Big 95 Music News: Ringo Starr, Michael McDonald

RINGO STARR:  New album out today

Ringo Starr releases his 19th studio solo album Give More Love today.

But instead of slowing down now that he's in his 70s, he has actually gotten more prolific. Give More Love is his fifth album since 2008, a pace of record-making that's faster than any time since the '70s. That may have to do with the way he records these days.

Ringo Starr on how he records these days:

“The process has been pretty similar over the last ten years – to make life easy. I do it at home and the interesting thing about doing it at home, like, people pass by. We’re in the middle of it and, like, Ben Harper. He was not on the record. He was, like, hanging out and I was doing the vocals and he said, ‘Oh, I’ve got something for that,’ and he put on a great harmony. It’s that loose, really. You don’t have to be on the album, but if you’ve got something worthwhile, put it on.”

Ringo says that there's no special formula he uses when recording at home:

“I’d like to say there’s a set way, but there isn’t. We just have a lot of fun – very serious fun, ‘cause we are working – and I just enjoy it. And then I can pet my dogs and have a cup of tea with Barbara. I can, like, life. I’m not in the studio.”

Ringo will reunite with his All Starr Band this fall, including a stop at the Toyota Music Factory in Irving on November 3rd.   

MICHAEL McDONALD:  New album out today, written mostly on guitar

Michael McDonald releases his new album today (Friday). Wide Open is a collection of demos and originals he began recording back in the days of his highly successful Motown covers project.

Unlike the keyboard-driven songs such as "What a Fool Believes" and "Real Love" that became his signature, most of Wide Open was created on guitar:

"You know, when I was with the Doobies, the guitar songs that we have done back in the day of the band, that was usually left largely to the guitar players. That was their expertise. I hadn't really played guitar in a while, but I still write on guitar from time to time. And so those songs I had written on guitar and demoed, I thought of those for other artists. I was thinking of those for maybe Bonnie Raitt or someone like that. It's one of those things where I wound up doing things I wouldn't normally have done on this record. So in this way, it's a little different."

McDonald's co-writers include some respected Nashville names: Beth Nielsen Chapman, John Goodwin, Gary Nicholson and John Peppard, who teamed with Garth Brooks on the country smash "In Another's Eyes."

Michael McDonald has an impressive list of guest contributors on Wide Open, including a longtime member of The Allman Brothers Band:

"Warren Haynes contributed, Robben Ford played on it. Well, Shannon Forrest was one of the best drummers I know of, my producer and drummer and arranger and good friend. Tom Scott, originally of the LA Express. There's no shortage of wonderful people that we enlisted their help on this thing."

Michael says he never expected to record some of these songs. He'd hoped his good friend Bonnie Raitt might cover one or several of the songs -- but that deal never worked out.

Michael McDonald isn't looking for another hit. He's not geared to statistics:

"To be honest with you, at my age and this point in time, I don't even know what the music business is anymore. But I never really cared much about that anyway, even when I... back in the '70s, I never read a Billboard [magazine], I never did that kind of stuff.

McDonald introduced a few songs from Wide Open during his summer tour with Boz Scaggs, and was pleased by the "warm reaction."

THE DOORS:  New compilation out this week

The 50th anniversary celebration of The Doors continues today (Friday) with the release of The Singles Collection.

Guitarist Robby Krieger says they considered themselves an album band, but they understood the benefit of releasing singles.

 "To us it was kind of an annoyance, but you know, in those days you had to have a single pretty much to get national recognition. So we went with the flow, you know."

Available in multiple configurations, this latest compilation contains all the hits, as well as several songs the three surviving members recorded after Jim Morrison checked out in 1971. Among them are "Tightrope Ride" and "The Mosquito." You'll also want to check out live recordings, with Jim, of "Roadhouse Blues" and "Gloria."

STEVE MILLER:  First reissue is out today (Friday)

The first release in the Steve Miller catalog reissue campaign is out today (Friday).

Ultimate Hits includes several unreleased tracks and is available in multiple formats. A vinyl version will follow on October 27th. Bonus songs include live versions of "Space Cowboy" and "Living in the U.S.A.," a studio cut of "Seasons" and the demo for "Take the Money and Run."

And, like all his recordings, Miller had complete control over Ultimate Hits, which was why he signed with Capitol in the late '60s:

"If the record company wanted to put a picture of me out, I had control over that picture. The artwork, I had control over that. The music, I had control over that. The publishing, I kept control over that. And that's how it started. That's how we were able to make the records we wanted to make."

Future reissues will draw on Miller's archive of music, photos, memorabilia, artwork, handwritten notes and journals.

Having signed a new deal with Universal, which owns Capitol, Miller will also release new material through the label.  Miller's Greatest Hits 1974–78 has sold 14 million copies in the U.S. and is number-37 on the Recording Industry Association of America list of the best-selling albums.

Miller is back on the road with shows in Memphis tonight, followed by Tulsa, Oklahoma on Saturday and Oklahoma City on Sunday.


Don Henley will host the annual Global Environmental Leadership Award Dinner  tonight  at Boston Symphony Hall. Paul Simon will perform a 30-minute set at the event, which benefits Henley’s Walden Woods Project.

John Oates will release his next solo album, Arkansas, next March.

Farm Aid, which takes place Saturday in Burgettstown, Pennsylvania, will stream live at starting at 3:00 p.m. ET. The concert, which features John Mellencamp, Neil Young, Dave Matthews, Willie Nelson, Jack Johnson, The Avett Brothers, Sheryl Crow and Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, will air on AXS-TV starting at 7:00 p.m. ET.

The new season of Dan Rather’s The Big Interview on AXS-TV will feature quite an array of classic rock personalities. Sharon Osbourne kicks it off on October 10th. Also stepping up to the microphone are Tom Johnston, Patrick Simmons and John McFee of The Doobie Brothers on October 17th; Steve Miller on November 14th; Peter Frampton on November 21st; and E Street Band guitarist Steve Van Zandt on December 5th.

The recently released Stories We Could Tell: The Very Best of John Sebastian collects 16 songs from his post-Lovin' Spoonful career. Highlights include his near-hit "She's a Lady" and the TV theme "Welcome Back."

Tonight in Nashville, Gregg Allman’s son Devon will be joined by singers Buddy Miller, Joan Osborne and others at the Country Music Hall of Fame for a tribute to Gregg.

Cheap Trick singer Robin Zander and his family weathered Hurricane Irma, and he was back with the band Wednesday night in Knoxville, Tennessee. Zander skipped a show last Saturday in Washington state to fly back to Tampa to be with his family.

Frank Sinatra's Ultimate Christmas packs 20 of Ol' Blue Eyes' seasonal favorites, such as "The Christmas Waltz," "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and a version of "The 12 Days of Christmas" with his children Nancy, Tina and Frank Junior. It goes on sale in CD, digital and vinyl formats October 6th.

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