Muddy Waters & The Rolling Stones – [DVD]

Friday, 20 July 2012

Everyone knows that, when the man calls his children, they come running and line up to be counted. That is a constant, and Muddy Waters' performance at Buddy Guy's Checkerboard Lounge in 1981 proves it; The Rolling Stones were not scheduled to perform onstage that night (they had the night off between shows on their mammoth 1981 American tour) but, when Muddy Waters spotted them in the crowd watching him play, he called each of them up – Mick Jagger first, then Keith Richards (who was in such a rush to appear before Waters that he walked across table tops to get up there in a timely manner), then Ronnie Wood and finally the rest of the band – to join him on stage. This was in the middle of the singer's set so everyone was already good, warm and socially lubricated and the crowd was already feeling it, but what they ended up getting was a show which could never, ever happen twice; for a few short songs (but they were some of the most popular in Waters' songbook) the master of pop-Delta Blues and his premier students came together to rock a small, unsuspecting room and make memories not just for those in attendance, but for those players on stage too.

Throughout the performances of “Baby Please Don't Go,” “Hoochie Coochie Man,” “Long Distance Call” and “Mannish Boy,” The Rolling Stones find themselves cast in the roles of the excited fans to Muddy Waters' star, and those of us watching the DVD now get the unique opportunity to see what we, as fans, must look like whenever we find ourselves in the presence of a Rolling Stone. Here, even the normally stoic Keith Richards seems to glow (his facial expression reads “Can you believe what I'm getting to do?!” pretty plainly) as he picks out notes on a borrowed Telecaster. Then Mick seems a little starstruck when Waters stands up from his stool and trades a few dance steps with him too; it's just so cool to watch it all play out and the excited faces plastered on the members of the biggest band in the world.

After that four-song interlude, Keith and Wood hang around to jam but Mick, the other Stones and Waters all leave the stage to let Buddy Guy, Junior Wells and Lefty Dizz have a bit of fun through songs like “Got My Mojo Workin',” “Next Time You See Me,” “One Eyed Woman” and “Baby Please Don't Go” before Muddy Waters finally returns to the stage to finish out the nice with a loving ode to weed and bubbly (“Champagne And Reefer”) and an instrumental for good measure. Some would say that the show is just a mess with the number of people wandering across the stage at regular intervals, but the joy of it is what makes it work; watching it now is magical – even if it isn't the single most coherent show.



The Checkerboard Lounge Live In Chicago 1981
is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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