There’s a set I caught on PBS once: Muddy Water’s band, later in his career, playing a small club. In walk Mick and Keith. Track suits, beers; Muddy’s thrilled to have them up on stage. There’s a legitimacy to that scene that something like, say, The Black Keys at the Grammy’s with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band just doesn’t have. Even as Mick stammers – soaking up as much of the spotlight as he can, unable to remember the words to “Champagne and Reefer”- you don’t feel like Muddy Water’s is trying to undeservedly lend the Stones authenticity.
In ’71 the Stones’ were in rare form. Sticky Fingers, their most recent in a run of spectacular albums, laid pipe for the Hard- Rock that would capture the imagination of the decade. The Stones’ were ducking down the alley into Exile which would take their attention for the rest of year. The shambling American music jambalaya that hisses and pops off of that weary wax has come to define the Stones’ legacy. But more than drugs and sex, Richards and Jagger had an insatiable lust for R&B and on this March ’71 date in London it shows. A truly fantastic ‘Live With Me’ kicks this half-hour club set off and with the key’s of Ian Stewart and sax of Bobby Key’s you might as well be transported to Muscle Shoals. The three act ‘Midnight Rambler’ sounds like Stax and Atlantic are in the next room conceiving a child. The wonderfully reimagined ‘Satisfaction’, however, styles the show. Here, their no longer imitating the blues greats whose albums they cherish, they’re emulating them. Here in this clip, they’re becoming the guys who walked in to a Muddy Water’s gig and got invited up on stage.