- Timeline See what happened in 1970
- UK release date:
- Mar 27, 1970
- US release date:
- Apr 24, 1970
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3:26 • Studio version
Night And Day
2:25 • Studio version
2:37 • Studio version
Bye Bye Blackbird
2:11 • Studio version
I'm A Fool To Care
2:39 • Studio version
Blue, Turning Grey Over You
3:19 • Studio version
Love Is A Many Splendoured Thing
3:05 • Studio version
2:42 • Studio version
You Always Hurt The One You Love
2:20 • Studio version
Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?
2:44 • Studio version
Let The Rest Of The World Go By
2:55 • Studio version
Sentimental Journey is the debut studio album by former Beatles drummer Ringo Starr, released in 1970, as the band was splintering apart. Although Starr was the third member of the group to issue solo work (after George Harrison and John Lennon), Sentimental Journey is notable for being the first non-avant-garde studio album by a member of the band, in light of the experimental, soundtrack or live releases his aforementioned bandmates had already released. Paul McCartney’s debut, McCartney, would follow three weeks after Sentimental Journey’s release. Recording of the album was completed in early March 1970, with Sentimental Journey being rushed out a few weeks later to avoid clashing in the shops with the Beatles’ impending final album Let It Be in May.
The idea for a solo album first came from the rest of the Beatles, who said that Starr should do a solo record, despite his minimal songwriting abilities, and later from his mother Elsie Starkey and step-dad Harry during one day at their Liverpool home. His mother said that Starr had good vocals. The plan was to create an album of standards that would reflect his mother’s favourite songs, even asking them and other members of his family to choose the tracks. Starr engaged the services of Beatles producer George Martin to helm his solo debut, shortly after the Beatles’ Abbey Road (1969) came out.
“I wondered, what shall I do with my life now that it’s over? I was brought up with all those songs, you know, my family used to sing those songs, my mother and my dad, my aunties and uncles. They were my first musical influences on me. So I went to see George Martin and said: ‘Let’s do an album of standards, and to make it interesting we’ll have all the arrangements done by different people” —Ringo Starr
Starr had one song each arranged by different musicians, ranging from Martin himself, Richard Perry, Quincy Jones and Klaus Voormann among others, as Starr thought the album would have a flavour to it. On 1 October 1969, Starr asked Count Basie to write an arrangement score for “Night and Day“; the finished score arrived to Starr on 6 October. However, Chico O’Farrill received credit for the arrangement. Sessions for the album began on 27 October, on which Starr, backed by an orchestra, recorded the track “Night and Day” at Abbey Road Studios. The track was also mixed the same day. The next session didn’t take place until over a week later, on 6 November at Wessex Sound Studios, recording a track that currently remains unreleased, “Stormy Weather“. The following day, the backing track for the McCartney-arranged “Stardust” was recorded, which nearly earned the album the title of Ringo Stardust. On 14 November, Starr added his vocal to that track, and started developing the track “Dream“; arranged by Martin, the song was finished on 18 November at Trident Studios. The backing track for “Blue, Turning Grey Over You” was recorded 10 days later on 28 November, and then completed on 4 December, the vocals for the track weren’t recorded until later in the new year.
Shortly after recording “Blue, Turning Grey Over You” Starr went on a trip to the US, and went on to record lead for the Jones-arranged “Love Is a Many Splendored Thing” on 26 December, at A&M Studios. The first session in the new year, 1970, for the album was held on 14 January, at Olympic Sound Studios. There, vocals for “Love Is a Many Splendored Thing” and “Sentimental Journey” were laid down, the latter was arranged by Perry. The next session took place nearly a month later on 3 February 1970, at Abbey Road Studios, where the backing track for “Love Is a Many Splendored Thing” was remade, featuring an orchestra, and Starr laying down a new vocal track for the song. Starr re-recorded his vocals for the song on the 5th. Starr recorded vocal overdubs on “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?” on both 9 and 18 February 1970, the track was arranged by Elmer Bernstein. On 11 February, the orchestra for “I’m a Fool to Care” was conducted by Voorman, who also arranged his version of the song at Starr’s request. On the same day, Starr added his vocal track to the song. A day later, the backing track, and Starr’s vocal, for “Let the Rest of the World Go By” were recorded; the track was arranged by Les Reed. Nearly a week later, on 18 February, overdubs were added to the song.
That same day, the vocals for both “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?” and “Let the Rest of the World Go By” were re-recorded. Following this, “It Don’t Come Easy” was recorded during a late-night part of the session, under the title “Gotta Pay Your Dues“. Two days later, “I’m a Fool to Care“, “Let the Rest of the World Go By” and “Sentimental Journey” were mixed. On 24 February, over a week later, Starr’s vocal was recorded for “Blue, Turning Grey Over You“. Now moving to De Lane Lea Studios a day later, the Johnny Dankworth-conducted orchestra had made the backing track for “You Always Hurt the One You Love“, on to which, Starr added his vocal track the same day. Some time in February, the unreleased tracks “Autumn Leaves” and “I’ll Be Looking at the Moon” were recorded; eventually finding their way onto bootleg albums. Moving again, this time to Morgan Sound Studios on 5 March, at Paul McCartney’s suggestion, the orchestra-laden “Whispering Grass (Don’t Tell the Trees)” and “Bye Bye Blackbird” were taped. On 6 March, work was done on “You Always Hurt the One You Love” by Dankworth adding drums, piano and saxophone; this and four other tracks were mixed on the day. The following day, further overdubs were added to “I’m a Fool to Care“.
Release and aftermath
Sentimental Journey was released in the UK on 27 March 1970, and in the US, on 24 April 1970. It received fair reviews upon its release, although many critics found the idea of Starr covering standards a bit odd considering his musical background. His fame in the Beatles was all that was required, however, to get it all the way to number 7 in the UK – with no single release to promote it – and number 22 in the US. The album sold 500,000 copies in the US, within the first two weeks of release.
Among his fellow Beatles, in an interview with BBC Radio’s Johnny Moran, George Harrison described Sentimental Journey as “a great album” and “really nice“. Conversely, John Lennon told Rolling Stone editor Jann Wenner in December 1970 that he was “embarrassed” by Starr’s debut. Starr later said of Sentimental Journey: “The great thing was that it got my solo career moving – not very fast, but just moving. It was like the first shovel of coal in the furnace that makes the train inch forward.”
The album cover consisted of a photograph by Richard Polak, showing a pub, The Empress in Dingle, Liverpool, located close to Starr’s place of birth. The superimposed figures in the windows of the pub are Starr’s relatives. To promote the album, Starr appeared in a promo video, which was directed by Neil Aspinall, for the album’s title track on the show Talk of the Town on 15 March, and on 29 March for Frost on Saturday, hosted by David Frost, which showed the video that was made for Talk of the Town.
A budget edition was released in February 1981 by Capitol. Sentimental Journey was remastered and reissued on CD in 1995, on 1 May in the UK, and on 15 August in the US. The music video for the title track appeared on the CD/DVD version of Photograph: The Very Best of Ringo Starr.
In his review for Rolling Stone magazine, Greil Marcus called Sentimental Journey “horrendous” but “classy“. Music critic Robert Christgau said it was “For over-fifties and Ringomaniacs“. More recently, Richie Unterberger of AllMusic has written of the album: “Savaged by some critics, it’s really not all that bad. But it ain’t rock & roll, it’s not what Ringo does best, and it’s not an essential part of anyone’s collection, Beatles fan or otherwise …“