Ringo the 4th

Editor's Note: During October, we featured Ringo the 4th as the album of the month. 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.

General Commentary

Because he claimed to have only started counting with the Ringo album, Ringo's sixth album was titled Ringo the 4th. The album cover, which depicts the lower half of a scantily clad woman balanced on the shoulders the natilly dressed drummer, gives a hint to the departure of style evidenced by this recording.
Feeling that the Ringo and friends theme might be wearing a bit thin, the powers-that-be at Atlantic Records suggested that the new project cash in on the disco fad. Ringo went along with the idea and in June of 1977, he and producer Arif Madrin teamed up once again to begin work on Ringo the 4th. Some unreleased songs were recorded at the Atlantic Studios in New York but the majority of the album was recorded at Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles.
Although the Ringo the 4th album features the drum work of Steve Gadd and backing vocals from Bette Midler and Melissa Manchester, none of the former Beatles were involved in any aspect of the recording. As a matter of fact, the only real holdover from any of the other albums was Ringo's writng partner, Vini Poncia.
"Ringo the 4th features six songs written by the Richard Starkey/Vini Poncia duo and copywrited by Ringo's Zwiebel Productions. They are: "Wings," "Gave It All Up," "Out on the Street," "It's No Secret." "Gypsies In Flight," and "Simple Love Songs." The four remaining songs are: "Drowning in a Sea of Love," "Tango All Night," "Can She Do It Like She Dances," and "Sneaking Sally Through the Alley." Neither the single "Wings" nor its follow up "Drowning in a Sea of Love" caught on with the record buying public. Ringo the 4th was realeased on September twentieth in the UK and on September twenty-sixth in the US where it peaked on the charts at number 162. In an article for Discoveries Magazine, Peter Palmiere offers an explanation for the album's poor showing. "Fans and critics took the album as a joke for Ringo's voice was hardly appropriate for the disco flavor music featured on the album." This may be true for Ringo's vocals sound much more relxed and happy on the charming children's album "Scouse the Mouse" released in Britain that same year.
The only Ringo the 4th track deemed suitable for Rhino's 1989 the best of volumue two CD, Starrstuck, was "Can She Do It Like She Dances."

Fans Reviews

Ringo the fourth is easily the least succesful album by Ringo. This is the album that effectively ruined his commercial career. "Drowning in the sea of love", "Out on the streets", "Sneaking Sally.." "Simple love song", "Tango all night" and the single b-side "Just a dream" are all
completely ruined by Arif Mardin's disco strings and disco girlie choruses. ("Just a dream" could have been a decent song, though). Most of the song are co-written by Ringo, but somehow they don't sound completed, like they gave up finishing the songs. "Gypsies in flight", for instance, is in desperately need of a middle eight and a chorus and "Gave it all up" is in need of everything. I kind of like the song "Wings", which is a good song that deserves a better destiny than being
hidden away on this LP. It could easily be a great song for the All-Starrs (or the Roundheads). "Can she do it like she dances" is also quite funny, and "It's no secret" could have been charming. It seems to me like this is the album where Ringo lost control over what he was doing, he sounds completely lost and under the guidance of people who didn't know what he was all about, I'd give Ringo the fourth 1 1/2 out of 10.
~ Robert Djurhuus Wasa

Ringo's fourth Ringo album, or Ringo the fourth Beatle?  This is a much underrated album and misunderstood.  For the most part, I believe Ringo was responsible for the direction of the album.  Instead of a cast of characters, this one went for more of a band sound.  Instead of begging for songs, Ringo wrote more of this album than any other up until "Vertical Man".  (The rest seem to be songs Ringo was familiar with, instead of extras from his friends.) And the mix is a lot tighter, harder and clearer than on "Rotogravure" (with the exception of "Just A Dream"  which should have been a bonus track). 
There are points in their careers when artists wish their records didn't sound like their records.  Randy Meisner wondered why the Eagles didn't sound like Motown.  Chrissie Hynde wondered why the Pretenders didn't sound like Madonna. Rather than trying to jump on the disco bandwagon, this seems to be Ringo's attempt to not make a Ringo album, but something more like what he was hearing in the clubs in Monte Carlo and LA.  Lyrically, this is at least as honest  as anything John Lennon had done. 
Around this time, Ringo had described himself as manic depressive.  Both sides of his personality are addressed.  The more upbeat Ringo is presented in "Wings" and "Out In The Street".  (And has anyone ever noticed the reference to the Dakota and its inhabitants called "just like two people you'd meet out in the street"?)  The darker side is shown in "Gave It All Up".  One can picture Ringo sitting at the bar after hours with this. Both sides appear in "Simple Love Song".  "Cheap thrills when I have my pills."  Even John left out "I'm stoned" from "Scared". 
For anyone who doesn't take Ringo seriously, this actually holds up better than a lot of music from that era.

~ Steven B. Topping

Ringo the 4th is yet another example of Ringo Starr's work that is vastly underrated.  From what I had read about this, I expected this to be an awful album, probably his worst, but I don't think it is.  This album does have several disco-type songs, but it's not really a full-fledged disco album.  I think what is shocking about this album is that people think of Ringo as a good natured, happy-go-lucky guy, and this album paints a completely different portrait of him.  Ringo the 4th
is filled with references to bars, drinking, women, and sex, subjects one probably wouldn't have expected Ringo to sing about.  Because he sings about these things, listening to Ringo the 4th is a lot different than listening to the happy "Ringo" album of 1973.  I obviously wasn't with him, but from what I've read, Ringo the 4th probably does reflect Ringo's lifestyle of the time.  On some songs he sounds very lonely and sad, yet on others he sounds excited and thrilled like some sort of crazed party animal, and this probably is the way his life was.  Like another reviewer said, and I agree, this was an honest album.  I don't think any of the songs are terrible, most are just very mediocre.  I think "Sneaking Sally Through the Alley" is the most entertaining and probably my favorite.  I also like "Gypsies in Flight," the album's country song, because Ringo seems like such a natural country singer.  If I had bought this album in 1977, I probably would have thought it was pretty good.  Ringo the 4th doesn't compare to the likes of Ringo, Time Takes Time, Vertical Man, or VH1 Storytellers, but it is an album that is much better than what you've probably heard about it.  I would rate this album as a 5.
~ Travis Truitt

We get a kick out of this one. We'll be driving along the highway singing along with such stupid songs as "Sneaking Sally"{My wife likes this one{!!!!}}. His voice is shot{a.k.a."Gave it all up"}.Must've been the partying. Remember,This came out at a time when almost everything was
cheesy. Although!!!!!!! There are 3 songs from this project that rank in my all time favorite Ringo category:

1. Simple love song
2. It's no secret
3. Just a dream {Why wasn't this a bonus track on the CD?}
I remember when it showed up in stores in 1977. I borrowed it from the library. I couldn't believe he was doing Disco!!!!!!!! This made me sad. I'll tell you now, I'd rather listen to this one than "Vertical Man".At least the production on this doesn't hurt your ears and there is more than
1 1/2 good songs on it!
~ Gary Owen


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This page was last updated March 1, 1999