Chicago 1981 2nd Night (no label)
Rosemont Horizon, Chicago, IL – November 24, 1981
Disc 1: (70:50) Take The A Train, Under My Thumb, When The Whip Comes Down, Let’s Spend The Night Together, Shattered, Neighbors, Black Limousine, Just My Imagination, Twenty Flight Rock, Going To A Go Go, Let Me Go, Time Is On My Side, Beast Of Burden, Waiting On A Friend, Let It Bleed
Disc 2: (64:18) You Can’t Always Get What You Want, Band Introductions, Little T & A, Tumbling Dice, She’s So Cold, Hang Fire, Miss You, Honky Tonk Women, Brown Sugar, Start Me Up, Jumping Jack Flash, Satisfaction, The Star-Spangled Banner
The Rolling Stones second night in Chicago during the 1981 American Tour is no stranger to the collecting community as it has been released on silver disc in various forms a few times in the past. Dog n Cat Records released Sweet Home Chicago 1981 (DAC 004) as a 3CD set that featured the incomplete soundboard/audience mix on the first two discs and the Checkerboard Lounge show with Muddy Waters from November 22nd on the third disc. In The Windy City (A Vinyl Gang Product VGP371) was released in 2004 and is a 4CD set that features the audience source paired with the Atlanta show from October 26th. Sweet Home Chicago (Empress Valley EVSD 381-382) came the following year featuring a mono soundboard/audience mix. Most soundboard sources used up to this point were all incomplete missing the introduction, part of “Under My Thumb” and had a twenty minute gap in the middle starting at 2:15 in “Time Is On My Side” including “Beast Of Burden,” “Waiting On A Friend,” “Let It Bleed” and the first minute and forty-one seconds of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”.
Chicago 1981 2nd Night is the latest release to feature this concert and is the complete performance from an excellent stereo soundboard more than likely sourced from one of a bunch of 1981 Stones shows recently appearing on Wolfgang’s Vault. All instruments are mixed very well and there is a nice stereo separation in the guitars with Woody in the left channel and Keef to the right. Additional musicians on the tour featured Ian McLagan and Ian Stewart sharing the keyboard duties and Bobby Keys and Ernie Watts on saxophone. The enormous reaction the band gets from the crowd is properly mixed in and never overtakes the music and the show is simply a joy to listen to in this quality.
Barring the warm-up club gig that the Stones played at Sir Morgan’s Cove in Worcester, MA on September 14th, the official start to the American Tour was in Philly on September 25th and would run for close to three months before ending again on the east coast in Hampton, VA on December 19th. Their visit to the Chicago area featured three consecutive shows in Des Plains from November 23rd to the 25th while they also managed to get in a one off at the Checkerboard Lounge on the 22nd with Muddy Waters.
As Gerard mentioned in his review of the first night at the Rosemont Horizon on Chicago 1981 (no label), collectors had mixed opinions on the band’s performance. Overall, I feel the band deliver a solid performance all around on the second night. There is of course the occasional blunder, but after all, this is The Rolling Stones, a band that thrives on that loose (and sometimes sloppy) atmosphere that ultimately attracted us all to begin with.
For the most part this is an excellent sounding document from the Stones 1981 Still Life tour with a couple of very minor issues. “Let Me Go” sounds like it has a different source mixed in from 3:31 to 3:42. Perhaps there was a gap in the original source that is filled from another night and if you are really paying attention you may notice the alternate source sounds much drier. “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” also has some noticeable static interference in the right channel (wireless static?) that could be a brief problem with Keith’s guitar signal and not the source used.
The performance gets off to a slow start as the band eases their way into “Under My Thumb” but pull the groove together but by the time Mick joins the party. Mick says “I feel pretty good but I feel pretty Sha-doo-bee” before launching into a very enthusiastic “Shattered”. “Neighbors” comes off as rather clumsy and sounds out of place in the set but others like the bluesy “Black Limousine” hits the nail on the head and is followed by a great eight minute version of “Just My Imagination”. They also sound like they are having a lot of fun covering “Twenty Flight Rock” and “Going To A Go Go”.
“You Can’t Always Get What You Want” starts with Mick asking “Chicago, can you sing?… than let’s sing one together”. Ronnie takes an interesting extended solo before the sax takes over. It sounds like Jagger has the entire place singing in unison in the break. Keith’s vocal spot follows with the Tattoo You cut, “Little T & A”.
“Do you want to get down a bit?” Jagger asks the crowd before “Tumbling Dice”. The unmistakable guitar intro alone is enough to get them fired up. With the exception of “She’s So Cold” and “Hang Fire” (which are still decent versions) the second half on the show is packed with hits that are sure to please the Chicago crowd. Bill Wyman hits a few bum notes in “Miss You” but is a minor flaw considering the rest of the track has a really nice groove. There is some really good harmonica played by bluesman Sugar Blue in the background throughout most of the track. The show finishes on a high note with very strong versions of the usual classics. “Brown Sugar” and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” especially have great energy while “Satisfaction” falls just short of being excellent.
Chicago 1981 2nd Night comes packaged in a slimline jewel case featuring some nice live shots from the tour. The excellent sound quality and decent performance will make this a nice addition to any Stones collection. Despite some obvious flaws they really get a nice vibe going tonight worth investigating.