Graham Clark, Music Features Writer

Albums: The Rolling Stones - Hackney Diamonds

The Rolling Stones - Hackney Diamonds

Angry; Get Close; Depending on You; Bite My Head Off: Whole Wide World; Dreamy Skies; Mess It Up; Live By The Sword; Driving Me Too Hard; Tell Me Straight; Sweet Sounds of Heaven; Rolling Stone

Polydor: 5812254

Releasing their first studio album of original material in eighteen years, The Rolling Stones return with Hackney Diamonds, which reaches out to a younger audience as well as their older fans.

Featuring guest appearances from Paul McCartney, Elton John, Lady GaGa, Stevie Wonder, and former band member Bill Wyman, the album also features the late Charlie Watts, who recorded parts of Mess It Up and Live By The Sword prior to his death in 2021.

The hype surrounding the album really is justified; this new album is probably their best in over forty years. Mick Jagger seems to have found his mojo again, sounding energised and excited, while Keith Richards has come up with some memorable guitar riffs that are the essence of all the good Stones tracks you love.

Angry opens up the twelve-track album. Already released as a single, the track whets the appetite for what is to come on a song that would fit comfortably with the rest of the back catalogue.

The magic continues on Get Close, which is surely destined to become a single at some point. A sleazy saxophone solo completes the song, where The Stones are back in top form. Part of this renaissance is probably partly due to producer Andrew Watt, who has worked with Dua Lipa and Justin Bieber, as well as rock aristocracy such as Ozzy Osbourne and Iggy Pop, amongst others. Watt has realised that he needed to make The Stones sound influential and contemporary again, yet at the same time sound relevant too.

For those old enough to remember Angie, Depending on You comes as a close relative. The lyric mentions the theme of ageing, a theme that reoccurs throughout the album. "I'm too young to die and too old to lose," sings Jagger.

Bite My Head Off, another turbo-charged track, comes courtesy of a strong baseline from Paul McCartney, where it is hard to believe you are listening to a band where two members will reach eighty years of age in 2023.

Mess It Up finds the band back in pop territory on a track that is unashamedly commercial, while Live by the Sword comes with the swagger and style of Honky Tonk Woman.

A stripped-back version of Muddy Waters’ Rolling Stone (a song that gave the band their name) closes the album—a bluesy number that is in complete contrast to the rest of this strong set of pop and rock songs.

If this is going to be the final album from The Rolling Stones, then what a finale this is!