The Rolling Stones are still at it, huh? It appears they’ll be around forever. Last Friday, the Rolling Stones, a rock band from the early 60s, released their newest album, “Hackney Diamonds.” The name of the album itself is very “Stonesy.” It captures the vibe right off the bat. Keith Richards himself said, “it [the name of the album] refers to broken glass left over in the morning after a good Saturday night that went bad.”
This is the band’s first album since 2005. Why it did it take that long? No one knows, ask the band’s new producer, but the break did not seem to shake them a bit. As far as the music goes, not much has changed. However, that is not to say it is outdated by any means. They do a great job of staying true to their roots while adding a nice 21st-century polish. There is a ton of raw energy that’ll take anyone’s dad right back to the ’70s yet keep their teenage daughters that grew up on rock ‘n’ roll bopping their heads.
Mick Jagger is still a musical genius and can bring the heat with his voice and lyrics. It seems like he’ll never lose that classic Mick Jagger swagger. The unique, instantly recognizable voice does not sound like it’s coming from an 80-year-old man that’s for sure. He takes us on a journey through time with some twists and turns. He will always have that rebellious, witty, young soul feel in his voice.
The guitar work is still on point. Richards and Ronnie Wood have only gotten better with time. Their work has aged like fine wine. It’s graceful, it’s effortless, it’s timeless, it barks. The riffs are insane, and the solos are unmatched. These two are icons with a cool, confident style that defines the band’s sound.
Some may argue that continuing to record after the death of their top tier drummer, Charlie Watts, is a crime. He is dearly missed, but he handpicked his replacement, Steve Jordan, in the case that he would no longer be able to perform. Luckily, Watts was able to record two of the twelve tracks, “Mess It Up” and “Live by the Sword,” before his death in 2021. Hardcore fans will tell be able to tell a difference, they still totally rocked it.
The use of the guest stars was interesting. Lady Gaga and Stevie Wonder made an appearance in the calming “Sweet Sounds of Heaven,” Paul McCartney got in on the action of “Bite My Head Off,” and Elton John joins in on the piano for “Get Close” and “Live By the Sword.” Lady Gaga was the most unexpected star to appear, but she did a wonderful job as always. Each individual added their own little pizzaz that created even more nostalgia throughout the album.
Production-wise, “Hackney Diamonds” is evidence of the band’s commitment to pure excellence. The balance throughout the album is delicate and one that modern production sometimes struggles to capture. Each instrument is given their own space which contributes to the overall richness of the sound. Each piece is captured with clarity and precision. Throughout the album, the band showcases the depth of their music. They continue to remind all that even after all these years, the Stones are unafraid to experiment and push themselves to perfection.
If this is the end, they gave it everything they had and they killed it. It isn’t their best by any means, but it’s a solid addition to their collection. And if it isn’t the end, then bring it on. The Rolling Stones are timeless, authentic and bring the energy that will never get old. Who knows? “Hackney Diamonds” could just be the beginning for the Stones in this century.