(Originally published on the buhdge website in 2007)
Fab sticksman Richard Starkey M.B.E.’s best sides finally get a first-class remastering with Photograph The Very Best of Ringo Starr, a most welcome release that earns Capitol Records a back-off-boogaloo’s-worth of goodwill from fans.
For one thing, Abbey Road’s Steve Rooke has given this collection a bright-sounding, widescreen, wide-stereo retooling. For another, Capitol has doubled the number of tracks found on the 1976 compilation, Blast From Your Past. And what’s more, the deluxe edition of Photograph comes with a DVD, resplendent with six Ringo videos and a commercial for the Goodnight Vienna album, which features Spaceman Ringo and Harry Nilsson in his bathrobe.
Featuring no less than eight top 10 hits, and Ringo’s spirited duet with Buck Owens on the well-traveled “Act Naturally,” Photograph is a fun listen from start to finish. You get great tunes driven by Ringo’s Ringo-esque vocals and his always stellar drumming. What’s not to love?
In addition to the usual suspects, such as the mondo title track “It Don’t Come Easy,” “You’re Sixteen (You’re Beautiful and You’re Mine),” “Back Off Boogaloo,” and “No-No Song,” you get the audio-verite confessional “Early 1970,” the b-side of “It Don’t Come Easy”; “Weight of the World,” a most Beatlesque tune from the fine 1992 album, Time Takes Time; and the off-kilter, very-uncharacteristic-for-its-writer George Harrison, but wholly-appropriate-for-Ringo song, “Wrack My Brain.”
The collector’s edition of Photograph also nets you the aforementioned DVD. Said DVD might skimp on quantity, but it delivers on the quality front. The videos are fun–“It Don’t Come Easy” and “Back Off Boogaloo” feature very Beatlesque clowning-around in the manner of Harrison’s video for his “Crackerbox Palace”. The animation technique used for the “You’re Sixteen” film is very nice and imaginative, and probably ahead of its time for its time. And the video for Ringo’s duet with Buck Owens, “Act Naturally,” set on an old western film set, is a humorous gem. Look for guest stars Vic “Alice” Tayback as a bartender, and ex-Saturday Night Live player Brad “Mr. Julia Louis-Dreyfus” Hall. Don’t miss the cheesy spaceship prop in the video for “Only You” and the commercial for Goodnight Vienna–the string from which the ship hangs is clearly visible. Shades of Plan 9 from Outer Space!
So it’s all down-down-down-down-down-down to Goodnight Vienna for your friend and mine, Ringo Starr. This Photograph really sings.