By John M. Borack
This is a 10-song document of a January 2014 concert held at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles to pay tribute to the music of the one and only Ringo Starr, who was presented with the Lifetime of Peace & Love Award by Academy Award-nominated director David Lynch (The Elephant Man, Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet).
Proceeds from the sale of the dowload-only release will benefit the David Lynch Foundation, whose mission is to assist in bringing Transcendental Meditation to at-risk populations across the globe. Most Fab Four fans will recall that Ringo and his fellow Beatles helped bring the concept of Transcendental Meditation to the attention of the masses back in 1967, when they studied TM under the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in India. Starr and Paul McCartney also performed at a 2009 concert in New York City to benefit Lynch’s foundation.
For The Lifetime of Peace & Love Tribute Concert, a crackerjack house band was assembled by musical director Don Was to back the seven acts featured on this collection, as well as Ringo himself. Members of this band read like a veritable who’s who, including guitarists Peter Frampton and Steve Lukather (Toto), drummer Kenny Aranoff, and keyboardist Benmont Tench (from Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers).
Note: A video premiere from the concert — a ringing performance of the Beatles' classic "With a Little Help from My Friends” — is shown above.
The participants range from alternative upstarts such as Ark Life (who lead off the proceedings with a bluesy take of “Can’t Do It Wrong” from Starr’s 2010 Y Not album) and The Head and the Heart (a faithful, pleasant reading of “Octopus’s Garden”) to more established artists such as soul chanteuse Bettye LaVette, who completely reinvents "It Don't Come Easy" as a six-and-a-half-minute steamy ballad veritably dripping with soul.
Brendan Benson (late of the Raconteurs) contributes a rockin’ take of "Don't Go Where The Road Don't Go," from Starr’s underrated 1992 Time Takes Time record, while Ben Harper dips back into the soul bag with his impassioned version of the Starr-Van Dyke Parks co-write, “Walk With You,” also originally found on Y Not.
Treading on more familiar territory (i.e., the hits) are pianist Ben Folds, who imbues "Oh My My" with a wide-eyed, slightly unhinged enthusiasm and a lead vocal that recalls Big Star-era Alex Chilton; and Ringo’s brother-in-law, good ‘ol Joe Walsh, who goes after “Back Off Boogaloo” with a lead vocal that sounds for all the world like – wait for it – Adam Sandler. (Sorry, Joe.) Dude can still play a mean guitar, though.
Then it’s left for the man of the hour to close out the proceedings in style, with Ringo out in front for a three song mini-set that includes a lovely run through of his 1973 solo classic “Photograph” (with Benmont Tench shining on the keys), “Boys” (via the Shirelles and, of course, The Beatles) and an energetic "With A Little Help From My Friends." In addition to Lukather and Frampton adding superior guitar solos, friends such as Edgar Winter, Jeff Lynne and even Jim Carrey (huh?) join in on backing vocals as Ringo engages the audience and bounds all over the stage, all of which can be seen in the exclusive video from the concert premiering with Goldmine.
Wonderful music benefiting a good cause, with a somewhat surprising roster of guest artists and interesting song selections make The Lifetime of Peace & Love Tribute Concert definitely worth checking out.