo! And quite honestly, I've probably listened to TASF more than any disc in recent memory. (Dredging my memory, I can only recall listening to the White Album, "Abbey Road" or "Sgt. Pepper" more.)
   Now we Drumheads have discs of jaw-dropping wonderfulness to listen while waiting for the next tour.


Review by HeyJude:
   I just recently managed to pick up the 3-CD The Anthology...So Far set, so I thought I'd contribute some thoughts on it for those who haven't found it yet and/or are considering whether to buy it or not. I found this set in the US as a Swedish import (and have also seen it as a UK import).
    My overall impression of the set is that it's a nice set, and the overall presentation and sound quality is excellent. However, as a pretty big fan of Ringo and the All-Starr Band, I do have some gripes with some of the song selections in terms of inclusions and non-inclusions on this set.
    First, the problems I have with what is included on this set: It's unfortunate that a lot of the first two discs of the set are rehashed material from the three released live albums (the two Rykodisc albums and the Blockbuster album). Surely, a good percentage of people who might buy this set already own those albums. At the same time, in order to be an inclusive and exhaustive anthology, they do have to use material from all of the different band members.
    As for what isn't on this set that should be, I think there are a few things. First, my personal preference is that the two songs that were slated to be included (Gary Brooker's "The Devil Came From Kansas" and "Conquistador") but booted off in favor or the two Eric Carmen's songs should have been included, particularly in lieu of so much of the material on the set having already been released on previous live albums. I'm not saying they should have elbowed Carmen's songs. But they could have elbowed one or two songs from the first two discs that already appeared on one of the other live albums.
    Beyond that, there is the issue of no material being included from the '98 or '99 tours. "La De Da" from the '98 tour would have been nice, especially since US fans never got to hear the ASB do that song live. Todd Rundgren's "I Saw the Light" from '99 would have been nice. In choosing the Eric Carmen numbers, I thought his definite highlight on the 2000 tour was "Go All the Way", but this wasn't included.
    On the other hand, the pick of the Ringo tracks was overall quite good. The inclusion of "Don't Go Where the Road Don't Go" and "Weight of the World" is refreshing (setting aside the fact that they are both on the second Rykodisc album). I'm a big fan especially of the '97 band, so I would have loved to see just a 2-CD set release of the full show from that tour alone. But as a big fan of that year's band (and the '99 and 2000 band), I have to admit that it was relatively generous to give a full 1/3 of the set (the full third disc, plus one song on the first disc) to only the '97 and 2000 tours.
    Overall, the sound quality is excellent. The mix on the '97 material is nice and even. Not too dry, very live sounding. It is true that Ringo's live albums, and in particular this set, do sound a lot more "live" than live releases from Paul McCartney or George Harrison. The 2000 material is mixed more dry and up front, but it still sounds good, crisp and clear.
    The only other problem I can see is that the performances aren't identified on the set, and they aren't perfectly in chronological order. They are generally, but some things are out of order like Frampton's "Norwegian Wood" or John Entwistle's "Boris the Spider" on Disc 1 preceding the '92 tour material on Disc 2. Several sources, most notably "Beatlefan" magazine, have published info identifying all of the performances (including details like Ringo's introduction being from one tour, but the song being from a different tour), so people who buy this set might want to search that out. Also of note is that all of the songs are cross-faded, so that is a bit confusing for the listener. But that isn't much of an issue.
    So I would say that despite the fact that a lot of the material on this set is rehashed from the past three released live albums, fans of Ringo and the ASB should still pick this set up. I think they will still enjoy it very much. My review here may sound critical, but that's just because I'm such a big fan of Ringo and the ASB so I suppose I have high standards for how the material is released. But I'm very happy that this set got released at all, so in the end this set is a good thing.


Review by Al
If you want some great traveling music while on a long trip, this is a GREAT CD to keep you awake. A REAL ROCKER......Classic RINGO and ASB......so much fun to listen to and take your mind back to the great live shows that we were lucky enough to see......and to have friends take a listen to see what they missed.....

 

 

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This page was last updated February 28, 2001.