On the greatly anticipated Hackney Diamonds, the Rolling Stones revisit their timeless sound and deliver another record that promises to stand the test of time. Guests include Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, Elton John, and Lady Gaga.
In a dazzling spectacle that lit up London’s Hackney Empire on September 6, the Rolling Stones unveiled what can honestly be called the newest gem in their unparalleled discography, Hackney Diamonds. The iconic trio of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Ronnie Wood took center stage via a global livestream interview with TV’s Jimmy Fallon. Mick Jagger, still with a charisma that defies age, humbly shared, “I don’t want to be big-headed, but we wouldn’t have put this album out if we hadn’t really liked it. We didn’t want to make just any record and put it out…before we went in we all said ‘We’ll go and make a record that we really love ourselves. Other people may like it, other people may not’…but we’re pleased with it and we hope you all like it.”
Hackney Diamonds is the Stones first batch of new material since they blew us all away with 2005's A Bigger Bang. With Grammy winner Andrew Watt at the helm as producer, the album was created all over the place, from Henson Studios in Los Angeles, to Metropolis Studios in London; from Sanctuary Studios in Nassau, Bahamas to Electric Lady and The Hit Factory/Germano Studios in New York. I can only assume it’s because no one recording studio, no matter how legendary, can handle the mighty Rolling Stones all by itself. Probably also because they can afford conversations like, “Hey Mick, I wouldn’t mind doing some guitar parts in the Bahamas so we can get some sun.”
As for the music, the Stones continue to do what they do best, and every other band is still just trying to catch up. Proving that rock and roll truly never dies, two of the tracks, “Mess It Up” and “Live By The Sword,” include the band’s late drummer, Charlie Watts. Former Stones’ bassist Bill Wyman also joins in on “Live By The Sword,” making for a reunion of sorts. Adding in some newer star power, "Sweet Sounds Of Heaven" takes to the skies thanks to the celestial vocals of Lady Gaga. And because you’re the Stones, Lady Gaga alone isn’t enough so you bring in Stevie Wonder to play some piano, Rhodes, and Moog on the track too! Not to be outdone, "Bite My Head Off" gets a little bass help from Sir Paul McCartney, while Sir Elton John tickles the ivories on both "Get Close" and "Live By The Sword."
The first taste we all got from the album, "Angry," opens with a classic Stones drum beat before kicking in with an almost Clash-like guitar riff. The Clash probably learned it from watching Keith anyways. The song really comes to life with the music video directed by Francois Rousselet. Emmy-nominated actor Sydney Sweeney takes center stage in this groundbreaking visual feast, drawing footage from the Stones' extensive archive of videos and performances. Leave it to the Stones to deliver one of the coolest music videos in years without even leaving the comfort of their homes. Rousselet also directed the video for "Ride ’Em On Down" from 2016’s Blue & Lonesome, which also featured a popular actor in the form of Kristen Stewart. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, I guess.