cracking her whip, the sepia-toned back cover pic has her reclining on an old beer barrel with sequined curtains behind her, à la
, and the inner sleeve again pictured her posing topless. "Sweet Revenge is of course the album I'm most proud of. I put so much of myself into it. I wrote the lyrics, created the double cover, chose the pictures. I tried to tell a story. So, at least for me, it is the best one."
Her debut album I Am a Photograph
, released in December 1976, was recorded in Munich
, with most songs composed by Monn and arrangers Rainer Pietsch and Charly Ricanek and Lear writing all the English lyrics. The musical backing was provided by the same international session musicians
as on contemporaneous recordings by best-selling Germany-based disco acts like Boney M
. and Silver Convention
, among them drummers
Martin Harrison and Curt Cress, bassists
Gary Unwin, Dave King and Les Hurdle and guitarists
Geoff Bastow and Mats Björklund.
The title track "I Am a Photograph" was a reference to her days with the Zoli Modelling Agency, but Lear's selfpenned, witty, provocative and sometimes even slightly disturbing lyrics signalled that there was more to this former glam model than meets the eye. In Allmusic
's biography on Lear reviewer Michael Freedberg writes: "I Am a Photograph is the first of six sleazy, hard-to-find albums in which she flaunts a voice so heavy with low notes it makes one wonder if she really isn't a man after all. But Lear's slow notes are simply an exaggeration of the whiskey-voiced sultriness created by Marlene Dietrich. That isn't to say, however, that Lear's lyrics — or the music's inverted proportions — don't exploit her mythology as a kinky concoction to the bursting point".
The album included Lear's first European hit "Blood and Honey
", lyrically paraphrasing Dalí's 1941 painting La Miel Es Más Dulce Que La Sangre (Honey Is Sweeter Than Blood
), follow-up single "Tomorrow
" and a cover of Nancy Sinatra
's "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'
" and Leroy Anderson
's "Blue Tango
", all of which became repertoire standards. I Am a Photograph's mixture of lush disco, schlager
, topped with Lear's deep half-spoken, half-sung vocals and her characteristic Franglais
accent was a winning combination; the album spun off four Top 10 singles in Italy and stayed on the West German albums chart for thirty-three weeks alone.
The second edition of "I Am a Photograph",
which also contained German #2 hit "Queen of Chinatown
", sported a free pin-up
poster picturing a topless
Lear smiling towards the camera, a photo originally featured in her Playboy spread.
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