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Daily Record 1/25/11: Black and Blue-Rolling Stones (1976)

In 1970s, 1976, disco, reggae, Rich's House of Vinyl, rock, Rolling Stones on January 25, 2011 at 6:08 pm

Back in 1976, I neither knew nor cared who the Rolling Stones were.

It’s not that I didn’t like music. Elton John, Neil Sedaka and Barry Manilow all ranked high on my list, and what about those great hit singles like “Disco Duck” (Rick Dees and his Cast of Idiots) and “A Fifth of Beethoven” (Walter Murphy and the Big Apple Band)? Those songs were hot stuff.

Speaking of hot stuff, “Hot Stuff” was the leadoff track to the Rolling Stones’ Black and Blue album, which flew way under my apparently quite-limited pop radar when it was released in April 1976. The album was a transitional one for the Stones. Guitarist Mick Taylor was leaving the band, and Black and Blue has been seen as a bit of an audition for his replacement (Ron Wood got the job).

While Black and Blue generated a Top Ten pop hit in “Fool to Cry,” I don’t remember ever hearing that song until I picked up one of the cheesier Stones’ compilations in the mid-’80s (once I knew who the band was).

(Black and Blue also generated controversy with its “I’m Black and Blue from the Rolling Stones and I love it!” billboard campaign, which I read about The Book of Rock Lists or some other such book. For years, that ad campaign was really all I knew about the record.)

I’m trying to figure out how it was that, at 10/11 years old, I didn’t know about THE WORLD’S GREATEST ROCK’N’ROLL BAND and the only thing I can come up with is, I just wasn’t there yet. By “there” I mean the point at which the Stones meant anything at all to me.

Among the fifth graders at St. Joseph School I don’t think I was alone in my Stones ignorance. I don’t ever remember kids talking about the Stones the way the talked about the Bay City Rollers and KISS. And who knows, maybe even the wilder kids in our class might have been scared of the Stones, if they even knew about them. I mean, KISS was scary, but there was something so cartoonish about them that only a real dork would take them that seriously (though I was that dork for a little while, at least in terms of having an irrational dislike for KISS).

The Stones, on the other hand, were real people who were getting into a lot of real trouble (as Keith Richards notes in his recent memoir) in the ’70s.

It could have been a generational thing too. Maybe those of us who had older siblings knew about the Stones. But that was not me. And, while I found out later that Dad was a Stones’ fan, he kept this fact under his hat back in the ’70s. We never had any Stones albums around the house until I started bringing them home sometime in the ’80s.

Ironically, the first Rolling Stones song that made an impression on me was probably their disco-influenced classic “Miss You.” “Miss You” and the band’s other big disco stab, “Emotional Rescue” (I bought that single), were my gateway drug to “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” and beyond.

So, as for Black and Blue, today’s Daily Record: what is cool about listening to this album now, after years of absorbing the contents of Hot Rocks via classic rock radio for decades, is how refreshing it is to hear this band that has become oh-so-familiar to me playing songs that are not so ingrained in my mental playlist.

Black and Blue might not be the best Stones’ album, but there’s lots to like on it. “Hot Stuff” is a bit of a disco-reggae hybrid (moving toward the genius disco/rock fusion that was coming with “Miss You”); “Memory Motel” is a memorable ballad (which, according to Wikipedia, might be about Carly Simon! She probably thinks that song is about her.); “Melody” is jazzy/bluesy piano-based number and practically a Jagger/Billy Preston duet. (The liner note say that “Melody” was “inspired” by Preston, which apparently means that it’s essentially a remake of  Preston solo song).

Meanwhile, “Cherry Oh Baby,” is a straight-up reggae cover and “Hand of Fate,” is a Keef riff-fest.

So, yeah, Black and Blue. It’s not the Stones at their best, it didn’t rock the St. Joseph 5th grade class in 1976 and it’s not going to seriously change your world. But it may rock your commute, in its loose, casual way for 40 minutes or so. And there is nothing wrong with that.

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  1. Nice light piece on what is agreeably NOT The Stones at their best. Typo on the line about Carly Simon (“things” should be thinks). Proofreading is a bich(sic), but at least on a blog it’s not in print in 1,000’s of copies.

    • Timothy,
      Thanks for reading, and for the heads-up on the typo, which has been fixed.

      Today’s record is Keith’s Talk Is Cheap album. The entry will go up on that later this afternoon/evening.

      Rich

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