Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Ringo Starr - Beaucoups Of Blues (1970) Part Two

Album 3 - Ringo Starr - Beaucoups Of Blues (1970) - Part Two

US Amazon - MP3 / CD
UK Amazon - MP3 / CD

1. Beaucoups Of Blues
2. Love Don't Last Long
3. Fastest Growing Heartache In The West
4. Without Her
5. Woman Of The Night
6. I'd Be Taking All The Time
7. $15 Draw
8. Wine, Women And Loud Happy Songs
9. I Wouldn't Have You Any Other Way
10. Loser's Lounge
11. Waiting
12. Silent Homecoming

Songwriter/Musician Chuck Howard
The sixth song on the album is I'd Be Talking All The Time, which was written by Chuck Howard (his second appearance songwriting-wise) and Larry Kingston (his second appearance as a songwriter on here too).

Here we have a song that is about the feelings people have when a relationship has completely died disastrously.  There was no love left here, only hatred - one of those break-up's.  Music wise it's relatively simple chord wise, but with some great surprises musically.  Firstly I will say that Starr's vocal on here is great, including his perfect use of the twang, so to speak.  What I mean by that is where country singers particularly (and some rock 'n' rollers such as Buddy Holly) bend their voices in a way, whilst throwing in what are I suppose blue notes.  What I mean by that are notes that aren't part of the key, such as the note slide from Bb to B (the flattened fifth note in G major to the natural fifth).  It is something that gives country music it's particular sound and style.

Ringo during the Nashville sessions
To start the song off, there is an intro of D | D | G | G, which is basically the last part of the verse.  The verse itself is G | C | G | G | D | D | G | G.  The chorus then is G | G | C | C | D | A | D | D, which in itself is interesting because in the key of G, which the song is in, the natural chord there would be the A minor, and not the major (that uses the sharpened fourth note in the G major scale of C#).  If my friend Matt was reading this, then I am sure he would notice that that is in his list of songwriting tricks that the Beatles utilise a lot - the major fourth as opposed to the more natural minor fourth chord.  Later in the song, after the chorus that comes in from the solo, the song then shifts up a full tone for the repeated third verse, making it A | D | A | A | E | E | A | A.  A simple, yet well crafted song.

Fifteen Dollars
The next song on the album is $15 Draw, which is the third of the four songs written by Sorrells Pickard.  Musically the song is in G major and starts with some licks in the G major scale, followed by two bars of G major.  Then basically the song is twice through of G|Am|C|Dm|G|G, then C|C|Dm|Dm.  I think the musical turnaround that happens is Dm|C|Am|G|Em|Dm|Am|C|G, and then a bar of G.

1972 Eponymous solo album by Sorrells
Pickard. writer of four songs on here
I think that lyrically it is a story song about a guitarist/singer/songwriter who was given his uncle's guitar after his uncle had passed on.  The guitar was found in his the car of his uncle and the guy's fingers blistered while he was learning to play, which is something that does happen a lot to people when they learn to play the instrument while your fingers get used to it (the skin on the tips of your fingers harden up).  He is a guy that was married once before, but it never worked out, and he is a prodigal, because he speaks of problems with the family.  His father was seemingly disgusted that he didn't want to go into the family business, hence why the younger son, Tommy, has now taken over the business since the father has passed away.  I would take a leap at saying the song is actually a letter to his mother, hence the opening line "mama I guess you stood and cursed the day I found that old guitar," etc.  The "mama" there is basically the opening of the letter.  It is a very clever lyric, and Ringo being the every man performer is perfect to put that lyric across.  His voice has that sort of feel to it that puts the emotion of the lyric across.  It is a song that speaks about how the character is very proud at how he is getting on with the band that he is a member of, whilst at the same time saddened by the fact that his family is seemingly unhappy with him.  He wants so much for his life to be accepted by his family, but the fact that his "daddy's passed away" means that there will be no reconciliation with him.  He hopes to mend the relations with his mother and brother though and promises to send them fifteen dollars as soon as he draws it from one of the gigs he has in Bolton City.  The thing is that after looking I can only find two places named Bolton in the US, and they are both towns (Connecticut and Massachusetts), and Bolton in Lancashire, UK is only a town as well.  Oh well, it is only a song after all.  It is a really good song though that is quite simple musically.  You can really hear Ringo really got into the song because he gets carried away at the end when the band are playing out musically.  A lot of producers may have faded Ringo out once the last section had finished lyrically, but here the producer wanted to capture that sense of enjoyment from Ringo.
Ringo with acoustic guitar, which
he played on some of the songs.

Song number eight then is the Larry Kingston written Wine, Women & Loud Happy Songs.  The song is another simple song musically which in this case is about a drunkard who likes to go out, get drunk, pick women up, and sing bar songs.  However, the sad part of it all is that his alcohol consumption means that he goes to far and irritates the people who are at first attracted to him, because they leave him after so long and he is left alone.  This person is an alcoholic, which is ironic considering that Ringo himself very soon would be one himself.

The late great Jerry Reed
The song is in 3/4 time (yes a waltz) that is in the key of D major  It opens up with a straight D major chord, and then it basically D for four bars, A for two bars, and then G for 2 bars.  The one bar occasionally thrown in as an extended gap is A major.  When the second verse comes in, the song is raised by a full tone where the chords change to E, B, and A major chords, which they get to with some really nice arpeggio that is basically working through the chords G to A and then finally E, because then it has gone into the key of E major of course.  A quick in and out song basically, that has some really good country twang thrown in by Ringo in the shape of some clever "bar style" vibrato, such as the occasions where he goes vocally from major third down to minor third and then back to the major third all while the music remains on the major chord, except for a couple of lead instruments just about audible enough in the background to hear, which adds to the emotional weight of the piece.  Because it is country music it works perfectly, and he keeps throwing things like that in.  It feels to me as if a lot of time could have been spent trying to get that exactly right.

One of two bass players on the
album - Roy Huskey Jr
The ninth song is the third of four songs written by Chuck Howard on this album I Wouldn't Have You Any Other Way.  The song is a believable narrative of a man in a relationship with someone where he is perfectly happy with the other person, even though he doesn't always understand where she is coming from.  He doesn't want to change her either because he likes the individuality and the fact that he wouldn't have her "any other way".  Musically it is in the key of E major for the most part (I'll explain very soon what I mean by that).  It opens with a run of the notes C# and B to the E chord, which is done twice before the opening verse chorus type thing.  The first verse chorus opens with the pushed chord of A/C# to the B chord, which is the "on the one" chord, then A and then E.  This is done once more before the "Sometimes I don't understand..." part which is E, E7 (which includes the b7th note in the key in the note D), A, A/C#, then B, A, and finally the quick E to A to E.

Best of The Kendalls, featuring
Jeannie Kendall - harmony singer on
the song I Wouldn't Have You Any
Other Way.
After this, the verse/chorus pattern changes for the rest of the song.  This time the opening A/C# leads to B, then a E to A to E change, and then a F#m into a B to A to B change, which then leads to the same "Sometimes I..." part of E, E7, A, A/C#, then B, A, and E to A to E.  When the song moves up though, it moves up by five semitones to A major.  Here the "Sometimes..." section that is repeated becomes A, A7, D, D/F#, E, D, and then a A to D to A run.  This change is one that works in every way except for Ringo's voice, which I feel bad saying really, but I am being honest.  I think the rise in key seems very uncomfortable and forced - it is very jarring.  Jeannie Kendall of The Kendalls is the great female harmony singer.

Next time I will be looking at the rest of this second album by Ringo, which are songs ten to twelve, plus the two songs that were bonus tracks on the CD.  I will only touch on the second of those two songs because it is a jam session, but the first one is the largely overlooked Coochy Coochy, which Ringo wrote himself.

Links -
Sorrells Pickard's eponymous album on Amazon US
The Best of The Kendalls on Amazon US and Amazon UK