June 29, 1998 12:00 PM

Ringo Starr (Mercury)

Album of the week

As a wee and sickly lad in Liverpool, Rich Starkey endeared himself to the neighbors by bravely singing what he has called a “party piece” or two at local gatherings. Later, after morphing into Ringo Starr and landing at the center of the biggest party of all, he continued the tradition, endearing himself to Beatles fans with off-key but winning renditions of a tune or two in concerts and on most of the albums his indulgent bandmates recorded. Here, on his first album in six years, Ringo wheels forth a pleasing batch of party pieces, from the light and breezy “La De Da” to the lovelorn ballads “King of Broken Hearts” and “One,” on which he sounds both hangdog and resilient: “Lately I find I’m feeling insecure/ Is it just me? I’m not really sure.” On “I’m Yours,” Ringo even croons, believe it or not. With help from some famous friends (George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Alanis Morissette), Ringo has a blast here, and everyone can sing along.

Bottom Line: Ringo drums up some good, cheerful fun

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