Longtime rock drummer finds new home in reggae
Zak Starkey is one of the most famous sons in rock music. After all, his father is Sir Richard Starkey, otherwise known as Ringo Starr, the Beatles’ drummer. Like his father, Zak too built a career as a drummer: first playing with his dad’s All-Star band before jumping to The Who and later Oasis (and he still drums with The Who today). But Starkey now has gotten up from behind the kit and moved behind the boards: along with frequent songwriting partner Sharna “Sshh” Liguz, he’s founded the record label Trojan Jamaica, as well as produced and released an album titled Red Gold Green & Blue. The album is a surprising mash-up of several prominent reggae artists covering old-school blues songs in the reggae style. Starkey is part of the instrumentals, but not how you’d expect: instead of drumming, he’s playing guitar.
The album’s 13 tracks all do a good job of combining reggae and blues effectively, though all of them differ on where exactly on the spectrum they land. On the reggae side, “I Put A Spell On You” and “Bad Luck Shadow” stand out, while on the blues end tracks like “Bring It On Home” and the closer “Sun Is Shining” crank up the rootsy vibe. Sometimes Starkey’s rock pedigree takes over, as “Come on In My Kitchen” and the distorted sex jam “Wang Dang Doodle” crank up the guitar amps. The perfect stylistic balance, though, is achieved on “Baby Please Don’t Go,” where a funky reggae beat and a sharp vocal delivery match with a nasty guitar riff. The entire band, as well as all the vocalists; perform well, and on the aforementioned “Wang Dang Doodle” Liguz even gets to sing a verse.
There’s not much to criticize on Red Gold Green & Blue, as fans of any of the genres Starkey & Co. dabble in will find plenty to enjoy. If anything, the only drawback is that people who already wouldn’t listen to that kind of music probably won’t change their minds suddenly if they heard this album. But that’s not something anyone in the band, or on the label, need to worry about on the first record, and maybe they never should.