Ringo Starr, "Y Not"
Ringo Starr has always done best with a little help from his friends, be it with the Beatles in the '60s or the company of high-profile contributions to his solo albums. The big guns are firing again on his newest release, "Y Not," and to good effect. Joe Walsh, Dave Stewart, Richard Marx, Van Dyke Parks and Joss Stone (who duets on the gritty album-closer "Who's Your Daddy") help Starr write some of his best and most poignant songs in years. Such All-Starr Band alumni as Walsh, Gary Wright, Edgar Winter and Billy Squier join Ben Harper, Benmont Tench and Don Was in bringing their chops to the party. And the marquee guest-fellow Fab Paul McCartney-delivers, too, laying a loping bassline into the song "Peace Dream" (which name-checks John Lennon) and a haunting echo vocal into the string-laden "Walk With You." The ever-optimistic Starr tells us he's "tired of being negative" at the album's outset. It's certainly hard to be anything but positive in this kind of company.-Gary Graff