This has been a good season for Beatles fans. It started when Paul McCartney released one of his best solo albums with Memory Almost Full. But then it continued with an excellent re-release of the complete Traveling WIlburys catalog in a wonderful two-disc set showing that at the end of his career George Harrison still had some good tricks left in him. Then there was the Instant Karma collection with the solo catalog of John Lennon covered by a wide variety of modern artists. Tribute albums are not always successful but this collection reminded me of what a fine writer Lennon was and encouraged me to look back at his recordings again in the excellent Working Class Hero collection (newly available on iTunes.) And finally, and for me surprisingly fun, the best of Ringo Starr. These albums have all served to remind me that the Beatles were indeed something special and that there solo work also stands up well.
What surprised me most about the Ringo collection is that I find myself singing along with so many of the songs. It's not that I know them (although in most cases I did) but the type of songs they are just ask to be sung along with. "The No No Song," for example has that catchy chorus that I find irresistible. The same is true for "It Don't Come Easy," "I'm the Greatest," "Back off Boogaloo," "You're Sixteen," and the title track, "Photograph." Many reviewers have noted that Ringo actually outsold all the other former Beatles for a brief period and it's easy to see why – his friendly personality brought out the best in his collaborators. It's like they really wanted to do something good for Ringo and his clear limits as a vocalist and writer were used to his advantage.
This is not an album that I'm going to lift up as the finest example of pop music over the last forty years but it is an album that I'm going to continue to put on and that I'll probably find myself in the car singing along with at the top of my voice.
And to top it all off, it seems that we can stop worrying because Help! Is on the way!