Saturday, October 26, 2013

Cook Cook Blues

Although (or because?) the relationship between the Glimmer Twins wasn't too good at the time, in October 1982 Mick Jagger and Keith Richards decided to rent a small basement studio in Paris in an attempt to write and perform songs for a new studio album in the old style. When afterwards the Rolling Stones entered the familiar territory of EMI's Pathé Marconi Studios the band had some 40-odd songs to work on.

The so-called Undercover recording sessions at Pathé Marconi, with sound engineer Chris Kimsey, lasted from November 11-December 17, 1982, and continued, with intervals, in January-March, 1983. Both Ian Stewart and Chuck Leavell joined the band during the sessions. Stu played piano on some 10 songs, among which a couple of tunes that would make it to the final album, but also on some well-known outtakes like 'Cookin' Up' (aka 'Chainsaw Rocker'), 'Slide On' and Eddie Taylor's 'Looking For Trouble'.

Stu (on piano) and Chuck (on organ) joined forces on another outtake, the fine boogie and stroll tune 'Cook Cook Blues', which stayed in the can until it appeared as the B-side to the 1989 "Steel Wheels" single 'Rock And A Hard Place'. Here's the 1982/83 Pathé take, you can find the 1989 single version anywhere on the net.

Adapted from the following source: Martin Elliott, The Rolling Stones Complete Recording Sessions 1962-2002, Cherry Red Books, 2002.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Chantilly Lace

On May 26, 1982 the Rolling Stones, joined by Ian Stewart on piano and Chuck Leavell on keyboards, embarked on their Tattoo You European tour (Aberdeen, Scotland, May 26 - Leeds, England, July 25). The tour meant Leavell's live debut with the band, whereas it turned out to be the very last one for Stu. Saxophones during the tour were played by Bobby Keys and Gene Barge, another Stones newcomer.

Just like during the 1981 US tour, the main part of the setlist consisted of material from the Stones' last three albums, "Some Girls", "Emotional Rescue", and "Tattoo You". In the rock and roll covers section crowd pleasers 'Going To A Go Go' and 'Twenty Flight Rock' were supplemented with The Big Bopper's 'Chantilly Lace'. Listen to it here.....alright Stu! And here's the Bopper's original version:

During the tour Ian Stewart once again joined George Thorogood and the Destroyers on stage for a couple of times, on one occasion (The Hague, June 3) accompanied by Mick Jagger and Bobby Keys, performing a couple of Chuck Berry tunes. Completely unrehearsed....but rocking!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Bad To The Bone

During the Rolling Stones' 1981 US tour support acts changed from venue to venue, but amongst the regulars were George Thorogood and the Destroyers, a Delaware based blues rock band led by vocalist and guitarist George Thorogood. Ian Stewart joined the band on stage during a couple of shows, among which the famous one at Hampton Coliseum (December 18).

Stu must have felt attracted to the Destroyers because they always, right from their start in 1977, dug deep into the Chess Records back catalogue, performing songs from longtime Rolling Stones heroes and influencers Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Howlin' Wolf, and many others. In 2011, George Thorogood and the Destroyers paid tribute to the legendary label on their album 2120 South Michigan Ave.

Early 1982 Ian Stewart also entered the studio with the band, to record one of their most well-known albums, "Bad To The Bone" (released September, 1982). Stu played piano and/or organ on almost all album tracks, including the smash hit title track (more than loosely based on Bo Diddley's 'I'm A Man'), Chuck Berry's 'No Particular Place To Go', Jimmy Reed's 'It's A Sin', the Isley Brothers' 'Nobody But Me', and others. If you're interested, listen to the full album right down here.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Checkerboard Lounge

On November 22, 1981, in the middle of their US tour, the Rolling Stones arrived in Chicago for a three-night run at the Rosemont Horizon. On their night off, several of the Stones hit Buddy Guy's club, the Checkerboard Lounge, to see Muddy Waters and his band (which featured guitarist John Primer and harpist George 'Mojo' Buford at the time).

The Stones entered the room after some five songs into the show. On 'Baby Please Don't Go' we see how the band slowly gets involved into the set. An impromptu blues jam ensued, and before the night was done, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ron Wood, Ian Stewart, Lefty Dizz, Junior Wells, and Guy himself had all appeared on stage with Waters and his band.

Stu didn't play all night, but here's a snippet from a tune in which he accompanies Junior Wells. It's nice to watch the Stones being excited to meet their long-time idol, perhaps the greatest bluesman ever and, of course, one of the major influences which led to the formation of the band back in 1962.

Adapted from the following source: Steve Leggett, Checkerboard Lounge: Live Chicago, 1981, CD/DVD review, Allmusic, 2012.

1981: Stu On Stage

One of the core pleasures of Stones-watching over the years was the suspense of waiting to see what Mick Jagger would wear on stage. For his first public performances of the 1980s, Jagger favoured sporty, gay-quarterback gear mercilessly co-oordinated in bright pinks and yellows. He put on a slick show, and periodically tore across the stage on to one of a pair of catwalks extending in to the crowd, like a labrador chasing a tennis ball.

Keith Richards and Ron Wood played their guitar parts as one long, joshing by-play, complete with errors, and Charlie Watts effortlessly battered the drums. Stage left, Bill Wyman remained stationary throughout, except to neatly shoot the cuffs of his pale-blue suit, but even he looked like a manic rock star compared to Ian Stewart.

In Philadelphia, Stu walked on in front of 90,000 fans wearing ancient corduroys and a golf shirt straining over his ample midriff while munching a cheese sandwich, which he carefully placed on top of his piano. He then proceeded to play in a classic, jumping-barrelhouse style that sometimes seemed to be from another song, if not another galaxy, to the chosen repertoire [A fine example of this we find on the Stones' rendition of Eddie Cochran's 'Twenty Flight Rock' (see last post), with Stu boogieing along; Cochran's original cuts didn't contain any piano at all!].

At what proved to be one of the last moments, Ian Stewart finally got and/or took the room to perform a full set of concerts with the band he had joined before anyone else still alive. Between numbers, Stu yawned, took down the sandwich, and continued to eat it impassively.

Adapted from the following source: Christopher Sandford, The Rolling Stones Fifty Years, Simon & Schuster, 2012, p.331-332.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Twenty Flight Rock

On September 25, 1981 the Rolling Stones, joined by Ian Stewart on piano and Ian McLagan on keyboards, embarked on their Tattoo You US Tour (Philadelphia, September 25 - Hampton, December 18). Shortly after tour start the band decided they also needed some brass on stage, and that gap was filled by saxophone players Lee Allen (October 1-4) and Ernie Watts (from October 7 onwards) respectively. Veteran Stones sax man Bobby Keys also played during some selected shows from October 9 onwards.

The main part of the tour's setlist consisted of material from the Stones' last three albums, "Some Girls", "Emotional Rescue" and, of course, "Tattoo You". In the rock and roll covers section Don Raye's boogie woogie tune 'Down The Road Apiece' appeared a few times early on in the tour, as did Bo Diddley's 'Mona'. Smokey Robinson's 'Going To A Go Go', however, was a real crowd pleaser that stayed for the duration, as did Eddie Cochran's classic 'Twenty Flight Rock'.

Stu and Mac played piano, electric piano and organ on almost all songs throughout the set. The tour was documented on the 1982 album "Still Life (American Concert 1981)" and on the live concert film "Let's Spend The Night Together", directed by Hal Ashby, and released worldwide in 1983.