Muddy Waters/The Rolling Stones – Checkerboard Lounge: Live Chicago 1981 – Eagle Rock Entertainment EV305529 (CD + DVD), CD: 75:29, DVD: 95:58 [7/10/2012] *****:
(Featuring Muddy Waters – guitar, vocals; John Primer – guitar; Rick Kreher – guitar; Lovie Lee – piano; Earnest Johnson – bass; Ray Allison – drums; George “Mojo” Buford – harmonica; Buddy Guy – guitar, vocals; Junior Wells – harmonica, vocals; Mick Jagger – vocals; Keith Richards – guitar, Ron Wood – guitar; Ian Stewart – piano; Lefty Dizz – guitar, vocals; Nick Charles – bass)
During their 1981 American tour, The Rolling Stones found themselves with a night off in Chicago. Naturally they went to Buddy Guy’s Checkerboard Lounge to check out their hero, Muddy Waters. After all, their band name was taken from one of his songs. The rockers jammed with the master bluesman, and now there is a document of this historic event. Eagle Rock Entertainment has released a DVD and CD package that will delight both blues and rock fans. With typical Waters showmanship, his band does a couple of numbers (“Sweet Little Angel”, “Flip Flop And Fly”) first. This is an experienced group and Lovie Lee puts everything into his vocals. “Mojo” Buford adds some nasty harmonica licks, too. Finally, a royal introduction ensues, and the aging Waters joins the band for a couple of numbers. Even in his mid-sixties, his instrumental and vocal command is impressive.
Then he summons his “disciples” onto the stage. First up is Mick Jagger (in what looks like a red track suit) who provides some vocals on “Baby Please Don’t Go”. There couldn’t be a more “odd couple” than the slithering rocker and the cool blues man. When Keith Richards is called on stage, he walks across the table top, hugs a waitress and blends in immediately with the band. He is a star in this documentary, with dangling cigarette, booze guzzling and reckless charm. The Stones are respectful of the blues scene and do nothing to upstage Muddy. Other highlights include a spirited rendition of “Mannish Boy” where Jagger and Waters share vocals. At first tentative, The Stones’ front man loosens up on “Hoochie Coochie Man”. Things get even better when Buddy Guy arrives and we get a trio of lead singers. Guy provides his customary electrifying performance. Ron Wood (Richards’ cigarette dangling twin guitarist) and Ian Stewart (piano) unite in this jam. Despite the chaos on the stage, the vibe is fun. Another legend, Junior Wells offers a rollicking cover of “Got My Mojo Working” with inimitable style. There is an amazing collaboration with Guy on “Next Time You See Me”. Along with Richards and Wood, this is the most explosive instrumental performance. Drummer Charlie Watts, noticeably absent from the Checkerboard set, appears on the “bonus” track, “Black Limousine.”
The audio quality on the DVD (with Dolby Digital 5.1 DTS Surround Sound, Dolby Digital Stereo) is exceptional. There is a high level of clarity and an excellent, balanced mix (considering the venue). Bob Clearmountain deserves a lot of credit for re-mastering the tapes to modern standards. This is not a perfect venture. An apparently inebriated Lefty Dizz is almost thrown off the stage. But this does not detract from the historical significance. The audio CD is equally superlative, and underscores the connection between rock and blues. Artists like The Stones owe a debt to the blues culture. It is refreshing to see the payback.
DVD:Sweet Little Angel; Flip Flop And Fly; Introduction (Instrumental); You Don’t Have To Go; Country Boy; Baby Please Don’t Go; Hoochie Coochie Man; Long Distance Call; Mannish Boy; Got My Mojo Working; Next Time You See Me; One Eyed Woman; baby Please Don’t Go (Instrumental); Clouds In My Heart; Champagne And Reefer; Instrumental 1 (Credits); Bonus Footage: You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone; Black Limousine (from Hampton Coliseum)
CD: Introduction; You Don’t have To Go; Baby Please Don’t Go; Hoochie Coochie Man; Long Distance Call; Mannish Boy; Got My Mojo Working; Next Time You See Me; One Eyed Woman; Clouds In My Heart; Champagne And Reefer
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