Ringo Starr has been on a roll the past several years with the well-reviewed 2010 release “Y Not,” a successful tour, and now a lively new album called “RINGO 2012″. This marks Ringo’s 17th solo outing as well as his first self-produced effort, and is an infectious pop-rock project with a good feel and damnably catchy tunes.
“2012″ kicks off with a nod to old-school production with opening track “Anthem”‘s dense but widely-spaced mix. There’s Steve Dudas’ guitar in your far left speaker, reminiscent of those late 60s records that stretched out the soundstage in front of you.
The follow-up track resurrects “Wings” from the “Ringo the 4th” LP but some cool reggae guitar from Joe Walsh and a bright, snappy mix from Starr and Bruce Sugar give this new version an energy the original lacked.
“Step Lightly,” from 1973′s “Ringo” album also gets an uptempo makeover but is overshadowed by new originals. “Wonderful” features a touching lyric and nice counterpoint guitar work from Kenny Wayne Shepard, while “In Liverpool” is a nostalgic glimpse into Ringo’s past.
Starr has some impressive co-writers this time, including Glen Ballard, Dave Stewart, Joe Walsh and, on “Samba,” Brian Wilson’s old “Smile” collaborator, Van Dyke Parks. Ringo handles all the drumming, but also a little keyboard and guitar.
While “2012″ may not reflect a watershed moment in rock history, this is a fun, if at less than 30 minutes somewhat brief, finger-tapping-on-the-steering-wheel-perfect-for-a-Sunday-drive visit from an old friend.