Sunday, June 23, 2013

Fact Sheet: Black And Blue

The Rolling Stones followed up their 1975 "Tour Of The Americas" with overdubbing and mixing sessions for the upcoming album "Black And Blue" at Mountain Recording Studios, Montreux (October, 1975), Musicland Studios, Munich (December, 1975) and Atlantic Studios, New York City (January-February, 1976). Additional musicians during the sessions were Billy Preston (organ, piano, string synthesizer, and vocals), Ollie Brown (percussion), and Ron Wood. The latter formally joined the band on December 19, 1975.

"Black And Blue", the Stones' 13th studio album, finally got released on April 20, 1976, one and a half year after its predecessor, "It's Only Rock 'n' Roll". Author James Hector puts the record in some fine perspective: "Released to the fanfare of an extensive European tour, "Black And Blue" found the Stones thrown into chaos by the departure of Mick Taylor (just as work on the record was about to begin). But the disturbed intra-band politics invested the sessions with a creative tension that would otherwise have been absent.

Several guitarists were tried out during the making of the album, climaxing with the re-appearance of Ron Wood, confirming that the likeliest candidate all along was the man for the job. Wood wasn't a bona fide member at any point during the sessions: indeed, both Harvey Mandel and Wayne Perkins made significant contributions to the album. Billy Preston, too, came into his own on "Black And Blue", lending weight to the criticism that the Stones were increasingly at the mercy of their sessions players".

With the dominance of a quality player like Billy Preston, not much room was left for neither Nicky Hopkins nor Ian Stewart. Nicky, who had his last ever recording session with the band in December, 1974, appeared on just two songs ('Fool To Cry' and 'Cherry Oh Baby'), while Stu got a percussion (!!) credit on 'Hot Stuff'.
Also on stage, during the Stones' European tour (April-June, 1976), Preston dominated the scene, leaving little room for Stewart. But, as always, Stu picked his own shows to play piano on selected numbers of his choice.

Adapted from the following source: James Hector, The Complete Guide To The Music Of The Rolling Stones, Omnibus Press, 1995.

Suggested further reading:
Steve Appleford, The Rolling Stones - The Stories Behind The Biggest Songs, Carlton Books Limited, 2010.
Bud Scoppa, Black And Blue, The Ultimate Music Guide (from the makers of Uncut)

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