Muddy Waters and The Rolling Stones
" Checkerboard Lounge, Live Chicago 1981 DVD/CD "
Eagle Vision

Blueswax Rating 8

"Bob Putignano reviews a DVD/CD set of four Rolling Stones jamming with their blues heroes in Buddy Guy's Checkerboard Lounge in Chicago in 1981. Need we really say more to get you to read the review?" Chip Eagle for Blues Revue Magazine and Blueswax

Four Stones Jamming with Their Blues Heroes

I would have to assume that this previously unreleased performance has probably been available on Youtube and other boots, but thanks to Eagle Vision this performance shines through clearly, both the audio and the video shine on this thirty year old performance. Kudos to Bob Clearmountain's audio mix! This DVD runs for 106 minutes with eighteen tracks (that is if you count the two bonus footage tracks) and on the CD there are eleven tunes that include mostly the real good ones from the DVD. Though billed as "Rolling Stones release with Muddy Waters," drummer Charlie Watts and bassist Bill Wyman are nowhere to be found, but for all their talents they are not needed here, though all of the Stones (including Ernie Watts' sax) can be found on one of the bonus tracks on the DVD only. The story supposedly goes that the Stones had a night off and decided to check in with Muddy at Buddy Guy's Checkerboard Lounge. Whatever.

The night starts with Muddy's band performing "Sweet Little Angel" and "Flip Flop and Fly" with pianist Lovie Lee, vocals and excellent guitar licks by John Primer, and Rick Kreher. Mojo Bruford introduces Muddy who croons on "You Don't Have To Go" with another tasty solo from Primer's axe. A lengthy "Country Boy" features Muddy's slide that eventually explodes near the end of the tune. The tempo quickens with "Baby Please Don't Go." Bruford's harp is sharp, but is interrupted as Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood, and Ian Stewart enter the room to sit at a table to enjoy the show. Not long afterwards, Muddy calls out to Jagger (wearing a red jogging suit) who trades vocals with Waters, who calls for Keith and Ronnie to join in and this hearty party becomes mighty. Waters segues into "Hoochie Coochie Man" with more vocal trade-offs with Jagger. Ron Wood's slide introduces "Long Distance Call" that closes with a sermon-like reading of Muddy concluding with the classic line "There's another mule kicking in your stall." "Mannish Boy" starts slowly but is ignited when Jagger takes the microphone. Not to be outdone Waters jumps from his stool and does his own rebel rousing; it's here that both legends are smiling at each other's antics and are thoroughly have a ball.

Muddy calls out to Buddy Guy, who's wearing a white suit. First Buddy's guitar-less and just singing, but that doesn't last for long and Lefty Dizz chimes in looking pretty blitzed, but he sounds good. Waters takes a well-deserved break as Junior Wells tears into "Got My Mojo Workin'," where it's great to see Guy, Richards, and Wood stacked across the screen for a guitar heaven photo op. Guy's guitar intros "Next Time You See Me" that he also sings. Guy nicely trades leads with Richards, who falls into a scintillating groove. Buddy gets wild on guitar, as Ron Wood looks lost. The jam continues as Buddy exits and Junior Wells takes over the vocal chores and we finally get to see Ian Stewart on piano too, and Lefty Dizz explodes on guitar. Now it's Dizz' turn to lead the band with "One Eyed Woman." Dizz lets Wood take a solo and he's okay, but it's Dizz who solos white hot on this track. Instrumentally Dizz leads the band into another "Baby Please Don't Go," which is used as a setup to bring Muddy back on stage. Waters breaks things down and delivers "Clouds in My Heart" and closes the night with "Champagne and Reefer," calling Jagger back to the stage who both yuk is up and the party's over.

There's two bonus footage songs, a version of "You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone" with the Muddy Waters band (sans Waters) at the club and a live Stones "Black Limousine" recorded at the Hampton Coliseum in 1981. So finally we have all the Stones collected here.

Is this an amazing performance? Yes and no, as there are many fine moments contained and a few others that border on sloppy musicianship. But considering how many of these masters are no longer with us, it sure is nice to see many of them jamming and smiling here with four members of the Rolling Stones! Long story short, this DVD/CD set is certainly worth owning as it captures an intimate night with four UK rock stars who always loved the blues jamming with their blues heroes.

Bob Putignano a senior contributing editor at BluesWax. He is also the heart of Sounds of Blues at Bob maybe contacted at:

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