Although both audio and video versions of this legendary, previously unreleased 1981 jam at Buddy Guy's Checkerboard Lounge in Chicago have circulated on bootlegs for years, never before has it been seen and heard quite like this.
Thanks to a fine digital video restoration from Eagle Rock and a pristine new audio mix from Bob Clearmountain, this historic meeting between the Rolling Stones and Muddy Waters can now finally be experienced the way it was meant to be.
As part of Eagle Rock's ongoing project of restoring vintage archival Stones concert footage, Live At The Checkerboard Lounge, Chicago 1981 still differs significantly from its two more recent predecessors — Ladies And Gentlemen, The Rolling Stones (from 1972), and Some Girls Live In Texas 1978.
For one thing, this is really not a Rolling Stones concert at all — drummer Charlie Watts in particular is noticeably M.I.A.
Rather, it is more of a supposedly impromptu and informal Chicago summit meeting between blues master Muddy Waters and his more famous British rock students from across the pond.
As the most commonly heard version of events is told, the Stones had a night off during a tour stop in Chicago, and decided to check out Muddy Waters at Buddy Guy's tiny blues joint (although some versions of this story suggest a more carefully orchestrated event). Either way, things ended up in a wild jam session before about 100 people that — fortunately for us — was all captured for posterity on film. Now, some three decades after the fact, it has finally been given the proper release it deserves.
The resulting musical fireworks, as captured on this excellent DVD/CD collection, veer wildly from the explosive to the embarrassingly sloppy — sometimes within a single song.
The most obvious case in point here would be "Next Time You See Me," which features a brief, but electrifying guitar shoot-out between Keith Richards and Buddy Guy. However, this is later followed by a similar exchange between Ron Wood and an obviously drunk Lefty Dizz that doesn't go nearly as well (Dizz is barely able to keep his guitar strapped on). By the time Muddy Waters makes it back to the stage for "Clouds In My Heart," he has to gently shove the drunken, showboating Dizz out of the way to make way for another Richards solo.