There's nothing like good old Rolling Stones music. With little fanfare, on June 16, Eagle Rock Entertainment is releasing CDs for the first time of three Stones shows from the Seventies and Eighties that are very familiar to Stones fans, having been released on bootlegs, then on legitimate DVDs. They are “Ladies and Gentlemen, the Rolling Stones” from 1971; “Some Girls Live in Texas” from 1978 and “Muddy Waters and the Rolling Stones: Checkerboard Lounge, Live Chicago 1981.” “Ladies and Gentlemen, the Rolling Stones,” is the only one from guitarist Mick Taylor's stint with the band. Both “Some Girls Live in Texas” and “Checkerboard Lounge, Live Chicago 1981” feature Ronnie Wood.
On “Ladies and Gentlemen, the Rolling Stones,” the Stones were a no-frills towering rock band as Taylor's wailing guitar notes proved invigorating to Jagger and Richards. With “Some Girls Live in Texas,” from the “Some Girls” period, the band still rocked hard, but sounds sassy. It fit in well with Jagger's on-stage persona.
The most unique of the three, though, is “Checkerboard Lounge,” where Jagger, Wood, Richards and Ian Stewart pop into a Chicago nightclub to jam with blues legend (and Stones influence) Muddy Waters and his band. This is really more of a blues record than anything else, and the Stones pretty much take second billing to Muddy Waters, since its his show. While the music doesn't have the power that the Stones' recent blues-filled “Blue & Lonesome” has, this is still a classic blues performance and it's great that the Stones got this one down for posterity, first on DVD and now on CD.
Sound-wise, both “Some Girls Live in Texas” and “Checkerboard Lounge” sound good. But “Ladies and Gentlemen,” maybe given its age, sounds compressed and disappointing. It's too bad this one couldn't have been fixed up.
For a look at the Stones in more recent times, there's the DVD and CD package “Olé, Olé, Olé,” also released recently. “Olé, Olé, Olé” tries to be two films in one - a documentary film and a concert film and succeeds at neither. The documentary takes up too much of the film leaving little for the concert. What little of the concert there is seems randomly inserted and out of order. The recent DVD/CD set of their concert in Cuba, “Havana Moon,” is the Stones in a much better musical frame.