The Rolling Stones have made a triumphant return, accompanied by some illustrious companions.
Their latest album, “Hackney Diamonds,” marks their first collection of new songs in 18 years and boasts guest appearances from the likes of Lady Gaga, Paul McCartney, and Stevie Wonder. Significantly, the album also includes the drumming of Charlie Watts, the steadfast Stones drummer who sadly passed away in 2021 after nearly six decades with the band. His recorded drumming from 2019 graces two of the album’s twelve tracks, with Steve Jordan taking up the sticks for the rest.
Watts’ absence cast a poignant shadow over the excitement of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Ronnie Wood, the surviving members of the Stones, as they unveiled the new album in Hackney, East London, and announced its release date: October 20.
Speaking about Watts, Richards expressed, “Of course, he’s missed incredibly. But thanks to Charlie, we have Steve Jordan, who was his recommendation if anything should happen to him.”
According to AP – The album’s revelation unfolded with the iconic Stones flair, following a cryptic teaser campaign where a glitzy, jagged version of their iconic mouth and tongue logo was projected onto landmarks in cities worldwide, including New York, London, and Paris.
Dedicated fans braved a heatwave outside the Hackney Empire, where the band members were interviewed onstage by “The Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon in front of a sweltering audience of journalists and a global online viewership.
Inside the ornate former Edwardian musical hall, where legends like Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel once performed, the band, comprising Jagger (80), Richards (79), and Wood (76), shared details about their first studio album of new songs since “A Bigger Bang” in 2005. They had released a set of blues covers titled “Blue & Lonesome” in 2016.
The lead single, “Angry,” hints at a fiery tone, but Jagger assured that not all the songs are filled with fury; the album also features “love songs, ballads, and country-inspired sounds.”
Recorded between December and January at studios around the globe, the album sees the Stones collaborating with Grammy-winning producer Andrew Watt, who played a key role in assembling the star-studded guest list, which also includes former Stone Bill Wyman.
Jagger revealed that Lady Gaga, featured on “Sweet Sound of Heaven,” was recording in a neighboring studio while the Stones were in Los Angeles and ended up on the album after a spontaneous collaboration.
The band screened the video for “Angry,” which captures the classic mid-tempo crunchiness of the Stones’ sound, featuring “Euphoria” star Sydney Sweeney cruising LA’s Sunset Boulevard in a red convertible, passing billboards featuring the Stones from different eras.
As for why the band waited nearly two decades between albums, Richards attributed the timing to Jagger’s readiness to sing. He stated that once they entered the studio, the songs flowed with “energy and urgency.”
Jagger humorously credited the long gap between albums to laziness but emphasized their genuine affection for the new record. He said, “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.”
“Hackney Diamonds” is a colloquial term for shattered glass, and the band playfully teased fans with an advertisement in the local Hackney Gazette newspaper for a fictional glass repair business: “When you say gimme shelter, we’ll fix your shattered windows.”
When it comes to Sweeney, how did she feel? Well, great! She sated at a press conference: “I freaked out, called my family and brought my mum,” she said of getting the call to appear. “This is the biggest thing ever.”
Richards revealed that the title emerged from brainstorming ideas at the table, moving from “Hit and Run” to “Smash and Grab” before settling on “Hackney Diamonds.” It resonated with the band as they consider themselves a quintessential London band, even though none of the members hails from Hackney.
Among the many fans eager to catch a glimpse of the band was Taric Fioravanti from São Paulo, Brazil, who expressed his admiration, particularly for Keith Richards, and marveled at the band’s continued creativity at the age of 80.
Formed in 1962, the Stones show no signs of retirement, having embarked on a 60th-anniversary tour of Europe in 2022, with a penciled-in American tour for the next year. For them, retirement is simply “impossible,” as Wood firmly stated, emphasizing the enduring spirit of playing on.
Sydney Sweeney in the new music video for ‘ANGRY’ by The Rolling Stones. pic.twitter.com/sGIwVrbYZy
— Sydney Sweeney fans (@SSydneyBest) September 6, 2023