Stop and Smell the Roses

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Stop and Smell the Roses
Studio album by
Released27 October 1981 (US)
20 November 1981 (UK)
Recorded11 July 1980 – 12 February 1981
LabelBoardwalk (US)
Ringo Starr chronology
Bad Boy
Stop and Smell the Roses
Old Wave
Singles from Stop and Smell the Roses
  1. "Wrack My Brain"
    Released: 27 October 1981 (US); 13 November 1981 (UK)
  2. "Private Property"
    Released: 13 January 1982

Stop and Smell the Roses is the eighth studio album by English rock musician Ringo Starr. Released in October 1981, it followed the twin commercial failures of Ringo the 4th (1977) and Bad Boy (1978). The album includes the hit single "Wrack My Brain", written and produced by George Harrison, but otherwise failed to find commercial success. It also includes contributions from Paul McCartney, Harry Nilsson, Ronnie Wood and Stephen Stills.

The album began life in mid 1980 as Can't Fight Lightning, while Starr was signed to Portrait Records. After the label withdrew its support, the project lay dormant until he signed with the RCA subsidiary Boardwalk Records in 1981. John Lennon had been due to participate in the recording, having offered Starr the songs "Life Begins at 40" and "Nobody Told Me", but he was murdered in New York a month before the sessions were to have taken place. Stop and Smell the Roses was reissued in 1994 with six bonus tracks.

Background and recording[edit]

While visiting John Lennon at his Dakota apartment, Starr was given a demo of "Life Begins at 40" by Lennon.[1] Lennon wrote the song specifically for Starr, and wanted him to record it for his next album.[1] Soon after meeting soon-to-be second wife Barbara Bach on the film set of Caveman in early 1980,[2] Ringo Starr met fellow former-Beatle Paul McCartney, and his wife, Linda, at a hotel while they had earlier visited the 33rd annual Cannes Film Festival, on 16 May.[1] Starr asked McCartney whether he would like to play on and possibly produce Starr's next album, to which McCartney agreed.[1] Starr started sessions in France for a new album,[2] at this point titled Can't Fight Lightning, on 11 July, at Super Bear Studios, lasting until 21 July.[1] With Wings then in limbo and McCartney II just released,[1] McCartney booked time with Starr to record three songs: "Private Property" and "Attention" (both McCartney originals) plus a cover of "Sure to Fall".[1] They also recorded the song "You Can't Fight Lightning", which Starr wrote after he and Bach were nearly struck by lightning.[1] Following on from a brief holiday, Starr and Bach flew to Los Angeles on 27 July.[2] Recording moved to Devonshire Sound Studio in Hollywood on 11 August.[1][2]

Next Stephen Stills got involved, writing "You've Got a Nice Way" for Starr and producing its recording that August. On 4 September the recording session moved again, this time to Cherokee Studios.[2] Ronnie Wood of The Rolling Stones was keen to help out and brought with him the song "Dead Giveaway" on 23 September,[2] which they co-produced. Two days later on the 25th, the pair taped the track "Brandy".[3] Starr recorded alone on 27 September.[3] On 6 November Starr and Wood demoed the song "I Don't Believe You".[3] Long-time friend Harry Nilsson was next on Starr's checklist, presenting him with "Drumming Is My Madness" as well as the album's title track, both of which were recorded in early November, with early December sessions completing the work of the cork.[clarification needed] Before returning home to England, Starr planned for another session to be held at the studio on 14 January.[1] After working with McCartney, Starr also felt it appropriate to extend the invitation to his two other band mates in The Beatles; Upon his return to his Tittenhurst Park residence on 10 November, Starr phoned George Harrison, inviting him to appear on the album.[3] When Starr arrived at Harrison's Friar Park estate[4] on 19 November,[3] Harrison presented him with "Wrack My Brain",[4] which he had composed for Starr.

"You Belong to Me", another cover from the past, was recorded, with Harrison producing. Starr also recorded a version of "All Those Years Ago", but Starr told Harrison the vocal was too high for his range and he didn't like the words.[4] Lennon was the last of the former-Beatles that Starr had yet to visit and – fresh from his musical re-awakening, having just released Double Fantasy – Lennon was eager to meet with Starr.[1] On 26 November, in New York City, Lennon handed Starr the demos for "Nobody Told Me".[5] With Lennon producing, they set a date, the one Starr had originally booked,[1] for 14 January 1981 to record the song.[5] Starr and Bach flew from New York to Los Angeles, on 28 November.[1] Back in Hollywood two days later, Starr, Nilsson and engineer Paul Travis listened to playbacks of the July sessions[1] at Compass Point Studios.[3] On 1 December, Starr laid down vocals for "You Can't Fight Lightning".[3] For the next two days, Starr and Jarvis mixed the album.[3] On 4 December, Starr added vocals to a re-make of "Back Off Boogaloo".[3] The next day Starr flew to the Bahamas to be with Bach.[3] On 8 December, Lennon was shot and killed. After a period of mourning, Starr returned to the studio on 14 January 1981.[3] Harrison took the "All Those Years Ago" track, changed some of the lyrics and, with overdubs by Paul and Linda McCartney, it was released as a tribute to Lennon.[4]

Starr, with Wood recorded for 3 days from the 14th, at Cherokee Studios, with further final batch of sessions taking place from 20 January[3] until 12 February.[1] During this time, the tracks "Dead Giveaway", "Wake Up", "Brandy", "You Belong to Me" and "Wrack My Brain" were finished.[1] On 13 February, final mixes of the tracks were made at Compass Point Studios and ten tracks were chosen for release on the album.[3]

Release and aftermath[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic3/5 stars[6]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music2/5 stars[7]
The Essential Rock Discography5/10[8]
Rolling Stone3/5 stars[10]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide2/5 stars[11]

In April 1981, Starr left record label Portrait due to a disagreement with its distributor, CBS,[1] who was due to release the Can't Fight Lightning version of the album.[12] Starr would eventually sign to RCA Records (and a subsidiary called Boardwalk in the US),[1] for a multi-album deal.[13] At the Egham Aerodrome in Surrey, on 16 and 17 September, Starr filmed promo videos for the tracks "Wrack My Brain" and "Stop and Take the Time to Smell the Roses", both of which were directed by Keef & Co.[14] On 18 September interior filming in London took place for "Wrack My Brain".[14] The next day the promo for was edited for airing on TV.[14] Over a month later, from 26 October until 12 December, Starr gave several interviews to help promote the album.[15] Two days later, he appeared in a radio interview for WBEN, again, to promote the album.[14] Harrison's "Wrack My Brain", backed with "Drumming Is My Madness", was the first single, released on 27 October, the same day as the album in the US[14] by Boardwalk.[nb 1][16] In the UK, the single was released on 13 November[14] by RCA.[nb 2][16] While it missed the UK charts, it managed to give Starr his final US Top 40 hit, reaching number 38. In South Africa, "Wrack My Brain" reached number 17.[18] It also charted in Switzerland (#32) and did well in Belgium (#10).

With a re-sequenced running order and design change, the album was rechristened Stop and Smell the Roses, after Nilsson's donated song. The album was released in the UK on 20 November.[nb 3][20] Another radio interview to promote the album was held on 2 December, by Capitol Radio in Los Angeles.[20] Stop and Smell the Roses reached no further than number 98 in the US.[21] On 31 December, the HMV store in London announced that despite the busy Christmas period, only 30 copies of the album had been sold with the store.[1] On 13 January 1982, McCartney's "Private Property" was released as the second single, backed with "Stop and Take the Time to Smell the Roses", in the US,[20] but failed to chart anywhere.[nb 4][22] Nonplussed, RCA dropped Starr in 1982. For the first time in his career, Starr was out of a recording contract with neither a UK nor US label willing to sign him. On 12 December 1982, the "Wrack My Brain" promo aired on Parkinson.[23] Stop and Smell the Roses was reissued on CD, on the same day as Old Wave, in the US by The Right Stuff on 22 August 1994[24] with bonus tracks.[nb 5][12] "Wrack My Brain" was re-released, this time on red vinyl, with "Private Property" as the B-side, on The Right Stuff on 1 November. A promotional CD was released in 1994 by Capitol, featuring three songs from both Old Wave (1983) and Stop and Smell the Roses.[nb 6][25]

Starr released a re-recording of the bonus track "You Can't Fight Lightning" as a bonus track on his 2017 album Give More Love.

On March 4 2021, the album was added to streaming services for the first time since its release.

Track listing[edit]

Side one
1."Private Property"Paul McCartneyMcCartney2:44
2."Wrack My Brain"George HarrisonHarrison2:21
3."Drumming is My Madness"Harry NilssonNilsson3:29
4."Attention"Paul McCartneyMcCartney3:20
5."Stop and Take the Time to Smell the Roses"Richard Starkey, NilssonNilsson3:08
Side two
1."Dead Giveaway"Starkey, Ronnie WoodRingo Starr, Wood4:28
2."You Belong to Me"Pee Wee King, Redd Stewart, Chilton PriceHarrison2:09
3."Sure to Fall"Carl Perkins, Quinton Claunch, William CantrellMcCartney3:42
4."You've Got a Nice Way"Stephen Stills, Michael StergisStills3:33
5."Back Off Boogaloo"StarkeyNilsson3:16
CD Bonus tracks
11."Wake Up"StarkeyStills3:45
12."Red and Black Blues"Lane TietgenStills3:20
13."Brandy"Joseph B. Jefferson, Charles B. SimmonsStarr, Wood4:08
14."Stop and Take the Time to Smell the Roses" (Original vocal version)Starkey, NilssonNilsson3:09
15."You Can't Fight Lightning"StarkeyMcCartney5:41
16."Hand Gun Promos"  2:02
Can't Fight Lightning tracklist
2."Private Property"2:48
3."You've Got a Nice Way"3:33
4."Wake Up"3:45
5."You Can't Fight Lightning"5:41
6."Wrack My Brain"2:21
7."Dead Giveaway"5:23
9."You Belong to Me"2:09
10."Stop and Take the Time to Smell the Roses"2:49




  1. ^ Single: US Boardwalk NB7-11-130;[16] Album: US Boardwalk NB1 33246[17]
  2. ^ UK RCA 166[16]
  3. ^ UK RCA LP 6022[19]
  4. ^ US Boardwalk NB7-11-134[22]
  5. ^ US The Right Stuff T2-29676[17]
  6. ^ The Stop and Smell the Roses tracks were: "Wrack My Brain", "Dead Giveaway" and "Private Property".[25]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Miles, Barry; Badman, Keith, eds. (2001). The Beatles Diary After the Break-Up: 1970–2001 (reprint ed.). London: Music Sales Group. ISBN 978-0-7119-8307-6.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Harry, Bill (2004). The Ringo Starr Encyclopedia. London: Virgin Books. p. 125. ISBN 978-0-7535-0843-5.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Harry, Bill (2004). The Ringo Starr Encyclopedia. London: Virgin Books. p. 126. ISBN 978-0-7535-0843-5.
  4. ^ a b c d Rodriguez, Robert (2010). Fab Four FAQ 2.0: The Beatles' Solo Years, 1970–1980 (illustrated ed.). New York: Backbeat Books. p. 39. ISBN 978-0-87930-968-8.
  5. ^ a b Rodriguez, Robert (2010). Fab Four FAQ 2.0: The Beatles' Solo Years, 1970–1980 (illustrated ed.). New York: Backbeat Books. p. 38. ISBN 978-0-87930-968-8.
  6. ^ Stop and Smell the Roses at AllMusic
  7. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th edn). London: Omnibus Press. p. 1984. ISBN 978-0-85712-595-8.
  8. ^ Strong, Martin C. (2006). The Essential Rock Discography. Edinburgh, UK: Canongate. p. 1028. ISBN 978-184195-827-9.
  9. ^ Gary Graff & Daniel Durchholz (eds), MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, Visible Ink Press (Farmington Hills, MI, 1999; ISBN 1-57859-061-2), p. 1083.
  10. ^ Archived 2 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Brackett, Nathan, with Hoard, Christian (eds) (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th edn). New York, NY: Fireside. p. 777. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  12. ^ a b Harry, Bill (2004). The Ringo Starr Encyclopedia. London: Virgin Books. p. 327. ISBN 978-0-7535-0843-5.
  13. ^ Harry, Bill (2004). The Ringo Starr Encyclopedia. London: Virgin Books. p. 89. ISBN 978-0-7535-0843-5.
  14. ^ a b c d e f Harry, Bill (2004). The Ringo Starr Encyclopedia. London: Virgin Books. p. 127. ISBN 978-0-7535-0843-5.
  15. ^ Harry, Bill (2004). The Ringo Starr Encyclopedia. London: Virgin Books. pp. 127–128. ISBN 978-0-7535-0843-5.
  16. ^ a b c d Harry, Bill (2004). The Ringo Starr Encyclopedia. London: Virgin Books. p. 183. ISBN 978-0-7535-0843-5.
  17. ^ a b Harry, Bill (2004). The Ringo Starr Encyclopedia. London: Virgin Books. p. 185. ISBN 978-0-7535-0843-5.
  18. ^ "SA Charts 1965 – March 1989". Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  19. ^ Harry, Bill (2004). The Ringo Starr Encyclopedia. London: Virgin Books. p. 184. ISBN 978-0-7535-0843-5.
  20. ^ a b c Harry, Bill (2004). The Ringo Starr Encyclopedia. London: Virgin Books. p. 128. ISBN 978-0-7535-0843-5.
  21. ^ Bronson, Fred (12 April 2003). "Chart Beat". Billboard. 115 (15): 72.
  22. ^ a b Harry, Bill (2004). The Ringo Starr Encyclopedia. London: Virgin Books. p. 272. ISBN 978-0-7535-0843-5.
  23. ^ Harry, Bill (2004). The Ringo Starr Encyclopedia. London: Virgin Books. p. 129. ISBN 978-0-7535-0843-5.
  24. ^ Harry, Bill (2004). The Ringo Starr Encyclopedia. London: Virgin Books. p. 147. ISBN 978-0-7535-0843-5.
  25. ^ a b Harry, Bill (2004). The Ringo Starr Encyclopedia. London: Virgin Books. p. 261. ISBN 978-0-7535-0843-5.

External links[edit]