Ringo Starr's "Old Wave"

Editor's Note: During May, we are featured Ringo's Old Wave album. 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

Old Wave was Ringo’s ninth album. It was produced by Ringo’s old friend Joe Walsh. The front cover depicts a photograph of young pompadoured Ringo. The back cover shows the famous beringed fingers clutching a pair of crossed drumsticks. The title pokes fun at the New Wave music popular in the early eighties.
Work on the project began in February of 1982 when Joe Walsh joined Ringo at Tittenhurst Park, the estate that Ringo had bought from John Lennon nine years previously. Here the pair wrote several songs for the new album.
In March of 1982 recording got under way at Ringo’s Startling Studios at Tittenhurst. Between March 7 and March 14 the instrumental tracks for seven of the album’s songs were recorded. These included three Walsh-Starkey compositions: “Hopeless,” “Alibi,” and “Going Down” as well as the Walsh, Starkey, Foster, and Goody offering “In My Car.” Instrumental tracks for Joe Walsh’s “Be My Baby” as well as the Leiber-Stroller tune “I Keep Forgotten’” and Reid and Slate’s “Picture Show Life” were also recorded. at this time. An eighth song, an uptempo version of Edward Heyman’s “Love Letters,” was also recorded but not used on the album.
For these eight songs, the core band consisted of Ringo on drums and percussion, Joe Walsh on guitars and backing vocals, and Mo Foster on bass. Gary Brooker was the primary keyboardist with Chris Stainton filling in on occasion. Unfortunately it is not clear on exactly which songs either keyboardist played. Jim Nipar was the engineer.
To celebrate the end of the sessions, John Entwistle, Eric Clapton, and Ray Cooper joined Ringo and Joe for a jam session at Startling Studios. During that session the mostly instrumental “Everybody’s In A Hurry But Me” was born. On March 19, Joe and Jim returned to California.
Work resumed on the album when Joe, Jim, and the core band returned to Startling Studios in April. Between the nineteenth and twenty-third, Ringo recorded the lead vocals. Various instrumental overdubs were also added. In addition, at this time Ringo added his vocal to the prerecorded instrumental track of “She’s About a Mover” which Joe had brought with him from California.
During June and July, Joe and Jim mixed the songs at Santa Barbara Sound Recording. More overdubs were added. Waddy Wachtel added guitar to “Picture Show Life” and “Going Down,” Kenny Edwards played bass on “Going Down,” and Russell Kunkel added drums to Ringo’s and Ray Cooper’s percussion on “I Keep Forgettin’.”
During the first week of August, Ringo joined Joe and Jim at Santa Barbara Sound for more mixes. Later that month Joe worked out a new instrumentation and backing vocals for Russ Ballard’s “As Far As We Can Go” which Ringo had recorded in 1978. Ringo’s ‘78 vocals were then added to the new instrumentation. (The original 1978 version of the song was included as a bonus track when “Old Wave” was released as a CD in 1994.) By August 13 the album was finished.
Neil Bogat had died in May of 1982 and Boardwalk had subsequently gone out of business. As a result, Ringo found himself without an American record company. In June of 1983, Old Wave was released in Canada, Japan, and South America by RCA which distributed Ringo’s albums to most of the rest of the world. Old Wave was also released in Germany by Bellaphon. Unfortunately, RCA lacked sufficient confidence in the album to release it in the United States and Great Britain. In these countries it was available only as an import until its CD release by The Right Stuff in 1994.

Fans Reviews

When I first got a copy of this record (a Brazilian import) it didn't make much effect on me. It seemed at first a lesser effort than the previous one (Stop and Smell the Roses). But the fact that neither Great Britain nor the US released it made it very special. The cover seemed so dark, but the pun on New Wave and the Young Richie pic on the front made me think (wrongly) of an LP of pure straight rock and roll, something this ex-Beatle must try someday because is one of his strong fields.

After a second listening, though, this record grew on me. I think the first three songs are all great pieces in a row, but "In My Car" is not powerful nor catchy enough for a single. I liked the sound of it because it really seems old-fashioned production, but considering it for the single market wasn´t too wise. The rest of the songs, specially the covers, are just fine. I mean, the versions are OK but the songs themselves aren´t that great. Their mood isn´t that lighter to suit Ringo's style. "As Far as We Can Go" is a pretty good song, but  tracks like this slow the album without a suitable companion to speed it up again.

The star of the second half of the record is the jam number. In essence, this album starts and ends well, but the middle numbers are just OK and lose rather than gain when put together. Maybe Walsh only have ears for sound and arrangements but didn´t pay enough attention to the Vibes, Spirit and Chemistry Department. All in all, for its rock merits, I give it 7 out of 10. At least it showed Ringo is still a Teddy Boy under his jokingly light attitude. And, yes, it deserved being released in England and the US.

Lima, Peru

Old Wave is an overlooked gem. Ringo and Joe Walsh are a good team. Ringo is in fine voice on the album and the songs are catchy and full of life. This album contains five of my all time favorite Ringo recordings: “Hopeless,” “Be My Baby,” “I Keep Forgettin’,” “She’s About a Mover,” and “Going Down.”
“Be My Baby” is delightfully spirited. It’s hard to keep still when that one is playing. The same is true of “She’s About a Mover” and “Going Down.” The drums shine in that last one. Ringo does an excellent job on the bluesy “I Keep Forgettin’.” “Hopeless,” with lines like “Doc, I’m seeing double and how are both of you?” and “There’s optimists and pessimists, I don’t know which is worse,” is a typically Ringoesque nonsense song that never fails to raise a smile.
Of the remaining songs, “Picture Show Life,” ”Alibi,” and “In My Car” are all quite enjoyable. That leaves only two questionable songs. “Everybody’s In A Hurry But Me” is fun, but gets a bit monotonous after a while, and although Ringo’s vocals are good on “As Far As We Can Go,” it’s my least favorite track on the album. I feel that the original arrangement, offered as a bonus on the CD version, is better suited to Ringo’s voice.
Old Wave is one of the most played Ringo albums in my collection. I definitely rank it as one of his better efforts behind only “Ringo” and “Time Takes Time” at this point. (It may fall to number four after “Vertical Man.”) I give Old Wave 8.5 to 9.

~ Mary Ann

I give Old Wave an 8. It’s more of a rock album than it’s three immediate predecessors. It’s tighter and more solid. Highlights include “Be My Baby,” “I Keep Forgettin,” and “She’s About a Mover.”

~ E. Henvey

Ringo and joe walsh together?? Great!! The best drummer and the best
guitarist?? 10, 10 , 10 , 10 , 10 , 10 , 10 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Best regards from Brazil, waiting for Ringo's tour!!!!!!!!
~ Raul Antonio ( Drummer)

After a string of disappointing albums, "Old Wave" was a return to form for the Ringo Starr that we know and love. Unfortunately, this album wasn't available to many of his fans at the time of its release. It might not be quite as top notch as "Ringo" or "Time Takes Time," but "Old Wave" was an old fashioned rock and roll record, highlighted by the guitar work of the great Joe Walsh and the drumming of the one and only Ringo Starr, plus it lacked some of the embarrassing moments of some of his previous releases.  My favorite song on the album is "Alibi," a great song co-written by Walsh and Ringo, who make a pretty good team.  I also like "As Far As We Can Go," which has a much different sound than any of the rest of the songs on the album, but Ringo's singing makes this ballad sound heartfelt and emotional, and I think it adds something very worthwhile to the album.  Of the rest of the songs, I most enjoy "In My Car."  I get a kick out of the cover photo of a young Ringo and the humor of the album's title.  I give "Old Wave" a 7.
~ Travis Truitt  

Old Wave is great, I love almost all the songs, especially Be my baby and I keep forgetin'. In fact I'm listening the album right now!, I rank it only behind Time Takes Time. I give it an 9. Greetings from Chile and long live to Ringo Starr.

Santiago, Chile

Old Wave was arrived in Newmarket Ontario Canada on July 2 1983.  I can
be prisice because I went to the record stores daily in those days and have made a note on the inner sleeve of the day I purchased it.  I didn't know the rest of the world wouldn't have the pleasure of this
release,  all I knew was that this was Ringo's coolest album in years.

I bought it at the tail end of my Beatlemania period. In fact it was the last in a two year stretch of only purchaseing Beatle related records. It reminds me of a great time in my life as I found myself reasured that the glory days of the Beatles were far from over.

I talked about it for weeks and played it for anyone who would listen, but in the summer of "Thriller" had trouble communicating my enthusiasm. Ahhh, the album.  I guess the copy I have is a bit of a collectors item. Of course, I'd never give it up for the reasons stated above.

Joe Walsh's production sounds fresh and contemporary.  Even today.  I was a big fan of his work with the Eagles and 'But Seriously Folks..'(1978?)  and here we have that same sound.

Nowhere is that uncomfortable sillyness the late 70's albums drifted into.  The humour is clever and rocks.  The ballads are touching and sincere,  certainly not as mushy as the types on the previous albums.

My only beef is with the 'jam' songs that kinda go nowhere.  Great playing at least.

I don't have to point out the strong songs and weaker numbers.  Anyone whose heard the album can tell the obvious.  It's too bad they didn't do an album or two more with this lineup and really nail it.  We see here the seeds of the All Star Band and a glimpse of Ringos renewed confidence that would flurish over the next ten years.

Now if only Joe Walsh had produced "Pipes of Peace"....

~ Jeff Scott
Toronto Ontario Canada

Another band oriented effort with one producer, so as a listening experience, although slight (eight songs and two jams to end it), this holds up better than "Stop And Smell The Roses" or even "Goodnight Vienna" and "Rotogravure". And as a songwriting collaborator, musically Joe Walsh is a lot better than Vini Poncia (although Vini was better lyrically), and that was what was needed at the time.  (And somehow, its sheer unavailability helped with critics who actually had to buy their own copy instead of taking their promo copies to the used record shop.)  I see this as Ringo's "Some Time In New York City" without the politics, or his "Back To The Egg" without the concept.  I want a band and I want to rock!  And rock he did.  Highlights include "In My Car", "Hopeless"and "She's About A Mover".  (Is it just me, or does "Picture Show Life" sound like "Dose Of Rock And Roll"?)  And this time, the quality level doesn't drop perceptably beyond those.  Surf's up for the old wave!

~ Steven B. Topping

One of the first things I bought at my very first "Beatlefest"{9/83}.Paid $6.00!!!!
I like:

1. In my car
2. She's about a mover{though I could do without the Dixieland solo}
3. Picture show life
4. As far as we can go
"Hopeless" is o.k. Gets a 5

~ Gary Owen

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This page was last updated March 1, 1999.