The Rolling Stones
Black and Blue
Released April 23, 1976
By Madeline Bocaro
© Madeline Bocaro, 2020. No part of this site may be reproduced in whole or in part in any manner without permission of the copyright owner.
Two prominent colors are represented on the album artwork and in its title; black and blue. They represent the Stones’ love of Black music (R&B, Soul, Reggae and Funk) and also for the Blues, all genres which are featured on all of the album’s tracks.
For the ad campaign, Jagger and Richards had a double entendre in mind…
The advertisement for the album appeared in Rolling Stone magazine on July 1, 1976 – just in time for America’s bicentennial. Instead of adding some red and white to mark the occasion – they thought a battered and bruised woman would do the trick. The ad was photographed by Japanese-American surrealist fashion photographer Hiro (Yasuhiro Wakabayashi) who was mentored by Richard Avedon.
Mick and Keith were at the photo shoot, directing model Anita Russell who was tied and suspended by a rope. Anita wears face and body make-up to appear as though he had been beaten and bruised. Allegedly, Jagger artfully painted the “bruises” on Russell’s body. She sits atop the Stones album cover with her legs spread apart. This image was also featured on a gigantic billboard on Sunset Boulevard with the tag line, ‘I’m Black and Blue’ from the Rolling Stones – and I love it!” Perhaps they thought it was OK because she had a powerful ferocious look on her face, indicating that maybe she needed to be restrained. It’s only rock ‘n’ roll, right?
Feminist groups responded with fury, spraying the billboard with graffiti and prompting Atlantic Records to withdraw the billboard and the ads with apologies. Anita later posed for a National Lampoon mock-up photo of Jagger tied up, as she watches in amusement. (See below).
The album followed It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll –two years after guitarist Mick Taylor had quit the band. (Ron Wood became a member of the Stones in 1976). Keith played most of the guitar parts on the album.
My favorite tracks, ‘Fool To Cry’ and ‘Memory Motel’ are gorgeous blues ballads that make me cry. ‘Hey Negrita’ and ‘Cherry Oh Baby’ are funky reggae tunes. ‘Hot Stuff’ is some seriously groovy Jamaican funk.
The music is what Black and Blue is all about!
It is interesting that David Bowie – who was running on a strange parallel with the Stones – was also on an R&B trajectory at this time. It began on his Diamond Dogs album (1974) with the strange funk of the song ‘1984’ and its Barry White influence with (Isaac Hayes) ‘Shaft’-styled strings. Bowie then had a hit single with ‘Fame’ (co-written by John Lennon) in 1975 on his album Young Americans. His soul theme carried over on Station to Station with ‘Golden Years’, but it petered out when he got heavily into Krautrock.
My story all about Bowie’s song ‘Fame’
By Madeline Bocaro ©
National Lampoon Magazine spoof
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5 thoughts on “Am I Blue? ”
Very cool – I love Black N Blue and think it’s a very underrated LP – I think many Stones long players are underappreciated. Beggars, Sticky, Exile get some cred, Let It Bleed … but it’s remarkable how many Stones albums general consensus overlooks. Glad you singled out gorgeous ‘Memory Motel’ in particular. People I have mentioned this too don’t seem to hear it, but this great song is kin to Rocket From The Tombs ‘Amphetamine’ to me. Richard Lloyd inveigled his way into the Stones crowd via Anita (I think, don’t quote me, unreliable relator here), and I feel some overlap, like lapping waves warmed by the sun, between ‘Fool To Cry’ anf Television’s ‘Carried Away’. I worship the 60s Stones, Brian, but I think they were at the top of their powers in the 70s – there were no false steps, no complacency, full of confidence. I read a quote just today that seems apt (can’t remember where, though), to the effect of: ‘great things follow the storms of youth’. Pic of Mick n Keef is gold – never seen it before, where’d you find ’em? Well done with National Lampoon spoof as well. Spinal Tap territory, or wot …
PS always wonder what Keith was saying to Mick in the cover photo …
He’s probably saying, “Let’s put the other guys on the back cover!”