Album Review

Ringo Starr, 'Y Not'

January 11, 2010

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Whether with the Beatles, on his solo albums, or his revue-style All-Starr tours, Ringo Starr has often gotten by with a little help from his friends. Although the 69-year-old drummer/singer-songwriter produces himself for the first time on “Y Not,’’ he relies on a capable supporting cast for another round of the pop, country, R&B, and rock pastiches that are his solo stock in trade. The energetic opener, “Fill in the Blanks,’’ is a rocker co-written by Joe Walsh, who also offers piercing guitar. Dave Stewart of Eurythmics copilots the sparkly, optimistic pop song “Time.’’ A swing through retro-soul town for “Who’s Your Daddy’’ shakes out a sultry Joss Stone. And co-writer Glen Ballard ups the psychedelia quotient on the Middle Eastern-tinged title track. But the biggest bold-faced contributor here is Paul McCartney, who plays bass on the wistful “Peace Dream.’’ Where Macca is really felt, however, is as a backing vocalist on the album’s best track, “Walk With You,’’ co-written by Van Dyke Parks. McCartney’s echo of Starr’s vocal adds an extra layer of poignancy to the paean to enduring friendship. At this point, Starr’s limitations as a vocalist and a songwriter are well known. But if you’ve been on the Starr trip thus far, “Y Not’’ shouldn’t jostle you off. (Out tomorrow) SARAH RODMAN

Ringo Starr Y Not
ESSENTIAL “Walk With You’’