Ringo Starr, “What’s My Name” (UMe)
With enviable energy and the simple, persistent message of “peace and love,” Ringo Starr has become one of humanity’s quintessential goodwill ambassadors. “What’s My Name,” his 20th studio album, is another bundle of positivity and cheer, with a handful of good tunes to boot.
Recorded at his home studio (Roccabella West) with a familiar cast of friends like Joe Walsh, Steve Lukather, Benmont Tench and Edgar Winter, “What’s My Name” continues Starr’s practice of including some sort of Beatle connection on his albums — a guest spot from a Liverpool lad or two, a song one of them wrote for Starr or sometimes just a reference to their collective glories.
A John Lennon demo of “Grow Old With Me” was released not long after his 1980 murder, but it wasn’t until recently that Starr found out that Lennon felt the song would be a good choice for the Beatle drummer.
Starr’s take has his sincere feelings and Paul McCartney’s typically melodic bass playing going for it. On the downside, it’s followed by a horrifyingly synthetic cover of Motown staple “Money (That’s What I Want),” which Lennon sang when the Beatles covered it.
Other titles, usually co-written by the drummer, are 100% Starr in their sentiment: “Send Love Spread Peace,” ”Life Is Good” and “Thank God for Music.”
“Magic” — a collaboration with Lukather that sounds a bit like a slightly slower “Doctor, My Eyes” — and the faintly Rutles-like “It’s Not Love That You Want,” written with Dave Stewart, are among the most enjoyable.
Saving one of the best for last, the rocking title track was written by former Men at Work frontman Colin Hay and its biographical details act as a succinct update of the decades since “I’m the Greatest,” another Lennon-penned song that Starr sang on his best-by-far 1973 self-titled album.
With the All Starr Band, his 30-year-old touring extravaganza, currently making the rounds again, “What’s My Name” is another sign of Starr’s seemingly boundless enthusiasm and his love for music.