Rigo Star and Ringo Starr

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>0/5

Rigo Star Attention! (IMA)

Ringo Starr Vertical Man (Mercury)

Paris-based Congolese guitarist Rigo Star has been playing soukous and rumba since the 1970s, with Papa Wemba and Viva la Musica, Kanda Bongo Man and other bands, as well as under his own flag. Attention! is his second CD available in the U.S. and the first on which he plays all the instruments (except horns) himself. The singing is provided by Sam Mangwana, and the lyrics are in Lingala (a translation is available in the CD booklet). Maybe because of its one-man-band origins, the music sounds programmed even where it isn't and often sounds more like an early-'80s Marvin Gaye or British new-wave album than like classic Afropop.

Liverpudlian drummer/singer/filmmaker Ringo Starr (pictured) has been playing rock since the early 1960s, in Rory Storme and the Hurricanes, the Beatles, the All-Starr Band and similar groups. With his 1970 solo album, Sentimental Journey, Starr set the tone for his musically ultraconservative solo career, riding purely on previous successes by imitating the sounds of his own popular records.

The present CD, Vertical Man, features the usual guest appearances from past associates, which are entertaining only while you're reading the credits list. How unmemorable these songs are! All of them sound like second-string L.A. session musicians imitating also-ran bands playing filler. Comparing it to Huey Lewis and the News, minus the hooks and with a guitarist pretending to be George Harrison (why not just get George Harrison?), would be overly charitable. Although Starr's voice remains charmingly homey, even his version of Lennon-McCartney's "Love Me Do" only points up the insipid lyrics.

If you're interested in drummers' solo albums with cameos from the people who really mattered in the bands that made them famous, try Moe Tucker.