Vertical Man

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Vertical Man
Original album artwork by Ringo & Barbara, Mark & Barbara
Studio album by Ringo Starr
Released 16 June 1998 (US)
3 August 1998 (UK)
Recorded March – April 1997,
Whatinthewhatthe? Studios, Los Angeles
20 July 1997 – 17 February 1998,
Whatinthewhatthe? Studios, Los Angeles; The Mill, Sussex; AIR Studios, London; Village Recorder Studios, Los Angeles; FPSHOT, Oxfordshire; A&M Studios, Hollywood
Genre Rock
Length 51:48
Label Mercury
Producer Mark Hudson, Ringo Starr
Ringo Starr chronology
Ringo Starr and His Third All-Starr Band-Volume 1
Vertical Man
VH1 Storytellers
Singles from Vertical Man
  1. "La De Da"
    Released: 20 July 1998 (US) (withdrawn)
  2. "King of Broken Hearts"
    Released: 1998 (promo only)
  3. "One"
    Released: 1998 (promo only)

Vertical Man is Ringo Starr's 11th studio album, issued in 1998. The release represents Starr's attempt at a comeback following the enormous success of The Beatles Anthology project. Like some of his best-loved projects, Starr would engage the help of many of his musician friends in making Vertical Man, including Scott Weiland, Brian Wilson, Alanis Morissette, Ozzy Osbourne, Tom Petty, Joe Walsh, Timothy B. Schmit, Steven Tyler, and former-Beatles, Paul McCartney and George Harrison.[1] Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick mixed the tracks,[2] and Starr and Hudson served as producers.[1]

Background and recording[edit]

Ringo Starr met Dean Grakal, a songwriter, at a party on New Year's Eve 1996 and the pair had a discussion about songwriting, with Grakal proposing that they form a team with Mark Hudson.[3] Starr and Hudson had met years prior while Starr was working on Time Takes Time (1992).[1][3] Speaking of the writing process, in an interview with Billboard magazine, Starr said: "This is the first time I've really been involved [in my record]. Whereas before, I'd just sort of pick out other people's songs or songs other people had written that I thought were vaguely trying to say what I would have liked to say, on this, we're really trying to say what I want to say, thank you."[4]

In February 1997, Hudson and Grakal visited Starr in his Beverly Hills residency for some songwriting.[1] The result of this writing session was a song called "My Love", which was promptly renamed as "Everyday",[5] after Starr commented that McCartney had used the title.[6] The song was demoed under that name by Starr, Hudson, Grakal, and guitarist Steve Dudas.[3] Happy with this session,[5] the quartet followed this up with more recordings the following month, at Whatinthewhatthe? Studios, located in Los Angeles.[7] The four musicians recorded two tracks: "Mr. Double-It-Up", and "One",[8] the latter, per Grakal's lyric sheet, originally started out as "All It Takes Is One".[5] For these sessions, Starr plays the drum set he had used while with the Beatles.[5] In mid-to-late April, Starr and Hudson work on Vertical Man, while at the same time Starr is working on rehearsals for an upcoming tour.[5] Before embarking on a tour starting from 28 April, the final track Starr records is "I'll Be Fine Anywhere".[5] After the tour had finished on 8 June, Starr went on holiday, and returned in July.[5] Recording for the album restarted in the same month, on 20 July, with Starr playing with the Roundheads, as his backing band.[5]

We had this open-door policy, whereby if you dropped by while we were recording, you were going to get asked to be on the record.[5]

– Ringo Starr, after several people showed up at the sessions

Starr and the Roundheads record the tracks "What in the... World", "La De Da", and "Mindfield", on 20 July at Whatinthewhatthe? Studios.[9] On 28 July, Starr adds his vocal to "What in the... World", and two days later, to "Without Understanding".[9] Walsh shows up at Whatinthewhatthe? Studios and adds guitar parts to "What in the... World", "La De Da", and "Mindfield", on 31 July.[9] The net day, Starr re-did his "Without Understanding" vocal.[9] On 5 August, the track "Old Country Song", shortly afterwards to be re-titled as "Good News", was recorded.[9] The bass track to "Good News" was recorded two days later, by Lee Rocker.[9] Starr and Hudson flew to Europe, at the end of August.[5]

On 29 September, at McCartney's The Mill studio, McCartney, Starr, Hudson, Emerick and Paul Wright work on the track "La De Da", which McCartney adds bass and backing vocals to.[10] This session was filmed by Grakal, and excerpts were later featured in the music video for the song.[5] Also recorded was a new bass track for "What in the... World",[10] replacing the placeholder bass track from a July session.[5] Upon hearing a playback of the track, McCartney remarked "Whoo ... Rich! Sounds kinda Beatle-ish!" to which Starr replied "I know! That's what I said to Mark months ago".[5] McCartney, now looking at Starr, says "You are a fucking Beatle!"[5] While Starr was in Paris to watch McCartney's daughter, Stella, fashion show, string overdubs were added on to "I'm Yours" and "King of Broken Hearts" on 15 October, at AIR Studios, located in London.[10] Starr returns to Los Angeles on 1 November to add overdubs to the latest recorded material,[5] and on 3 November, records "I Was Walkin'".[10] On 4 November, "The Puppet Song" was recorded,[10] the song had started from a comment by Starr ("Put the puppet to bed") and would be renamed to "Puppet".[5] Two days later, on the 6th, "Sometimes" was recorded,[10] which contained a riff taken from Ringo's Rotogravure's (1976) "Cryin'".[5]

I've always loved that song. I didn'tget to play on the first one (1962) – I'll show the bastards![5]

– Ringo Starr, on the choice of re-making "Love Me Do"

Overdubs of an steel guitar were added to "One" and "Sometimes" by Jeff Baxter on 7 November.[10] On the same day, Jim Cox adds keyboard overdubs to several songs;[10] Starr originally wanted Billy Preston to play the keyboards, but he was in jail at the time.[5] Baxter added keyboard to three tracks: "I Was Walkin'", "La De Da" and "Sometimes", at Village Recorder Studios on 11 November.[10] Overdubs to were added to a number of tracks the following day at the same studio.[10] On 13 November, an ensemble of 45 people, consisting of Starr's friends and family, gathered at Village Recorder Studios to record backing vocals to the track "La De Da".[10] Both Schmit and Dave Gibbs adding backing vocals to two tracks, "Puppet" and "Sometimes", the following day.[10] On 17 November, Tyler flew in from Amsterdam to Los Angeles to overdub harmonica to a re-make of "Love Me Do" and "I Was Walkin'".[10]

The following day Tyler re-did his harmonica part to "Love Me Do" at Starr's request, who wanted it to sound close to the original version.[10] Morissette stops by Whatinthewhatthe? Studios and ended up laying down a vocal for "Drift Away", on 19 November.[10] The next day, at Village Recorder Studios, the gospel-choir group Sauce pop into the studio to laying backing vocals down for ""Without Understanding" and "Drift Away".[5] Wilson, and Bach's cousin, Christian Phillippe Quillici, overdub backing vocals to "Without Understanding" on 25 November.[2] Wilson dubbed several backing vocal tracks at Hudson's request.[5] Also on the same day, Morissette adds backing vocals to two tracks, "Mindfield" and "I Was Walkin'".[2] Two mixes, one with vocals, the other of just the backing track, is made of the "King of Broken Hearts" and "I'll Be Fine Anywhere" songs by engineer Eric Greedy, and is sent the next day to Harrison at his Friar Park residence.[5] Up to this point, 16 tracks in total have been recorded for the album.[5] Straight away from arriving in Los Angeles on 30 November, up to 11 December, Emerick mixes 5 tracks at A&M Studios ("One", "Mr. Double-It-Up", "Everyday", "I'm Yours" and "What in the... World").[2] Also on the 11th, minor mixing was made to "Love Me Do".[5]

Since not paying rent from the beginning of the record sessions, the landlord lord's secretary, Nina Pieseckyj, drops by Whatinthewhatthe? Studios to request for the rent, on 12 December.[5] Starr immediately asks her whether or not if she plays an instrument, to which she replied "Yeah, cello", Starr then proceeded to tell her to "go get it".[5] Pieseckyj ends up playing a cello riff similar to "I Am the Walrus" onto the track "Vertical Man".[5] Also on this day, Starr was announced to have signed with a EMI subsidiary label, Guardian Records, to release his new album[2] on the planned date of 21 April 1998.[nb 1][5] On 16 December, a final mix of "Love Me Do" was made.[2] Only a few days later after being signed to Guardian however, the label is shutdown by the then-current EMI president, Ken Barry, with several other minor labels, leaving Starr without a label to release the album.[2] Upon founding out that the label was closing, Starr added a final lead vocal track to "Vertical Man".[5] All musicians and staff members took a Christmas break from recording.[5] Guitar overdubs by Harrison, for two songs ("King of Broken Hearts" and "I'll Be Fine Anywhere"),[5] were sent to Starr via mail and arrived on 22 December, who went to Village Recorder Studios with the Roundheads to hear the tapes.[11] Upon hearing the solos, Starr exclaimed "You're killing me, George. You've got me crying, you bugger!".[11]

Between 6 and 11 January 1998, the tracks "Mindfield", "King of Broken Hearts" and "Drift Away" were mixed at A&M Studios.[2] Osbourne adds a vocal track to "Vertical Man" on 16 January.[2] The following day, at A&M Studios, saxophonist Joel Peskin overdubs saxophone onto "Puppet", which is then mixed on 23 January.[2] On 29 January, Starr, with friends, listen to a playback of the album.[2] Hudson and Emerick flew to New York, on 17 February, to oversee mastering of the album.[12] Later that day, meeting up with Bruce Grakal, Hudson and Grakal have a meeting with Danny Goldberg, from Mercury, making a deal to release the album.[12] On 23 April, Tyler's vocal is removed by Starr, at Mercury's request, as Aerosmith was due to have tracks released on Armageddon soundtrack.[12] Mastering is handled at Masterdisc, by Greg Calbi, the next day.[12] Final mastering for the album was done[12] from 2 to 6 May at A&M Studios.[5] On the same day, at Abbey Road Studios, Starr, and Mark and Scott Gordon, via telephone, record Petty's (who is assisted by Greedy) vocals for the song "Drift Away", who was at Village Recorder Studios, in Los Angeles.[5] "Drift Away" was remastered, now with Petty's vocals for the song in the mix, on 12 May.[5]

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[13]
Galeria Musical 5/5 stars[14]
MusicHound 2.5/5 stars[15]

On both 13 and 14 April 1998, Starr held interviews to help promote the album.[5][12] On the latter day, a photograph of Starr was taken for the album booklet by Henry Diltz.[5][12] Starr planned to film a music video for "La De Da" at Shea Stadium in New York,[16] though when the scheduled day arrived, filming was disrupted due to rain.[5][12] As a result, filming moved to the streets of New York City,[12] where Starr was shot sitting on a bench with an umbrella.[5] The video is intercut with Starr and his backing band performing the song, along with footage of McCartney singing the chorus from the previous September.[5] The original plan was for Starr to conduct a crowd singing one verse from "La De Da".[16] On 14 May, in the US, Mercury sent out Electronic press kits (EPKs) for the album.[5][17] On 18 May, Entertainment Tonight aired an interview with McCartney and Starr that was filmed during the sessions at McCartney's home studio.[5][17] The "La De Da" video first aired on MTV in Europe, on 19 May, while in the US, the video aired on Entertainment Tonight on 25 May.[5][17] Interviews with Starr about the album were printed in both New Yorker and USA Today newspapers.[5]

With the recent Beatles Anthology having introduced the group to newer and younger fans, it was reasoned that Starr would benefit from the exposure;[5] McCartney's Flaming Pie had done very well upon its 1997 release.[18] With Starr newly signed to a worldwide major label deal with Mercury,[12] he was hoping for a similar reaction. On 1 June, radio stations were sent promotional copies of the single.[17] A radio special, on 15 June, premiered the album worldwide.[16] Vertical Man was released on 16 June in the US,[nb 2][20] with "La De Da" released as a single on 20 July[nb 3][22] before being withdrawn a week later.[20] It received average reviews and reached number 61 in the US. The album was then released in the UK on 3 August,[23] where it bubbled below the official Top 75, reaching number 85 there,[24] after having sold 2,000 copies.[25] The album was originally to be titled Thanks for Comin', before being changed after looking through a book belonging to Barbara Bach's daughter, Francesca.[26] The German version of the album included the bonus track "Mr. Double-It-Up", while the Japanese edition contained "Mr. Double-It-Up" and "Everyday".[27] Within the album's week of release, Starr held an online chat with fans.[16] Attendees at the Beatlefest convention who had pre-ordered the album were given a 7" single of "La De Da", which included a non-album track as the B-side.[16]

Those who pre-ordered the album with Best Buy were given a three-track bonus CD of material not included on the album.[16] Starr also arranged for a digipak edition—limited to 100,000 copies—to be released.[16] A tour followed the release of the album, although Starr said the tour wasn't only to promote the album: "I don't really ever want to do the two hours where it's just me. I like the mixture of the All-Stars because it's so much fun."[16] On 5 April 1999, Hudson and Gordon made a single edit version of "La De Da", which Starr approved on 9 June.[28] Nearly a month later, on 4 July, the single edit airs for the first time on British airwaves, thanks to The Chart Show.[29]

Track listing[edit]

All songs by Richard Starkey/Mark Hudson/Dean Grakal/Steve Dudas, except where noted.

  1. "One" – 3:02
  2. "What in the... World" – 3:29
  3. "Mindfield" – 4:06
  4. "King of Broken Hearts" – 4:44
  5. "Love Me Do" (Lennon–McCartney) – 3:45
  6. "Vertical Man" – 4:42
  7. "Drift Away" (Mentor Williams) – 4:09
  8. "I Was Walkin'" (Starkey/Hudson/Grakal) – 3:19
  9. "La De Da" – 5:41
  10. "Without Understanding" (Starkey/Hudson/Dudas) – 4:22
  11. "I'll Be Fine Anywhere" – 3:39
  12. "Puppet" – 3:19
  13. "I'm Yours" (Starkey/Hudson/Mark Nevin) – 3:24
Japanese edition bonus tracks
  1. "Mr. Double-It-Up" – 4:00
  2. "Everyday" – 4:09
    • B-side to "La De Da" single
German edition bonus tracks
  1. "Mr. Double-It-Up" – 4:00
Pre-order bonus CD
  1. "Mr. Double-It-Up" – 4:01
  2. "Sometimes" – 2:43
  3. "Good News" – 3:11


Personnel per booklet.[30]


  1. ^ US Guardian A2-23702[5]
  2. ^ US Mercury 314,558,400-2[19]
  3. ^ US Mercury MELP 195[21]
  1. ^ a b c d Newman, Melinda (16 May 1998). "Star Appearances Grace Ringo's Set". Billboard 110 (20): 12. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Harry, Bill (2004). The Ringo Starr Encyclopedia. London: Virgin Books. p. 157. ISBN 9780753508435. 
  3. ^ a b c Harry, Bill (2004). The Ringo Starr Encyclopedia. London: Virgin Books. p. 216. ISBN 9780753508435. 
  4. ^ Newman, Melinda (16 May 1998). "Star Appearances Grace Ringo's Set". Billboard 110 (20): 12, 19. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as Miles, Barry; Badman, Keith, ed. (2001). The Beatles Diary After the Break-Up: 1970–2001 (reprint ed.). London: Music Sales Group. ISBN 9780711983076. 
  6. ^ Harry, Bill (2004). The Ringo Starr Encyclopedia. London: Virgin Books. pp. 196–197. ISBN 9780753508435. 
  7. ^ Harry, Bill (2004). The Ringo Starr Encyclopedia. London: Virgin Books. pp. 216–217. ISBN 9780753508435. 
  8. ^ Harry, Bill (2004). The Ringo Starr Encyclopedia. London: Virgin Books. p. 217. ISBN 9780753508435. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f Harry, Bill (2004). The Ringo Starr Encyclopedia. London: Virgin Books. p. 155. ISBN 9780753508435. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Harry, Bill (2004). The Ringo Starr Encyclopedia. London: Virgin Books. p. 156. ISBN 9780753508435. 
  11. ^ a b Harry, Bill (2004). The Ringo Starr Encyclopedia. London: Virgin Books. p. 231. ISBN 9780753508435. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Harry, Bill (2004). The Ringo Starr Encyclopedia. London: Virgin Books. p. 158. ISBN 9780753508435. 
  13. ^ Thomas, Stephen. "Vertical Man – Ringo Starr : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 25 June 2013. 
  14. ^ "Resenhas de Cds, Discos e Música em Geral!!! – Resenha de CD". Galeria Musical. 
  15. ^ Gary Graff & Daniel Durcholz (eds), MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, Visible Ink Press (Farmington Hills, MI, 1999; ISBN 1-57859-061-2), p. 1083.
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h Newman, Melinda (16 May 1998). "Star Appearances Grace Ringo's Set". Billboard 110 (20): 19. 
  17. ^ a b c d Harry, Bill (2004). The Ringo Starr Encyclopedia. London: Virgin Books. p. 159. ISBN 9780753508435. 
  18. ^ "allmusic ((( Flaming Pie > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))". Retrieved 25 June 2013. 
  19. ^ Harry, Bill (2004). The Ringo Starr Encyclopedia. London: Virgin Books. p. 186. ISBN 9780753508435. 
  20. ^ a b Harry, Bill (2004). The Ringo Starr Encyclopedia. London: Virgin Books. p. 160. ISBN 9780753508435. 
  21. ^ Harry, Bill (2004). The Ringo Starr Encyclopedia. London: Virgin Books. p. 184. ISBN 9780753508435. 
  22. ^ 4 Songs From (Back cover). Ringo Starr. Mercury. 1998. RINGO 1. 
  23. ^ Harry, Bill (2004). The Ringo Starr Encyclopedia. London: Virgin Books. p. 357. ISBN 9780753508435. 
  24. ^ "Chart Log UK: DJ S – The System Of Life". Retrieved 6 May 2013. 
  25. ^ Harry, Bill (2004). The Ringo Starr Encyclopedia. London: Virgin Books. p. 162. ISBN 9780753508435. 
  26. ^ Harry, Bill (2004). The Ringo Starr Encyclopedia. London: Virgin Books. p. 356. ISBN 9780753508435. 
  27. ^ Harry, Bill (2004). The Ringo Starr Encyclopedia. London: Virgin Books. p. 252. ISBN 9780753508435. 
  28. ^ Harry, Bill (2004). The Ringo Starr Encyclopedia. London: Virgin Books. p. 165. ISBN 9780753508435. 
  29. ^ Harry, Bill (2004). The Ringo Starr Encyclopedia. London: Virgin Books. p. 166. ISBN 9780753508435. 
  30. ^ Vertical Man (Booklet). Ringo Starr. Mercury, Universal Music Group. 1998. 314 558 598-2.