Goodnight Vienna

Editor's Note: During December 1998, we featured Goodnight Vienna. 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 , and be sure to include your name. Click here to read reviews of other Ringo albums.

General Commentary

The summer of ‘74 saw Ringo back at Sunset Sound Studios ready to begin work on his new project, Goodnight Vienna. Still riding high on the success of the Ringo album, Ringo and producer Richard Perry decided to repeat the “cast of thousands” approach that had served them so well the year before.

This time, however, perhaps not wishing to appear too dependent on his old bandmates, Ringo elected to forge ahead without the help of George Harrison and Paul McCartney. Bob Woffinden in The Beatles Apart opined that, “This was a ridiculous and uncharacteristically conceited mistake for Ringo to make. The whole point is that he always was going to make it with a little help from his friends.” Nevertheless, the only former Fab to participate on this album was John Lennon.

It was John’s idea that Ringo sing the 1950’s Platters’ hit “Only You.” To this end, he provided a guide recording of the song and even played guitar on Ringo’s version of it. John also wrote and provided the piano accompaniment for the title song “Goodnight Vienna.”

Other friends contributed songs written especially for Ringo’s new album. Harry Nilsson provided the ballad “Easy for Me.” Elton John and Bernie Taupin came up with a song about a working class Northerner called “Snookeroo.” The “ No No Song,” which Ringo admits means more to him now, was written by Hoyt Aston and David Jackson.

Goodnight Vienna also features “All By Myself” and “Oo-Wee,” two more songs written by the team of Starkey/Poncia. ( The latter of the two perhaps reflecting Ringo’s new attitude of semi-self-sufficiency.) There is also the solo Starkey composition of “Call Me.”

Rounding out the album are the cover versions of Roger Miller’s “Husbands and Wives” and Allen Toussaint’s “Occapella.”

Almost as much planning went into the cover of the LP as went into the album itself. The sleeve features a still up of the 1950’s movie The Day the Earth Stood Still complete with spaceship, the robot Gort, and Ringo as the alien Klatu. Ringo explains, “I was at my friend Harry Nilsson’s house in LA, and he had some pictures from The Day the Earth Stood Still color yet... and I took one look and said ‘that’s the still.’ It fit right in with the title, Goodnight Vienna, which is an old Northern saying that means “I’m leaving here.” Because when you finish an album, that’s just how you feel. Like you want to take a trip to Mars just to get away.”

As part of Capitol Record’s promotional effort, a bigger-than- life replication of the cover shot was ordered. Mobile Productions Systems fashioned a 23-foot-high, 650-pound Ringo; a 30-foot, 850-pound Gort; and a 10-foot, 800-pound space craft which were helicoptered to the top of the Capitol Tower in LA. It was there that the promo for “Only You” was filmed.

In his book, Tell Me Why, Tim Riley suggests that despite “the contributions from crack songwriters,” the tracks on Goodnight Vienna “sound more thrown away on Ringo than tailored for him.” Due to the inclusion of slower songs such as “Husband and Wives,” “Call Me,” and “Easy for Me,” Goodnight Vienna has a more ballady feel than its predecessor. However the album still made a good showing in the charts.

Goodnight Vienna was released on November 15, 1974, in the UK where it reached a high of number of 30 on the charts. The album fared better in the USA where after its November 18 release, it remained in the charts for twenty-four weeks and peaked at number 8. The album produced three singles in Great Britain, “Only You,” which reached number twenty-eight , “Snookeroo,” and “Oh My My.” Like the album, the singles released in the US did better. “Only You” reached the number six spot, “The No No Song” peaked at number three, and “Goodnight Vienna” made it as high as number thirty-one.

The CD was released in 1992 with three bonus tracks. “Back off Boogaloo,” written by Ringo and produced by George Harrison, was originally released in 1972 as Ringo’s second hit single. It rose to the number two position in the British charts and number nine in America. Ringo wrote the second bonus track, “Blindman,” in 1971 for the movie of the same name. The CD closes with the extended version of Paul McCartney’s “Six O’Clock” from the Ringo album.


Fans Reviews

Strange, am I the only person who actually likes this album ? I do agree that it is a more uneven affair than "RINGO", but it is nevertheless well worth a listen. It's quite a rocky affair, not so lighthearted as its predecessor. The tracks Goodnight Vienna, Snookeroo, Oo-wee, Ocapella and No No Song (+ Back Off Boogaloo & Six o'clock on the CD verson) are easily the best, these track are, in my opinion, among the best Ringo has ever done. Then there are the tracks Only You, All By Myself (+ Blindman) all of which are just all right. This leaves us with three tracks, (Husbands and Wives, CallMe & Easy For Me) that probably would be best left off the album. These songs don't really suit Ringo's voice. However, Goodnight Vienna is a great album when programmed to omit these three tracks. I still listen to it every now and then, it is a pleasant record that gets me in a good mood. And the playing throughout is more than compentent, with a lot of good spirit an enthusiasm. By the way, Goodnight Vienna is one of my favorites from my youth, and I would recommend it to anybody at any time. I'd give it a 7 out of ten.
~ Rob Wasa

I'm a brazilian drummer, and a great Ringo's fan. I really like Goodnight
vienna and i think that Ringo's drumming perfectly, specially "oo wee " ,
"snookeroo ". I would like to give my e-mail :
Please,Ringo's fans, contact me,ok? bye
~ Raul Antonio

I really like the album Goodnight Vienna. It has alot of catchy, hummable tunes that are good for a listen when you're feeling a bit
down. The title track starts the record off great! That piano bit rocks, and makes the song really stick in your mind. And the reprise at the end just makes you want to flip the album over and start all over again!

Of course, I like all of the songs on the album, but "Oo-Wee" and "The No-No Song" are a couple of the best, in my opinion. Ringo really seems to be having alot of fun on this album, and it kind of transfers onto you while you listen.

Even though it isn't technically one of his best albums, Goodnight Vienna still has a place in my heart, if just because it's a nice
change from the ordinary... where else can you find a slightly off-key rendition of "Only You" or "Husbands & Wives"...? I give it an 8.

~ Jennifer R.

Ringo Starr's Goodnight Vienna, like his previous album, features many famous guest musicians and has several memorable songs.  Overall the album isn't quite as strong as "Ringo," but it's still very good. 
Probably the most enjoyable song is the "No No Song," which is humorous, catchy, and has a reggae-type sound.  Once Ringo sought help for his alcoholism, the lyrics have taken on a whole new and serious meaning, yet it remains a great song for Ringo to perform and is still quite enjoyable to listen to.  I also enjoy John Lennon's contribution, "Goodnight Vienna," which is a great rocker.  My other favorite on this
album is "All By Myself," which I enjoy thoroughly.  Ringo co-wrote the song with Vini Poncia, and he sounds very confident, a confidence probably inspired by the overwhelming success of his first rock album and his two number-one singles.  I don't think "Occapella," "Oo-Wee," and "Easy For Me" were the greatest songs for a singer like Ringo to sing, but overall Goodnight Vienna is one of Ringo's best.  I love the extended version of "Six O'Clock," included as a cd bonus track, because of the obvious enjoyment that Paul McCartney and Ringo felt in recording the song, which can be heard in their playful and excited vocals at the song's conclusion.  I would rate Goodnight Vienna as an eight.
~ Travis Truitt

It's a definite come down after Ringo, but it's still extremely listenable - I don't remember about half the songs on here, but I think H&W is the worst. However, Goodnight Vienna, Snookeroo, and the No No Song are extremely enjoyable, especially Snookeroo, which really should have been the first single, instead of Only You, no matter how good that cover is. However, I LOVE the cover of the album, and I think I can find it in my heart to give it 7/10
~ Stephen Bray
Liverpool, England

Ringo albums should have gotten no worse that this. One of my faves!

Not as polished as RINGO but I dug the songs personally more. "Snookeroo" is one of his finest vocals ever. "NO NO song" is practically a pop standard. "Husbands and Wives" may be his most tastful cover ever.

Seeing the album cover in a record store when it came out is one of my earliest memories of knowing about the Beatles. Cool Gort cover.

I give it a 8...okay, 9!

~ Jeff Scott

So last time out Richard Perry wanted a Beatles album and Ringo wanted hits.  This time, Ringo still wants hits (and gets them), but perhaps Richard Perry was getting ready for his Leo Sayer album.  Not that this is a bad album, but it's probably not a coincidence that Ringo decided to sit out the remainder of his contract and didn't work with Richard Perry again after this.  It starts (and ends) right with John's far less than politically correct (but who was paying attention?) "Goodnight Vienna."  (Another why doesn't he for future All Starr engagements.  With gusto, boys, with gusto!)  Then we go to "Occapella" (sic), which isn't, and Richard Perry's arrangement ignores the difference between humor and silliness.  (Even Mister Conductor isn't silly.) For some reason, it reminds me of the Flintstones.  Things pick up with the "Devil Woman" sequel, "Oo-wee", a '40s style production number instead of the previous rocker.  It works.  "Husbands And Wives" doesn't.  Although Ringo should be able to relate to the subject and the author, Roger Miller (known for his humorous songs, but able to write a serious song like this, not to mention a Broadway play), obviously Richard Perry can't.  Where'd the accordion come from and why?  (Brooks & Dunn don't do any better by this song, so he's not the only one who just doesn't get it.)  Up again with Elton and Bernie writing Ringo's life story in "Snookeroo."  (Should've been a hit, and it was the A side.)  "All By Myself" does better than "Occapella" thanks to the songwriter and an assist from Johnny Rhythm.  "Call Me" is the next chapter of "Photograph" that Richard Perry screws up with cheesy '70s production.  "No No Song" brings back some of the good will from "Ringo," and made people feel good about feeling guilty.  I can't be the only who likes "Only You" since it continued Ringo's top 10 streak.  (It would be a nice
change of pace for future concerts.)  Nilsson figured out the only two things wrong with "Easy For Me"...the production and the lack of an extra syllable when he recorded it as "Easier For Me."  (Less awkward that way, it is.)  The CD improves on the album with the addition of liner notes (but who does play bass on "Only You"?) and the bonus tracks, but loses the back cover of the album, an integral part of the packaging.  Never thought "Blindman" would make it to CD ("Just A Dream" still hasn't), and I'm glad it did.  A rarity, a Ringo song written to order for something else.  It wasn't used, but I haven't seen the movie, either.  (Could it top the tattooed butt scene in "That'll Be The Day"?)  "Back Off Boogaloo" probably fits in lyrically with the feel of the album, but George's production puts Richard Perry to shame.  And the original version of "Six O'clock" really is the definitive closer for this CD, veering from seriousness to silliness.  Just as we can't all be Ringo, not every album can be "Ringo."
~ Steven B. Topping



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This page was last updated Jan. 3, 1998.