Muddy Waters and the Rolling Stones album review

Live at the Checkerboard Lounge Chicago 1981

4/5
As hype builds for the Rolling Stones’ 50th anniversary – the rock dinosaurs’ first gigs in five years take place in London later this month, and recent single ‘Doom and Gloom’ marked their first new music in seven – this release has been uncharacteristically overlooked. Arguably the most famous gig in Chicago blues club history occurred on November 22 1981 at the Checkerboard Lounge, when the Stones made an ‘impromptu’ appearance with blues legend Muddy Waters and his band at the joint that Buddy Guy opened nine years earlier (so ‘impromptu’ that a multi-camera film crew was on hand).

The concert was loose and fun, offering glimpses into the personalities of Waters, the Stones and the club itself. An oft-bootlegged fan favourite, this first official release provides a rare peek at the rock legends relaxing on stage rather than strutting around a stadium.

From the moment Mick’s tentative vocals open ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’, the recording harks back to an era before internet downloads and burned CDs. The magic here is that this belated release feels precious, dangerous and special, like a classic, mysterious bootleg LP.

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