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6 Degrees Entertainment

Title - 'Liverpool 8' (Capitol)
Artist - Ringo Starr

"Liverpool 8" is the brand new album from legendary artist Ringo Starr, his first with EMI since the early 70s. The CD features 12 new tracks, written and produced by Ringo Starr and Dave Stewart, recorded in England and in California, and refers to the section of the city and to the postal district of Liverpool 8, where Starr grew up.

It's also the title of the album's upbeat, vibrant lead track that the fab four's drummer recorded to help celebrate it being the European Capital of Culture 2008. It is also quite possibly the best thing he's done since "Goodnight Vienna," and contains some of his best solo work in recent memory.

This may be due to the album's odd gestation. Begun with long-term Ringo cohort Mark Hudson, it almost derailed when Starr allegedly sacked Hudson for dropping out of a tour. Then Hudson was replaced by the sane man's Jeff Lynne, Dave Stewart, which certainly explains the album's increased pop sheen and may well be a lot to do with the fact that "Liverpool 8" sounds like it was made if not in, then at least near, the 21st century.

With former Eurythmics Dave Stewart lending his production skills, the album has melodic flair, rock punch and lots of lovingly crafted retro touches to amuse Beatles completists. Every song has melody, wit and the galumphing charm that has marked Starr's best work. And, like the best work of anyone with a long pedigree, it often sounds like a compilation album from a parallel universe.

It's hard to say who would be crying out for a new Ringo Starr album these days, but anyone who buys records based on the abilities rather than the age of the artist should feel no shame owning "Liverpool 8".