If you wait long enough, pretty much everything eventually gets a legitimate release. Over 30 years after Muddy, Mick and Keith jammed in a tiny club on the South side of Chicago; the DVD finally turns up of this legendary musical meeting.
On November 22, 1981, The Stones were in Chicago as part of their 1981 American Tour (I saw them 5 days later in Syracuse, NY). With a day off, Mick, Keith, Ronnie Wood and pianist Ian Stewart took the opportunity to catch blues great Muddy Waters and the Checkerboard Lounge, a small club owned by another blues great, Buddy Guy.
Multiple video cameras were dispatched to capture the event and, after years of bootlegging, an official version is finally available. Was it worth the wait? Oh yea!
The show begins with a couple of warm-up numbers from Muddy’s band, with piano player Lovie Lee providing the vocals. One can’t help but notice the large, empty table in front of the stage, waiting to be filled by The Stones and their friends.
Mr. Waters then comes on, takes a seat and proceeds to sing You Don’t Have To Go and Country Boy. His stinging slide guitar solo on Country Boy is awesome and makes it clear that even if Mick and the boys pull a no-show; this is going to be a night to remember.
No need to worry, though. During Baby Please Don’t Go, we see the band and entourage pile out of a van and files into the tiny club, taking their seats front and center. Jagger barely has time to order a beer, let alone drink it before Muddy calls him on stage. Dressed in what appears to be a red track suit, Mick trades verses with the blues great.
After the tune is over, Waters says, “What about Keith?” Mick repeats the question, with a gleam in his eyes and Keith straps on his guitar, cigarette dangling from his mouth and joins the fun.
Before long Ronnie Wood is alongside Richards. Jagger hams it up during Hootchie Coochie Man and Waters watches the younger performer with a mixture of admiration and bemusement. Its clear Mick loves the limelight and his strutting and preening seems slightly out of place here, but ultimately he redeems himself by simply having a good time and leaving the stage before he wears out his welcome.
Keith and Woody are there for the duration. Waters leaves and is replaced by Buddy Guy, Junior Wells and Lefty Dizz, a lesser-known guitarist who has obviously had a few too many on the night. Eventually Ian Stewart takes his place behind the piano.
The vibe is friendly and loose as the various musicians trade licks on a variety of old blues tunes. Muddy and Mick return to close the show with a raucous version of Champagne And Reefer…a good time was clearly had by all.
Bonus features include one more warm-up tune by Muddy’s band and The Rolling Stones in full force performing Black Limousine on their ’81 tour.
The video and audio quality is very good, especially considering the vintage of the material. Bob Clearmountain was brought in to remix the audio and it sounds excellent. The video has been kept in its original 4:3 aspect ratio, which is a good thing.
It’s clear The Stones were determined to have a good night out on the town. It’s also clear that they wanted to preserve the moment on videotape. Thanks to all for finally sharing it with the rest of us.