The Stones Slow It Right Down

The album Black and Blue isn’t one of The Rolling Stones better moments.
That doesn’t mean it’s bad. I mean we’re talking about the Stones here. It just doesn’t feel like an album – more a few songs thrown together.
Sure it’s funky in parts and it stretches out at times but in general it feels tired.
It feels like a warm-up album for Some Girls. Bit of a pre-season friendly about it, if you like.
In retrospect it is considered to be the album where they tried out some guitarists to replace the mighty Mick Taylor in the band. Harvey Mandel, Wayne Perkins and Ronnie Wood all played on the album.
Longtime regulars Billy Preston and Nicky Hopkins are on there but the end product isn’t The Stones greatest moment.
All that said the two ballads are absolute killers.
Memory Motel and Fool to Cry.
Memory Motel closes side one and at over seven minutes it is one of the rare occasions on record that they don’t keep it short(ish) and sweet.
Written by Jagger and Richard the two share vocals but it’s Jagger’s drawl that elevates the song to one of their classics.
That and the beautiful lyrics…

“Hannah honey was a peachy kind of girl
Her eyes were hazel
And her nose were slightly curved
We spent a lonely night at the Memory Motel
It’s on the ocean, I guess you know it well
It took a starry night to steal my breath away
Down on the waterfront
Her hair all drenched in spray”

Musically it is glorious. I always thought Keith played on it but the advent of the internet tells me it was actually Mandel that is on electric guitar. All I can say is Ronnie must have been good to get the gig!
Jagger is on piano with Richard on electric piano and it all works.
What a track. Still played live until this day. Just near on perfect…

The second ballad, of course, is the big hit from the album – Fool to Cry.
It is two minutes shorter than Memory Motel but shares much of its beauty. Jagger is now on the electric piano but it is his fantastic vocals that elevate the song to great heights.
It is sleazy and sultry and lyrically clever in the extreme. Daughter, lover and mates all telling Jagger that he is – indeed – a fool to cry.
Up there with the best they have ever done…
Just imagine if they’d left these two songs for Some Girls. It’s a truly great album as it stands but with these two beauties on there it may have been unassailable.


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