ARTIST: ROLLING STONES
ALBUM: HACKNEY DIAMONDS
RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 20TH 2023
LABEL: UNIVERSAL MUSIC
REVIEWER: RODNEY STRACHAN
Legendary Rock band The Rolling Stones today released their first studio album in 18 years! The album features guest stars Elton John, Lady Gaga, Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, and former bandmate Bill Wyman. It is the first studio album of original material by the band since 2005’s A Bigger Bang and the band’s first following the 2021 death of drummer Charlie Watts, who contributed to select tracks in 2019 prior to his untimely passing. The album consists of eleven brand new tracks and a Muddy Waters cover.
“Angry” is the leadoff single first released to the public on September 6th, 2023. The song shows all the positive built-up anger of a band almost two decades from a new release. A perfect song in so many ways and a flawless way to showcase to the world just what we have been missing in our lives. “Get Close” has that classic Stones swagger with catchy lyrics and fills. Thoroughly deserving it’s position at track two giving the album a rocking start with a new breakdown complete with saxophone, guitar and drums.
“Depending On You” strips the release into a mellow and angelic mid-tempo ballad. Often overlooked in the past for such great additions to their records – this is yet another one that should be recognised for pure genius that it is. Album producer Andrew Watt co-wrote the first three tracks with the glimmer twins and must be applauded for his creative input. “Bite My Head Off” referred to by Watt as “the punk song” features fellow rock legend Paul McCartney on bass. An up-tempo rocker that delivers as legends collide in a studio together for the first time ever! Worth the price of the album alone – Instant classic as the Stones and Paul play together like they have been playing together forever!
“Whole Wide World” keeps the uplifted tempo and could easily fit into any number of Stones albums from the past. Ronnie Wood & Keith Richards trade some classic licks here, meshed with some quintessential Mick Jagger lyrics. “Dreamy Skies” illustrate the bands blues roots in its finest form. Laid back and charming with some fantastic harmonica fills as only the Stones can deliver!
“Mess It Up” is the first of two tracks to feature the late great Charlie Watts on the drums. The track includes a short live intro before the guys get into their groove. The track again gives another comfortable Stones vibe. “Live By the Sword” features former Stones bass guitarist Bill Wyman – Which reunites the core members from 1975 – 1993 for the time in over 30 years on a record! This is exemplary Stones of the highest calibre. A throwback sound one final time?
“Driving Me Too Hard” is a euphonious version of the albums opening track. Well written and played out. “Tell Me Straight” features Keith on vocals. He delivers one of his finest vocal performances of his career with this down tempo track. Running in at under 3 minutes it is the shortest track on the album – But leaves you wanting more.
“Sweet Sounds of Heaven” features Lady Gaga and Stevie Wonder as special guests. Recently released as the album’s second single this track is nothing short of extraordinary. From Mick’s amazing soulful blue vocals – To Lady Gaga’s gospel fuelled vocal fills – Stevie’s grand keyboard and piano playing – What more could you ask for? The album version running in at over seven minutes featuring a grand finale incorporating long term additional bass player Darryl Jones and “new” kid on the block Steve Jordan.
“Rolling Stone Blues” is the final track on the album and a cover of the Muddy Waters 1950 blues single. This record is where the band got their name from and a fitting final curtain to the record….Hopefully this is not the end of the recording days of the this evergreen 61 year old band! “Hackney Diamonds” is proof the band has lost not nothing when it comes to delivering music of the highest standard.