In the grand tapestry of rock ‘n’ roll history, the Rolling Stones may be six decades deep into their legendary career, but they’re far from done. Their latest opus, “Hackney Diamonds,” shimmers with a star-studded brilliance that belies the passage of time. The album, set to drop on October 20, promises enchanting contributions from luminaries like Lady Gaga, Paul McCartney, and the inimitable Stevie Wonder.
Yet, amidst the celestial constellation of musical luminaries, there’s a bittersweet note. Charlie Watts, the steadfast Stones drummer who took his final bow in 2021 after an astonishing six decades in the band, leaves his indelible mark on the album. His timeless drumming, recorded back in 2019, graces two of the album’s dozen tracks, with the talented Steve Jordan handling the percussion on the rest.
Unveiling the album in the vibrant heart of London’s Hackney district, guitarist Keith Richards couldn’t help but touch upon the void left by Watts. “Of course, he’s missed incredibly,” Richards mused, his eyes reflecting the decades of shared rhythm. “But thanks to Charlie, we have Steve Jordan, who was his recommendation if anything should happen to him. It would have been a lot harder without Charlie’s blessing.”
‘Angry’: The 18-Year Wait and the Quest for Musical Perfection
The album’s overture, the single “Angry,” offers an electric glimpse into the Stones’ world. Accompanied by a music video starring Sydney Sweeney of “White Lotus” fame, it’s a cinematic cruise down LA’s Sunset Boulevard. Sweeney’s red convertible glides past billboards bearing witness to the Stones’ enduring evolution.
But why did it take a staggering 18 years to craft new musical magic? Richards, the timeless rock ‘n’ roll sage, attributes the delay to Mick Jagger’s wanderlust for perfection. “When you have a singer that wants to sing, you grab him and throw him in the studio,” Richards quipped with a grin. Once there, the songs erupted with an almost primal energy, an urgency to be heard.
Yet, Jagger, the maestro of stage and verse, was disarmingly candid about the hiatus. “I don’t want to be big-headed,” he mused, “but we wouldn’t have put this album out if we hadn’t really liked it. We said we had to make a record we really love ourselves. We are quite pleased with it, we are not big-headed about it, but we hope you all like it.”
While “Angry” echoes with the familiar Stones’ rawness, the album offers more than just jagged vibes. Jagger reveals it holds a kaleidoscope of sounds, from love songs to ballads and even a dash of country charm.
The Stones’ Unwavering Dedication: No Retirement in Sight
Recorded in studios scattered across the globe, this album is a collaboration with Grammy-winning producer Andrew Watt, known for his work with music titans like Ozzy Osbourne, Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, and Post Malone. However, one featured vocalist’s presence was serendipitous. Lady Gaga, lending her ethereal voice to “Sweet Sound of Heaven,” stumbled into the Stones’ orbit while recording next door. An impromptu jam session birthed an unforgettable contribution.
As for retirement? The Stones, now octogenarians of rock, have no such plans. Mick Jagger at 80, Keith Richards at 79, and Ronnie Woods at 76 remain steadfast in their commitment to the stage. A European 60th-anniversary tour in 2022 showcased their enduring vitality, with an American tour “penciled in” for the next year, as revealed by Ronnie Wood. Retirement? Impossible. The Stones’ music still pulses with life, and they’re not stopping anytime soon. “You’ve got to keep playing,” declares Wood, and indeed, the Stones’ timeless melody continues to captivate the world.
“Hackney Diamonds” is more than an album; it’s a testament to an eternal passion for music, a spark that refuses to be extinguished. It’s a radiant jewel in the Rolling Stones’ legacy, a dazzling reminder that their journey is far from over.