Beaucoups Of Blues

Editor's Note: During October, we featured Beaucoups Of Blues. What follows is a description of the album and what some fans had to say about it. Please feel free to still send your comments on the album to gshultz@airmail.net .


Produced by Peter Drake, and described by Discoveries Magazine as , “a labor of love,” Beaucoups of Blues is Ringo’s second album. Like his frist album, Sentimental Journey, Beaucoups of Blues is considered by many to be something of an oddity. While Sentimental Journey is a collection of old standards, the 1970 issue of Beaucoups of Blues consisted of twelve country songs.


Ringo’s penchant for country should not have come as too much of a surprise for even in his Beatle days, Ringo had recorded such country flavored songs as “Matchbox,” “Honey Don’t,” “Act Naturally,” and “Don’t Pass Me By.” According to biographer, Alan Clayson, Ringo had been toying with the idea of making a country album for a while. He had even gone so far as to discuss the project with Bob Johnston, the producer of Bob Dylan’s John Wesly Harding. However Ringo discovered that, Johnston, “wanted a lot of bread, so I decided not to do it with him.”


Ringo met Peter Drake while both were working on George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass. Pete had noticed a stack of country-western tapes in Ringo’s car and soon discovered Ringo’s affinity for country music. The two began to discuss the possibility of making a country album. Pete suggested that the album be made in Nashville, but Ringo perferred London. Used to they Beatles’ recording methods, Ringo stated, “I didn’t want to spend three months or six months or however long in Nashville and that’s how long I expected to take to make an album in those days.”


Impressed with Pete’s assurance that the album could be finished in two or three days, Ringo finally agreed to go to Nashville.


By the time Ringo arrived in Nashville on June 22, 1970, Pete had already booked studio time at Music City Recorders Studio. He had also amassed an impressive array of session musicians. These included Charlie Daniels, Dave Kirby, Chuck Howard, Sorrells Pickard, Jerry Teed, Jerry Shook, and Jerry Kennedy on guitars; Pete Drake and Ben Keith on pedal steel guitar; Roy Huskey Jr and Buddy Hamran on bass; Charlie McCoy on harmonica; George Richey, Grover Lavender and Jim Buchanan on fiddles; and D. J. Fontana on drums.


Pete had also already seleceted a number of possible songs, most written by either Sorrells Pickard or Chuck Howard, for Ringo’s approval. All that was left for Ringo to do was the “picking out the songs I liked,” and the recording of the vocals. The tracks were laid down in three days. Recalling the speed with wich the album was made Ringo said, “We went into the studio on Thursday and I had ten tracks done by the Friday-- the next night. We did ten tracks in the morning and ten tracks at night.”


By the time Ringo flew back to London on July first, twelve songs had been earmarked for inclusion on the album. These were “Beaucoups of Blues,” “Love Don’t Last Long,” “Fastest Growing Heartache in the West,” “Without Her,” “Woman of the Night,” “I’d Be Talking All the Time,” “$15 Draw,” “ Wine, Women and Loud Happy Songs,” “I wouldn’t Have you Any Other Way” (a duet with Jeannie Kendal,) “Loser’s Lounge,” “Waiting,” and “Silent Home Coming.”


When the CD was issued in 1995, the bonus tracks “Coochy Coochy,” (written by Ringo) and “Nashville Jam,” were added. Both songs were recorded during the Beaucoups of Blues sessions. All fourteen of the songs were published by Ringo’s company Startling Music. Also recorded during this session was the unreleased “The Wishing Book”

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The Beaucoups of Blues rocording sessions got off to a rocky start due to Ringo’s initial anxiety. Alan Clayson reports that Ringo was so nervous early on , that a member of the backing singers, the Jordanairs, “was instructed to sing along in unison over the headphones.”

Drummer D. J. Fontana remembered, “ Ringo was the nicest man in the world. We had some pretty well known players on that date, so we made him a little nervous, I’m sure. He made us nervous too.” Ringo admits, “At first I was nervous and Pete would say through the glass, “Hoss, if you don’t get loose, I’m gonna come in there and stomp on your toes.”
The nervousness didn’t last long, though, and soon Ringo was relaxed enough to even join in on the jams with the session musicians between takes. “Nashville Jam” is the result of one of those jams.


Of his singing on Beaucoups of Blues Ringo remarked, “I think some of my finest vocals are on that album--because I was relaxed.” As fine as the vocals are, however, the album was not well recieved in either the USA or the UK. Released on Sept. 28, 1970 in the United States, Beaucoups of Blues remained in the Billboards charts for fifteen weeks, but only rose as high as number sixty-five. The album was relaesed in the United Kingdom on September 25, but fialed to chart. Many fans, still realing from the classic standards of Sentimental Journey had decided to pass on Beaucoup of Blues. This is unfortunate because although the songs are decidedly country mawkish, many fans who have taken the time to listen are pleasantly surprised by what they hear. Ringo’s voice is surprisingly well suited to this melieu and , as Ringo once noted, “ There are still some good track on that one as well.”


In Tell Me Why, Tim Riley says that Beaucoups of Blues has a “deceptively easy feel” that confirms Ringo’s “fundamental appeal as a personality.” In a 1991 article for Beatlefan Magazine Al Sussman and Bill King worte, “The big surprise is how good Beaucoups of Blues sounds today. If reissued now, it might well benefit from the back-to-the roots New Traditionlaist movement in country music.” Perhaps Bob Woffinden in his book The Beatles Apart, sums up the Beaucoups of Blues best. “Ringo took his chance well and his homely lugubrious voice suited those typically maudlin country songs like a charm. It’s one of the best Beatle solo albums.”

Fans' Reviews

When I first picked up Beacoups of Blues, I was a bit nervous. Previously, I had heard it referred to as a vanity project and not worth wasting your money on. I was kind of concerned that dear Ringo would have failed on this effort. I needn't have worried. I've loved the album
ever since I first heard it, and still enjoy putting it on the turntable for a good listen. Sure, some people may call it cheezy or stupid, but I really love it. The lyrics are interesting and good to quote randomly, I've found (I love the lyrics to "I'd Be Talking All The Time"). And I don't care who knows it, I like the sweet "I Wouldn't Have You Any Other Way". That spark that is Ringo is there, and his humor is apparent in quite a few of those songs. Take for example, "Woman of the Night" or "Wine, Women, and Loud Happy Songs". This record always brings a smile
to my face, and I highly recommend it. I'll even venture to say it's one of my favorites. I give it a 10.

~ Jennifer


My Rating is a 6.

There is some fine playing, and some great tracks on the album. It is somewhat dated now, but at the time it was "progressive country", quite like a Steve Earle album now. Ringo's voice is in fine form, as his drumming. The CD reissue with Nashville Jam is worth the price of the CD alone.
~ Aaron Badgley


I would rate Beaucoups of Blues a 7 our of 10. Ringo's voice is tailor-made for these songs. He's got just the right mix of pathos and humor to carry them off. My particular favorites are "Fastest Growing Heartache In The West" and "Wine, Women, and Loud Happy Songs."

~ Emily Henvey


The first time I heard Beaucoups of Blues, I shook my head in disbelief and hid the album away. Years later, when sorting through my stack of LPs, I happened to find it again. Expecting to cringe, I put the record on the turntable just to see if it was as bad as I remembered it. Imagine my shock when I discovered that I actually like the record. Either I or the world had finally caught up with Ringo Starr. I would give it a 6 out of 10.

~ H. T.


Ringo Starr's second album, Beaucoups of Blues, is definitely one of the most interesting albums by any of the solo Beatles. It is country music through and through, with enough heartache to put a tear in anyone's beer. In addition to the depression and heartache in the songs, there are some slightly goofy lyrics on this album, but Ringo's good natured personality shines through, and, despite the unrequited love and the blues he suffers, Beaucoups of Blues is a mostly enjoyable listening experience. "I Wouldn't Have You Any Other Way" and "Waiting" are a little slow and twangy for my taste, making them rather tough for me to sit through. There are some songs, however, that are ideal country songs for Ringo to sing. "Woman of the Night," "Loser's Lounge," and "Wine, Women and Loud Happy Songs" all have a great beat and sound perfect for Ringo's vocal style. "Beaucoups of Blues," "$15 Draw," and "I'd Be Talking All the Time" are also fine examples of traditional country music. This album is an ambitious project, recorded not because Ringo was concerned with being successful as a solo artist, but because he loved playing and singing and he enjoyed country music. It's not a great album, but, as I said before, it's very interesting to listen to, and, at times, quite pleasing. I would rate Beaucoups of Blues as a 7/10.
~ Travis Truitt


Ringo's album Beaucoups of blues is certainly a joy for all. There is a song on that album for everyone. Especially if you're a lover of country music as well.

~ MoonCat3.


When I first sat down to listen to Beaucoups of Blues, it was with the pre-conceived notion that I wouldn't like it. And after an initial listen, I felt rather lukewarm towards the songs, although I felt Ringo sang them well. But subsequent listenings warmed me towards the album, starting with -- this isn't bad, and ending with -- I really like this album. It has been stated that Ringo's vocal ability is "limited." But I don't think that is a fair assessment. Ringo does an excellent job singing "classic country" as can be found on Beaucoups of Blues, and he does a great job on rock-a-billy as in "Honey Don't" and "Matchbox." And in the rock department, if the song suits
Ringo's vocal talent, no one does it better. Since we have a fair number of Beatle and post-Beatle rock-a-billy and rock 'n roll songs featuring Ringo's unique sound, it's nice to have Beaucoups of Blues around to showcase Ringo's country/western talents as well. My personal favorites are "Woman of the Night", "Fastest Growing Heartache in the West", "I'd Be Talking All The Time", "Wine, Women & Loud Happy Songs", and "Loser's Lounge." But I enjoy
them all to varying degrees and I'm glad I gave the album a chance. On cloudy days when life is less than great, this album plays like a comfortable old friend. I give it a 7/10.

~ Pam Dupre


Ringo Starr's second solo effort (recorded and released in record time in a few days out of Ritchie's recording sessions for George Harrison's "All Things Must Pass") was born after conversations in London with pedal-steel guitarist Peter Drake. Ringo's love for country music (evident in some Beatle tracks) prompted him to fly to Nashville and join the créme de la créme of country musicians, including the legendary Jordanaires for backing vocals.

The material was nearly all new songs penned by the musicians involved in the recording. Ringo played some acoustic guitar too. And he sang, in my oppinion, better than ever in this 12-song collection. Actually, another dozen songs were recorded but remain unissued until now. From
those sessions emanated the very first solo single by Ringo, the title track, backed with the very first solo Starkey composition and non-LP track, "Coochy-Coochy" (the 45 appeared only in the US). Now the CD include another bonus, the "Nashville Jam" with Ringo credited as
co-author.

What can I say of the album? Well, it's simply marvelous. It's one of the best country-flavoured albums made by a pop-rock artist ever. It even predated what a real pop country singer, Kenny Rogers, will do to gain huge success some years later. The songs themselves are all an even
collection of nice tunes and lyrics switching fittingly from melancholic to joyful. "$ 15 Dollars Draw", "Silent Homecoming", "Wine, Women and Loud Happy Songs", "Loser's Lounge", "Fastest Growing Heartache in the West"and "Beaucoups of Blues" are all excellent pieces in the Starr catalog. Believe me, you'll hardly hear Ringo singing and feeling confortably with the material as in this record. A pity the follow-up with the rest of the tracks as well as the live jam session with four 20-minute songs haven't seen the light of day yet.

Despite its short success in the charts, it was a clear improvement over "Sentimental Journey" and put Ringo in a musical level kept by his two next singles and the next two albums. Interesting too the change in style from one record to the next, from vaudeville/crooning oldies to country and then, after this album, to highly successful pop rock. I give "Beaucoups of Blues" no less than 9 points out of 10. Forget Beatles style (if there was ever one because of the Fab's musical richness and diversity) and enjoy this music recorded by an individual artist named Richard Starkey a.k.a. Ringo Starr.

~ Leonardo Ledesma.
Lima, Perú.


Ringo introduces me to country. God Bless him but it didn't take.  Sorry, man. Still, a classy album I never play.  (So many albums so little time) Great playing overall.  Jerry Reed.  Cool!

You know my favorites.

A 6 on the Ringo scale.

~ Jeff Scott
Toronto


The man who learned to play chess during the "Sgt. Pepper" sessions, made a lot of moves in the studio in 1970.  Besides working on "Let It Be" (the only Beatle to attend the Spector sessions), "All Things Must Pass" and "Plastic Ono Band," he even put out two albums of his own, something the Beatles hadn't done since 1965.  The cynical might say that "Beaucoups Of Blues"
required the least amount of work on Ringo's part out of everything else, that mostly it was the work of Pete Drake's arrangement, production and stable of writers.  The realist in me would point out that a lot of country albums are still made that way, as well as the whole backstreetboysbrittneyspearsnsync production line, and unlike these examples, Ringo was under no obligation to make this album; it wasn't a record company's final approval required but Ringo's.  Everything had to be right by him.  And the musicians are no slouch, either.  Already well known at the time were the Jordainaires (best known for the time with Elvis), harmonica
man Charlie McCoy, steel player Ben Keith, and Elvis' drummer, D. J. Fontana. Soon to be famous, Jerry Reed (did he get "When you're hot, you're hot" from Ringo, or did Ringo get it from him?), Jeannie Kendal (who had a hit with "Heaven's Just A Sin Away" with her father), Charlie Daniels and Tammy Wynette's future widower, George Richey.  But it's really Ringo's vocals that are the highlight.  Enough has been said of his natural affinity with country music.  But his all time loveliest singing ever on record can be found on "Without Her."  (Listen to the last chorus.)  Some of it's quite fun and upbeat, and one imagines that "$15 Draw" took him back to his that'll-be-the-days.  Not much has ever been said about the more serious material which I like even better.  Not just your standard country weepers..."Woman Of The Night" is obvious, but "Love Don't Last Long" deals with a drug bust and suicide, while "Silent Homecoming" is an antiwar song from the viewpoint of the parents of a dead soldier.  Sounds more like an evening of HBO than your standard country album, then or now.  A lot of substance here, musically, vocally, lyrically, emotionally...Perhaps it wasn't a big hit, but that has a lot to do with marketing.  Apple had previously been able to successfully market jazz (with the already well known
Modern Jazz Quartet), classical (John Tavener) or soul (Billy Preston, Doris Troy and Hot Chocolate).  They'd only been able to sell rock and pop.  Lest one think Capitol could have done it better, since they were selling country at the time, the trend at the time was countrypolitan:  hayseed image and pop-sounding records.  Maybe if he'd recorded in Bakersfield, like Buck Owens and Merle Haggard...But that still wouldn't have sold albums, and it wouldn't have been this album, not just one of Ringo's best, but quite honestly one of the best real country albums made.
~ Steven B. Topping

 

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This page was last updated June 9, 1999.