An amazing night for blues music occurred November 22, 1981. The Rolling Stones were on tour and playing in Chicago. They took their name from a Muddy Waters song and started out as a blues band, so when Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ron Wood and Ian Stewart got the chance to join Waters on stage, they were obviously overjoyed. Muddy Waters and the Rolling Stones: Live at the Checkerboard Lounge 1981 captures that incredible night for us all.
After singing on a few numbers, Jagger sat down, but Wood, Richards and Stewart remained on stage for the entire show. They got to play not only with Waters but with Buddy Guy (who owned the Checkerboard Lounge), Junior Wells and Lefty Dizz.
Waters, who was not in the best of health at this time, although he sounds great on the documentary, also sat down after several numbers and let Guy, Wells and Dizz do the middle of the set.
For blues fans, seeing these greats in their prime is as exciting as seeing the Stones. But seeing them with the Stones is even better! Jagger manages to do his Jagger moves even on the tiny, crowded stage, and it’s a joy to see him interact with the great Muddy Waters. They play off each other delightfully, as do Richards and Wood, with the fabulous blues musicians jamming on the stage.
Although the music has been remastered and for the most part the sound is excellent, there are moments, particularly when a drunk Dizz moves away from the microphone and the vocal disappears entirely. For me, this just added to the atmosphere. After all, it happens in live music all the time. I’m very glad they did not cut it.
Finally, Waters returned to the stage to close out the show with several great numbers, and Jagger joined him and the others to complete the set in great style.
The video quality is excellent. Watching musicians climb over chairs to get to the stage, seeing the great close-ups of the musicians as they play together and of the vocalists really gives the viewer the feeling of being there on that day.
The DVD is 106 minutes long, and includes bonus performances of two songs by the Rolling Stones later in the Chicago tour.
In addition to the DVD, the package includes an informative booklet with lots of photos and a CD of many of the numbers from the show.
There are great versions here of “Mannish Boy,” “Champagne and Reefer,” “Baby Please Don’t Go,” “Hoochie Coochie Man,” and so many others. It’s a truly wonderful musical experience to watch it now. Thank goodness it was captured on video.
The show has been legendary as a bootleg for years, and now this official version makes it widely available for all Stones and blues fans. You should not hesitate, but should jump online or run to your favorite store and buy this DVD/CD package immediately.