Nightman Listens To – Ringo Starr – Sentimental Journey (Non-Beatles Series)!

Sentimental Journey: Amazon.co.uk: Music

Greetings, Glancers! You know, throughout my life I’ve heard quite a few songs by Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison that they wrote, recorded, and performed outside of The Beatles. Ringo Starr though? I can’t think of any off the top of my head. That’s why I was surprised that he has made so many albums – surely I’ve heard something. As I make my way through this journey, I’m sure I’ll find out. And yet, Ringo’s voice was probably more familiar to me than any of the other Beatles when I was young, thanks to his work on Thomas The Tank Engine. 

Sentimental Journey was released in 1970 and is apparently the first non experimental, weird, avant-garde album by any Beatle. I was looking forward to this until I saw the tracklist and released it was a cover album. Ah well, I suppose Ringo had to work through his shit before making something good too. Lets do this.

Sentimental Journey: We open with a song I don’t recognise. It threatens Country, then Jazz, then settles into some easy-listening crooning once Ringo starts singing. I know Ringo’s vocals tend to get a lot of criticism – he can sing fine, it’s just that he’s limited. His vocals work well for things like With A Little Help. The problem here is that the song is junk. There’s a lot thrown into the arrangement – droopy horns, backing vocals, and some unusual voicebox work. A slow, yet detailed opening.

Night And Day: Big band wank. If there’s one other genre I typically cannot find any worth in beyond Country (and Irish) it’s Big Band/Swing stuff. Ironically, Starr’s vocals do suit that style, though he probably doesn’t have the strength or supposed sex appeal the singers in this genre are supposed to have. But the melodies, the brass, the beat, the swagger – everything about this is abhorrent to me, aside from some of the snazzy drum fills, but it’s not Ringo’s fault – it’s just a crap song in a style I can’t stand.

Whispering Grass: More big band jazzy stuff. At least this song has a discernible, appealing melody. The strings are whining, the song is boring, and Ringo’s voice doesn’t have the chops to quite pull it off. It takes a certain level of talentlessness to put violins in a song and make me wish they weren’t there.

Bye Bye Blackbird: Is this Paul McCartney? Or Arthur Askey? It’s the sort of jaunty piece of novelty crap McCartney would have written then passed over to Ringo to sing. Funny for about three seconds, then tragic. It should also be noted that I was listening to this while trying to untangle my Laptop power cable before the battery died, and I almost headbutted the monitor in rage.

I’m A Fool To Care: More brass. More ass. I’m not sure I would have survived in an era when music was this bad – pre 1950. Then again, I’m alive now. If I had been alive then, I’m fairly certain I would have single-handedly invented Metal. Somehow.

Stardust: Oh no. I see the whole album was meant to be a selection of his parents’ favourite songs. That would explain it – parents haven’t a fucking clue. This has some interesting pronunciation.

Blue, Turning Grey Over You: Dear Jeebus, so much useless noise. All that brass makes me feel how pensioners must feel when they hear Cannibal Corpse. The melody is almost non-existant, the trumpets run over everything else making the song nothing more than a predictable selection of brass farts.

Love Is A Many Splendoured Thing: Another of the songs I know. Of course it’s a song I never liked. He keeps the awful choral backing vocals, but his vocals act as a counterpoint and somehow improve things. This is absolutely a song which should be performed solo with quiet vocals and as little backing arrangement as possible.

Dream: I know a version of this. This isn’t much better. Ringo’s verse vocals don’t work at all. It’s just another boring pre-rock ballad with the same rhythm as the others. Nigh on unlistenable.

You Always Hurt The One You Love: At least this one starts interestingly, before the verse arrangement gets things all wrong. More wanky jazz in the middle. Terrible.

Have I Told You Lately That I Love You: We all know this. Apparently Elmer Bernstein had a crack at arranging this. It’s somewhere between a complete mess and something that weird ginger kid in your class who usually said funny things and sat with one hand in his pocket all time would write.

Let The Rest Of The World Go By: Twinkling and tinkling. Then more brass. And the same rhythm as the other dreary ballads. Worse than Love Island. 

Well, the title was right. Kind of. It probably was a Sentimental Journey recording these for his parents. For everyone else (me) it means absolutely nothing and is as pointless a piece of shit I’ve ever had the misfortune of hearing. What do you think? Actually, forget it – I never want to think of this again.

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Seriously?

Nightman Listens To – Wonderwall Music – George Harrison!

Greetings, Glancers! Here we are, my first full (fool?) foray into the world of non-Beatles music by members of The Beatles. For a few years in my youth I was an Oasis fan – that’s the first time I heard the word ‘Wonderwall’. I wasn’t much of a fan of the song, but I loved the album it appeared on. Shortly after, Travis asked the question ‘What’s a Wonderwall anyway?’ in their hit ‘Writing To Reach You’, but I was none the wiser. I knew by this point that the Oasis lads were massive Beatles fans and as time went on they were repeatedly accused of nicking off the Liverpudlians. It must have been around this time that I heard about this George Harrison album. This was still before the days of downloading, at least for me, and I had no intention of forking out my pocket money on a Beatles’ bloke’s solo album when I hadn’t even heard a single Beatles album all the way through.

It turns out Harrison was the first to release solo material. In late 1968, The Beatles were already crumbling – Harrison’s rise as a songwriter and desire to do his own thing possibly one of the factors of the band coming to an end. I’ve always had a middling opinion of Harrison’s work with The Beatles – his writing contributions – some good, most average, and certainly not up to the standards of Lennon or McCartney’s day to day stuff. Maybe he felt constricted by them, and going solo would let him soar? I was going to say I had middling hopes for this one – more positive than negative – but then I saw that this is actually an instrumental only album, a soundtrack to a movie nobody has ever seen. My hopes have plummeted. Still, it can’t be much worse than Lennon’s experimental stuff, can it? CAN IT?

Microbes: We begin, as expected, with some sitar. Other Indian instruments too. I’ve never been much of a fan of Indian instruments, but something about the way George uses them does create a trance-like tone and atmosphere. That atmosphere people say they get in general from Indian music, but in most cases it just annoys me or makes me think of Mario 64. This though…. I like it. It very much works in conjuring up images of the movie which I haven’t seen – I’m making up my own opening scene in my head.

Red Lady Too: A plodding piano piece, like someone walking slowly or footering about the house. Credit for making it sound unlike anything The Beatles had written.

Tabla And Pakavaj: As the name suggests, this is mainly a drum led piece, with some sitar in the background. Picks up pace near the end, short enough to not get boring.

In The Park: More Indian strings. Maybe my problem with India music is that I’m so heavily invested in melody, Western melody, and emotion that India stuff typically feels like it has no melody and just a chaotic random selection of notes with no discernible emotion. I’m not saying that’s how it is, that’s just how it makes me feel. For me, this goes nowhere and does nothing.

Drilling A Home: A jaunty, more Western tune. Sounds like something you’d hear in a saloon in a Western movie, only with more dancing. Sounds like something McCartney would write.

Guru Vandana: Lots of horns and sitar.

Greasy Legs: A much nicer tune, with lots of… I don’t know – keyboard stuff of some description. Sounds like a child writing a song on a child’s toy.

Ski-Ing: Finally some honest to goodness electric guitar, with India stuff lurking ominously in the background like a strange stirring pot. It’s just the same riff played on a loop by different instruments with a lot of stuff blasting off around it. Pretty cool.

Gat Kirwani: Fast beats and Indian guitar stuff. If it’s fast, it’s good.

Dream Scene: Backwards stuff and some vocals. India vocals, so I have no idea. Changes halfway through, merging piano with Indian horns. Chaos drums. I assume this is the clash of East and West. Then is suddenly changes again, becoming hungover. Then it goes buck nuts. Sounds nice enough, not sure I need to hear it again.

Party Seacombe: Harry Seacombe? Sounds like the start of Across The Universe. Funky enough. Guitars, wall of sound, piano, drums.

Love Scene: More of what you would expect. I don’t have anything insightful or useful to say about most of this. I’m listening to it, maybe that’s enough. Don’t worry, I’ll have more to say once we get to a more familiar style. Still, it works as a melding of East and West.

Crying: A strange whining piece which almost sounds like a woman wailing in pain – not as bad as it sounds.

Cowboy Music: This is exactly as it sounds. If someone told me to write, in five minutes, a typical cowboy instrumental, this is exactly what I would write. Except it seems to have a slight Caribbean twinge.

Fantasy Sequins: There’s that whining again. This one is a little more jaunty. Like a scene at a fair or a market or a party in a palace.

On The Bed: A bit more of a groove and a tune to this one and the way the drums fade in is something The Beatles would play with.

Glass Box: Another short piece, jangly.

Wonderwall To Be Here: A Western opening, with pianos and triangles, and a vaguely threatening soap opera tone. So this prompted one of the biggest songs of all time, eh?

Singing Om: Organs and voices doing an ‘ahhhh’ mantra. Works as an end credits, I guess.

So what did I think? I’m happy I’ve heard it, but I don’t think I need to ever hear a single track again. It didn’t make me overly interested in ever seeing the movie of the same name. There isn’t a stand out piece but George does a fairly good job of slapping together Eastern and Western instrumental music – at least as he envisioned them at the time. If you’re a regular on the blog you probably know I’m not big on instrumental music, at least when made by ‘regular’ artists or bands, and they rarely feel anything more than an experimental aside, a curiosity to be heard once and forgotten. Pretty much sums this up. What did you think – let us know in the comments!

Nightman Listens To – Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, and Starr!

Beatles-Help-competition-770

Greetings, Glancers! I know they don’t get nearly as many views as my movie or TV posts, but I’m trying to keep up to date with my musical posts too, bringing you the worst the net has to offer in terms of my opinions on Bowie, Madonna, Jovi, The Stones, The Top 1000 Albums ever, yearly chart music et cetera etc. Many years ago I posted my Amazon Beatles album reviews and recently I’ve been posting updated versions of those along with my Nightman Scoring System (c) comments. In doing all of that I realized that I was missing out on the vast array of non-Beatles work that each of the four members created. Therefore, I’m going to start listening and reacting to all of those too. It’s a massive undertaking but I always planned on listening to them at some point so I may as well write about my experiences too.

It’s obvious that Paul McCartney has done the most out of each member – he has been extremely prolific since 1970, releasing with Wings, other bands, and on his own. Lennon died in 1980 and only managed a handful of albums, while Harrison released here and there up until his death. Ringo, I’ve honestly no idea. What I can say is that I haven’t listened to any of their non-Beatles albums all the way through. Actually, I have listened to Lennon’s experimental records with Yoko, and will not be doing so again for the purposes of this blog or otherwise, thank you very much. I know I’ve heard many of the individual songs by each artist post-The Beatles, but no albums. So I’m going to go through them in some sort of chronological order, I hope I get to listen to some great music for the first time, and I hope you’ll join me on the journey. Coming soon (probably not)!

Feel free to let me know in advance which solo/non-Beatles albums by John, Paul, Ringo, and George I should look forward to in the comments.