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Muddy Waters + the Rolling Stones, ‘Checkerboard Lounge – Live Chicago 1981′ – DVD Review

Muddy Waters Rolling Stones Checkerboard Lounge 1981
Eagle Rock

The Rolling Stones pay homage to their blues roots alongside one of their heroes on the newly unearthed live DVD ‘Muddy Waters and the Rolling Stones: Live at the Checkerboard Lounge Chicago 1981.’

The title tells you what you need to know. On an off-night on their 1981 tour, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ron Wood and pianist Ian Stewart stopped by Chicago’s Checkerboard Lounge to watch blues legend Muddy Waters perform.

Before too long, Jagger was called up to join in on ‘Baby Please Don’t Go,’ and eventually all four Stones had crowded onto the tiny stage to add their reverent but loose style to traditional classics such as ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’ and ‘Mannish Boy.’

Luckily, someone thought to film all of this, and seeing Jagger, Richards and company so gleeful around their mentor and in such an intimate setting is quite a treat. A slight warning: this concert is best enjoyed by those who love the blues whether or not the Rolling Stones are performing them. This is a Muddy Waters show with the Stones frequently but not always joining along. Jagger doesn’t come on until the sixth song of the 15-track set, for example, and at one point briefly returns to his table to watch his bandmates work their magic without him.

Throughout the night, the spotlight is shared equally with the Stones, Waters and — later in the proceedings — fellow honored guests Buddy Guy and Junior Wells. The Stones are revealed to be well-studied in the blues traditions, of course, but you can also see how they can’t seem to help but put their own stamp on things, pushing the night into less retrained, rougher and more dynamic territory.

If you love the genre, ‘Live at the Checkerboard Lounge’ is likely the most concentrated dose of Rolling Stones blues music you’re ever going to see and hear. There’s even a bonus track — ‘Black Limousine’ — from a “proper” stop on the Stones’ ’81 tour, showing how the full band took the sound born in tiny clubs onto the worlds biggest stages.

Next: Top 100 Rolling Stones Songs

Watch the Rolling Stones and Muddy Waters Perform ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’

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