April 07, 2003 12:00 PM

Ringo Starr (Koch)

Ringo should probably have skipped the hard-rocking numbers on his 12th solo album; at 62, he isn’t likely to steal fans from the Foo Fighters. But his more characteristic easygoing numbers, which have the folksy affability of the Traveling Wilburys’ tunes, are nice little nostalgia nuggets packed with sly references to more than a dozen classic songs (“Yesterday,” “Here Comes the Sun”). The highlight is a sweet tribute to George Harrison, “Never Without You,” decorated by Eric Clapton, who contributes some guitar licks that cleverly mimic the style of his departed friend. Another fine track, “Write One for Me,” about a barroom Cyrano, brings in Willie Nelson for an inspired duet of quirky, craggy voices: at last, the missing link between Liverpool and Nashville.

BOTTOM LINE: Light and likable

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