The Rolling Stones – ‘Ladies & Gentlemen’/’Some Girls: Live In Texas ‘78’/’Checkerboard Lounge: Live In Chicago 1981’ (Eagle Records) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Mark Ashby   
Saturday, 08 July 2017 04:00

Stones - Ladies artworkIn today’s transient society, where t’interweb and its associated social media channels dominate (most of) of our everyday lives, everything is about being “in the moment” – and capturing and sharing that moment for the entire world to see. Gigs are captured and recorded on the latest digital gadget, while being watched on the screen of the same and broadcast to the worldwide audience who cannot share what is supposed to be one of those special moments, that involving the direct interaction between an artist and their audience, not a room full of electronic devices…


Of course, bootlegging of gigs has been common for decades, but it was an activity conducted on the sly, with tapes being swapped on the mysteriously effective precursor of the modern “dark web” – with the artists often complicit in the activity, as it helped to boost their profile. But, long before technology made it so simplistic that even the most boring geek on the planet can capture and share what is supposed to be a snapshot of a moment in time, we had to rely on the official output released by bands and labels, often filmed at only the best shows and then sanctioned for release to the masses.


Two out of the three titles in this set of three archive recordings from the Stones quite possibly fall into that category, but all of them capture a rock ‘n’ roll band not only at the height of their powers but also fully prepared, in the case of the final set in the triptych, to go back and acknowledge their roots. ‘Ladies & Gentlemen’ and ‘Some Girls’ will be well familiar to fans, as they both have been available on DVD for quite some time: both recorded in Texas, but six years apart, they are generally regarded as capturing some of the band’s finest live recordings. As fans will know, ‘Ladies…’ is the soundtrack recorded over four nights of the 1972 ‘Exile On Main Street’ tour and then edited down into this highly honed package.


Stones - Some Girls artwork‘Some Girls’ is self-explanatory – recorded in Fort Worth on the US leg of the tour to promote the album of the same name. Interestingly, despite the relatively short time frame between the two sets, they only share four songs – ‘ Brown Sugar’, ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’, ‘Tumbling Dice’ and ‘Happy’ – which emphasizes the depth of the Stones archive: even more interestingly, neither of them contains the likes of ‘Satisfaction’, which is another indicative of their mind frame at the time… a band who did what they wanted, on their terms, before selling out to audience expectations and delivering only “greatest hits” packages on subsequent tours?


Personally, the most interesting of this trio of re-issues is the most recent. On a rare night off during their then record-breaking ‘Tattoo You’ tour, just before three sold out shows at the city’s Rosemont Stadium, the band – well Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood and keyboardist Ian Stewart – popped into Buddy Guy’s Checkerboard Lounge in Chicago, to sit in on one of Muddy Waters’ legendary sessions. And sit in they did, as the four English blues fanatics ended up forming the cornerstone of the 15-piece band that ended up jamming the night away… it turned out to be such an elemental night that Guy himself, together with Junior Wells, couldn’t resist joining in!


Stones - CheckerboardThe result is a truly unique recording. You can almost see the smile on Woods’ face as he jams with two of his heroes, as Waters encourages and cajoles both him and Richards to stretch their blues knowledge to the limits… and, boy, do they?  Jagger, known for his onstage swagger, displays his deference to the company in which he and his bandmates find themselves: you can almost see the gentle nod that Waters gives, saying “now you can sing boy”, and Jagger bowing with respect. And the final interaction between them on the wonderful ‘Champagne And Reefer’ is just one of those sublime moments… ye gods, I wish I had been one of the less than 200 people who were there to witness that historic night!


Altogether, these three albums epitomize the Stones at the height of their powers and bring together three superb, and supremely different, live shows, which demonstrate just how dynamic a rock ‘n’ roll band they truly are – and one who also have never been afraid to pay due homage and respect to where they came from. The only thing that probably could have enhanced these three well companioned releases would have been to release them as a boxset rather than three separate CDs. But there you go: ladies and gentlemen, The Rolling Stones.


‘Ladies & Gentlemen, ’Some Girls: Live In Texas ‘78’ and ’Checkerboard Lounge: Live In Chicago 1981’ are all out now.


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