Black And Blue

The Rolling Stones

Rolling Stones / Atlantic, 1976

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Ever look at the cover of Black And Blue and wonder why Mick Jagger and crew look like they’re at a funeral? Just listen to the album to hear how bored they sounded.


After the debacle that was It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll, one would have thought that the Rolling Stones would have taken some serious time to regroup and re-tool their songwriting. Well, one out of two isn’t bad – the group welcomed in new guitarist Ron Wood (who had contributed to their previous album), and relocated to Jamaica to record their next disc.


The end result, Black And Blue, sadly continues the downward slide into self-parody that the Stones had been on since my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Goats Head Soup. Relying too much on the local ambiance, the reggae style makes its way into a good amount of the music – if only it added something enjoyable to it. In the end, this disc is a throwaway – albeit a tiny step up from It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll, maybe because it features only eight songs.


Things could not have gotten off to a worse start than they do with “Hot Stuff,” a track that almost sounds like it was recorded during a stream-of-consciousness writing session. It’s half-baked, it’s half-heartedly performed – it’s totally rubbish. The failure right out of the gate leaves the Stones in a deep hole they must try to extricate themselves out of for the remainder of the disc.


Yeah, if only they had tried. Cuts like “Cherry Oh Baby,” “Hey Negrita” and “Melody” all continue in that off-the-cuff style that, frankly, does not work for Jagger and company. One has to assume that the two years between albums did absolutely nothing to re-charge the creative batteries of Jagger and Keith Richards, ‘cause this stuff is some of the most boring material the Stones ever put to vinyl.


Highlights? Well, if you can call them that, three tracks stand out as being not as painful to listen to. “Hand Of Fate” seems like it’s the kind of track that could have been something special had it been given a lot more attention and TLC than it was; as it is, it’s okay, but it sounds underdeveloped. Likewise on “Memory Hotel” and “Crazy Mama,” the latter being the only real song where it sounds like Jagger and company may be close to breaking out of the musical doldrums they had been in for three years. One wishes they had.


By this time, there was no denying it: the Stones were on the verge of becoming has-beens. Black And Blue is exhibit A in that trial, and it leaves the listener feeling like they’ve been on the wrong end of a one-sided prize fight. Fortunately for the Stones, a little bit of musical salve was just around the corner.

Rating: D

User Rating: C



© 2007 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Rolling Stones / Atlantic, and is used for informational purposes only.