“I was in the greatest show on Earth/ For what it was worth,” the fourth Beatle sings on the opening song here, and he’s not about to let anyone forget it. Ringo Starr was the only one of the Fab Four to maintain almost consistently good relationships with all of his former bandmates, and his legendary affability paid off on his third solo album: John Lennon, George Harrison and Paul McCartney all contributed songs, and they all play on it, along with Marc Bolan, Billy Preston and most of the Band.
And what do you know: It worked. Ringo was a big hit, and it’s a total pleasure of an album. It stars the world’s most likeable hedonist as himself, crooning in a variety-show setting (and, incidentally, playing some kickass drums). He runs through mock-arrogance (“I’m the Greatest”), mock-heartbreak (the magnificent “Photograph,” which works because Starr’s sentimentality doesn’t seem quite genuine), mock-lasciviousness (a cover of the old rock ‘n’ roll tune “You’re Sixteen”), and, on “Step Lightly,” what appears to be actual tap-dancing by our multitalented star. It’s as un-heavy a record as anyone made in 1973: a beloved entertainer getting over on showmanship, rep and a lot of help from his friends.