The Stones have completed their 26th studio album. And “Hackney Diamonds”, which is released on Friday, is, to say the least, a strong record. Rock ‘n’ roll people usually start their late work much earlier. Johnny Cash released his first “American Recordings” record with a voice made of ashes and dust at the age of 62, Bob Dylan’s dark “Time out of Mind” was released in 1997, when the artist was just 56 years old.
The Rolling Stones stopped writing songs in 2005
The Stones, on the other hand, abandoned their songwriting in 2005 with the politically tinged work “A Bigger Bang” and followed up with the powerful blues cover collection “Blue & Lonesome” at Christmas time in 2016. Motto: Better nothing than woe and alas and swan song.
Now they are 80 (Mick Jagger), 79 (Keith Richards) and 76 (Ronnie Wood) years old. And – Richards whispered about this in an RND interview in 2019 – they have returned with a new collection of songs. “Hackney Diamonds”, announced with weeks of guesswork, a countdown and the Jimmy Fallon show in London, is not an old man’s return either in sound or sentences.
No ballads, no soon-it-will-be-over lyrics
Anyone who expected balance, regrets and soon-it-will-be-over texts, or a ballad shop, will be surprised. The Rolling Stones are as energetic as they were 50 years ago, relaxed and furious, timeless and not the least bit embarrassing. Everything sounds not only as if they (re)invented this music, but as if they had just done so.
In the band’s 61st year of existence (partly under the wing of Grammy-winning New York producer Andrew Watt) a rousing rock ‘n’ roll album was created. Like many Stones records since “Beggar’s Banquet” (1968), it begins with a banger – the riff-strong pre-single “Angry”.
And on the way through a dozen songs, it touches on and fuses many genres that the British had conquered over the decades. Blues and dub can be found in the slow, stubborn rocker “Get Close”, country and blues with split acoustic guitar and lyrical piano in the strolling “Dreamy Skies”, and “Mess It Up” is a mix of rock (verse) and disco (refrain). .
The Stones and a Beatle try their hand at punk
And never since 1978’s “Respectable” have the Stones been closer to punk than in “Bite My Head Off”, on which Beatles guest Paul McCartney lets the bass nag rabidly. In general, the pace is uptempo, the sound is rough – and melodies like in “Whole Wide World” or “Depending on You”, which with its sunrise guitar solo and its string ensemble are reminiscent of the days of “Sticky Fingers” (1971), are something you won’t have for ages receive.
Everything here is catchy – occasional quotes from yourself and others included: “Driving Me Too Hard” has trace elements of the Stones’ own “Tumbeling Dice” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days”.
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Charlie Watts is missing, but Steve Jordan doesn’t seem out of place
Jagger sounds young – whether he’s crooning tenderly like in “Dreamy Skies” or pumping his words into the song like in “Live by The Sword”. Primarily it speaks of the stages of love, but even melancholy lines like “The streets I used to walk / are full of broken glass / and everywhere I look / there are memories of my yesterday” don’t sound lame. The ballad “Tell Me Straight” is Richards’ strongest vocal contribution to a Stones album to date.
And sure, Charlie Watts is missed, but his successor on drums, Steve Jordan, doesn’t seem like a stranger to the band structure.
The Lady and the Stones – “Sweet Sounds of Heaven” has what it takes to become a classic
The many previously announced star guests fit in pleasantly unnoticed – McCartney and ex-Stone Bill Wyman on bass, Tom Petty keyboardist Benmont Tench, Stevie Wonder and Elton John on the keys. Only Lady Gaga sings a duet with Mick Jagger – and the monumental seven-minute, 22-second goosebumps gospel “Sweet Sounds of Heaven” simply blows the listener away in the final turn of the album. A classic to be. Sometimes, unlike what the Stones sang in 1969, you get both at the same time – what you want and what you need.
Muddy Waters’ “Rollin’ Stone Blues” rounds out the album
Jagger and Richards close together with the bony “Rollin’ Stone Blues” by blues father Muddy Waters, the song after which – according to one of the Stones’ founding myths – the band took its name in 1962 (another mentions the “rollin’ stone” line from Waters’ “Mannish Boy”). The guitar and harmonica sound as if the piece was recorded in a juke joint, a blues joint (it feels like 1930). Jagger whispers about the mother who prophesied that the father would have a son and: “He’s going to be a rolling stone”. The Story of the Stones.
The spirits of the blues dance around the two Stones bosses, do their voodoo and transform them – regardless of whether this album is the worthy conclusion to one of the greatest stories in rock music or the start of a really late work – into rolling diamonds. Cheers!
“Hackney Diamonds” – the cover of the first Rolling Stones album since 2005, which features compositions by singer Mick Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards.
© Source: The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones: “Hackney Diamonds” (Polydor) will be released on October 20th.
The Stones bus rolls off: From October 19th, the Rolling Stones are sending their “Hackney Diamonds Pop-Up Bus” on a tour of Germany. On the night of October 19th to 20th, the bus will make its first stop at the Christ Church in Hanover (7 p.m. to midnight, Conrad-Wilhelm-Hase-Platz). Stones fans on site can listen to the new album in Dolby Atmos sound, there are cold drinks and album and band-related merchandise. At midnight in Hanover you can buy the “RS Carnaby No.9” vinyl edition of “Hackney Diamonds” in red – which is only available on the bus tour. The bus stops are: October 19, 2023, Hanover, October 20, Hamburg (Spielbudenplatz), October 21, Essen (Zeche Carl-Wilhelm-Nieswandt-Allee 100), October 22, Lingen (market square), October 23. Cologne (Im Mediapark 1), October 24th Frankfurt (no location announced), October 25th Nuremberg (Meistersingerhalle) and October 26th Leipzig (Kurt-Masur-Platz).