THE ROLLING STONES
Hackney Diamonds (Polydor)
The Rolling Stones’ first album of new material in 18 years kicks off with Angry, with those trademark Stones guitar licks cranked up as Mick Jagger’s ferocious vocals relay a farcical argument between two lovers. With the loss of original Stones drummer Charlie Watts, in 2021, having shaken things up in the Stones camp, Jagger’s deadline for Hackney Diamonds was completed in a matter of weeks, rather than months or years, and the result sounds defiant and fresh, with all guns blazing.
Producer Andrew Watt keeps things aurally sharp and super sleek, but this is still recognisably a Stones album, ballads and full-throttle rockers side by side. There are the country blues-soaked tracks Depending On You and Dreamy Skies; Bite My Head Off and Whole Wide World are rockier turns, while Mess It Up and Live By The Sword both have Watts playing on them. The sucker punch, though, comes with the final three tracks.
First up in this sequence, Keith Richards-sung ballad Tell Me Straight, paves the way nicely for the gospel-influenced Sweet Sound Of Heaven: with Stevie Wonder on piano and Lady Gaga vocally duelling with Jagger, it’ll surely go down as one of the best Stones tracks ever made. And Hackney Diamonds ends with the band coming full circle from their early 1960s origins, covering Muddy Waters’ Rollin’ Stone and modifying its title to Rolling Stone Blues.
words DAVID NOBAKHT