(Photo courtesy of: AP News) “The Rolling Stones perform songs from their new album at a surprise club show.”
On Oct. 20, the Rolling Stones released “Hackney Diamonds,” their first album since 2016.
The 21st century has been a tumultuous one for the Stones, who have released just two albums since the turn of the century, 2005’s “A Bigger Bang” and 2016’s “Blue & Lonesome.”
“Hackney Diamonds” is the group’s first release since the death of drummer Charlie Watts, who had been in the band since its founding in 1962. Watts’ drumming is featured on two tracks on the album, “Mess it Up” and “Live by the Sword.”
The rest of the drumming is handled by Steve Jordan, a seasoned session drummer who started playing with the group on their 2021 tour. Watts announced his departure from the tour in early August and died just two weeks later.
Jordan’s drumming fits right in with the Stones. He locks into a groove with the bass, played interchangeably by Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood. The Stones have employed this system of having the bass played by their guitarists since founding bassist Bill Wyman’s departure in 1993.
“Hackney Diamonds” is an extremely strong effort by the band, who sound about 30 years younger than they actually are. Mick Jagger’s vocals are filled with passion, and it isn’t hard to imagine him slinking around onstage while belting out the lyrics to the lead single “Angry,” released September 2023, accompanied by a music video starring actress Sydney Sweeney.
The album’s fourth track, “Bite My Head Off,” sounds like it would have been right at home on one of the group’s 1970s efforts. The bass on the track is played by Paul McCartney,
marking the first official collaboration between The Beatles and the Stones, although the two groups had numerous uncredited collaborations in the 1960s.
Richards and Wood both have amazing moments on guitar throughout the album. Richards’ solo on “Bite My Head Off” is like nothing he has done before, with the song sounding like a Van Halen song.
Richards also gets a moment to shine behind the microphone on “Tell Me Straight.” The Stones have made it a tradition to give Richards the lead vocal on their albums, and his songs are quite different from the group’s normal hard rock sound.
On “Tell Me Straight,” Richards softly sings as Jagger harmonizes with him on the chorus. Jordan lays down a strong backbeat while Richards both sings and strums an acoustic guitar. The track will make for a strong concert moment, allowing Jagger to rest his voice mid-set.
As the album ends, two strong tracks leave listeners wanting even more.
“Sweet Sounds of Heaven” features Lady Gaga on vocals and Stevie Wonder on keyboards. This legendary duo leads to one of the most memorable rock songs in recent memory, as Gaga belts in a way that only she can while Jagger sings the melody.
The final track, “Rolling Stone Blues,” brings the legendary group’s career full circle. Jagger and Richards became inspired to start a band after a chance encounter at a train station, where Jagger noticed Richards carrying the original Muddy Waters record of “Rolling Stone Blues.” If this is the final Stones album, it is only right that it ends with the song that started it all.
Overall Grade: A+