Sentimental Journey is the debut album by Ringo, released in 1970 as the band was breaking up. Ringo was the third member of the group to issue a solo recording (after George Harrison and John Lennon), and Sentimental Journey is notable for being the first studio album of what might be termed “conventional” music by a member of the band, compared to the experimental, soundtrack or live releases of his two bandmates. Paul McCartney’s debut, McCartney, would follow three weeks after Sentimental Journey’s release. Recording of the album was completed in early March 1970, with Sentimental Journey being rushed out a few weeks later to avoid clashing in the shops with the Beatles’ impending final album Let It Be in May.
Ringo decided to cover songs that were around three to four decades old; big band and jazz tracks that his parents loved. Starr engaged the services of Beatles producer George Martin to helm his solo debut, shortly after the Beatles’ Abbey Road (1969) came out.
“ I wondered, what shall I do with my life now that it’s over? I was brought up with all those songs, you know, my family used to sing those songs, my mother and my dad, my aunties and uncles. They were my first musical influences on me. So I went to see George Martin and said: ‘Let’s do an album of standards, and to make it interesting we’ll have all the arrangements done by different people”.
He appeared on Frost show in 1970 to promote the record and received an awkward reaction from the audience.
Ringo said: “It’s a lot of songs that were my initiation to music.“It’s all the tracks that, when my mother and my father came home from the pub out [of] their heads, they’d sing all these songs.”After an uncomfortable silence from the studio audience, the drummer said: “It went better in the dressing room.”
In an interview with BBC Radio’s Johnny Moran,George Harrison described Sentimental Journey as “a great album” and “really nice”. Conversely, John Lennon told Rolling Stone editor Jann Wenner in December 1970 that he was “embarrassed” by Starr’s debut. Starr later said of Sentimental Journey: “The great thing was that it got my solo career moving – not very fast, but just moving. It was like the first shovel of coal in the furnace that makes the train inch forward.”
Ringo’s solo debut sold 500,000 copies in the US in the first two weeks of release and reached No 7 in the UK without a single, and number 22 in the US.