Former Beatles’ Drummer Ringo Starr celebrates his Birthday today, July 7th (having been born in 1940). He will not be signing any autographs. A lot people know that Ringo met his current wife, Barbara Bach, while they were filming the 1981 movie Caveman (which I actually saw in the theater back in the Stone Age). But if you really want to see Starr pretend to act, you simply must see him in the role of Youngman Grand alongside the great Peter Sellers in The Magic Christian, which is just beyond brilliant. Great soundtrack by the band Badfinger as well! Happy Birthday, Ringo!
I think David Bowie started it all in 1973 with Pin Ups, an album on which he performs some of his favorite songs by mid ’60s British groups. Since then, the name-act-pays-tribute-to-its-influences album has been done well by Duran Duran (Thank You) and less well by A Prefect Circle (eMOTIVe). But now I think Def Leppard has recorded possibly the best and most exciting album of covers ever with Yeah!, which was released last Tuesday. The most amazing thing about this record is not only how it makes painfully obvious how much most modern bands completely suck, but also how vibrant and authentic Def Leppard’s versions of these songs sound. I had no idea that Joe Elliott was such a vocal chameleon. I can, with no trace of irony, say that Yeah! is my favorite album of the year so far.
The track listing for YEAH! is as follows:
“20th Century Boy” (T. Rex, 1973)
“Rock On” (David Essex, 1973)
“Hanging On The Telephone” (originally recorded by The Nerves in 1977, and Blondie in 1978)
“Waterloo Sunset” (The Kinks, 1967)
“Hell Raiser” (Sweet, 1973: Listen to the opening guitar riff and tell me Nikki Sixx didn’t conveniently “borrow” that for “Kick Start My Heart”)
“10538 Overture” ( Electric Light Orchestra, 1972)
“Street Life” (Roxy Music, 1973: My favorite Roxy Music song ever)
“Drive-In Saturday” (David Bowie, 1973)
“Little Bit Of Love” (Free, 1972)
“The Golden Age Of Rock & Roll” (Mott the Hoople, 1974)
“No Matter What” (Badfinger, 1970)
“He’s Gonna Step On You Again” (originally recorded by John Kongos in 1971 but probably better known by the Happy Mondays’ version, “Step On,” released in 1990)
“Don’t Believe A Word (Thin Lizzy, 1976)
“Stay With Me” (Faces, 1971)
Regardless of how you feel about Def Leppard — who have been one of my favorite bands forever — if you love and miss the glory days of ’70s rock, Yeah! is absolutely essential listening. Great job guys!