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Saturday June 15th

‘Hackney Diamonds’: a powerful piece of modern rock ‘n’ roll

<p><em>“Hackney Diamonds” has all you would expect: gritty guitars, delicate piano and bluesy harmonica. (Photo courtesy of </em><a href="" target=""><em>Apple Music</em></a><em>)</em></p>

“Hackney Diamonds” has all you would expect: gritty guitars, delicate piano and bluesy harmonica. (Photo courtesy of Apple Music)

By Liam Simonelli
Editorial Cartoonist

In 2005, The Rolling Stones released their last studio album containing original material for what would turn out to be 18 years. As the years piled on, fans increasingly asked, “what’s next?” Well, “Hackney Diamonds” is here, and it doesn’t fall short. 

From beginning to end, the sound is signature Stones. It has all you would expect: gritty guitars, delicate piano and bluesy harmonica. 

Frontman and singer Mick Jagger dominates song after song with piercing, emotional vocals and that trademark rasp. His long-time writing partner, guitarist Keith Richards, lays down some catchy riffs that will make air guitarists out of the most static of listeners. With guest appearances by Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Lady Gaga and others, it’s a don’t-miss get together of all-stars.

Drummer Steve Jordan takes on the near-impossible task of replacing the late Charlie Watts on drums. With the exceptions of “Mess It Up” and “Live By the Sword” (recorded by Watts in 2019), Jordan drives the band with his skillful chops. He fills some mighty-big shoes quite well.

The album opens with the heavy, anthem-like “Angry,” which the album's attitude, drive and punch summed up in one song. However, the two tracks that follow break the momentum “Angry” builds up. 

Track four revs things back up. “Bite My Head Off” is a delightfully profane answer to a lover’s mistreatment. After a minute in, you may be bound to put this song on repeat. As a big cherry on top, the one and only Paul McCartney provides bass. At about the 2 ½-minute mark, Jagger gives his fellow legend the command, “C’mon, Paul, let’s hear some bass.”

Things roll along at the same pace as we reach “Mess It Up,” a more rational, less profane version of “Bite My Head Off.” It’s another 4-minute answer to a troublesome lover that will leave you tapping your foot and mouthing Jagger’s pleas for personal peace and solitude. 

The boys keep the heat toward the album’s end. On “Tell Me Straight,” Richards delivers a break from Jagger’s attitude to give us some sentimental, melancholy vocals. 

Following the track is the highlight of the album, “Sweet Sounds of Heaven.” Lady Gaga pairs with Jagger to deliver an emotional, gospel-inspired seven minute piece. Stevie Wonder works his magic on piano as well. The album eases to a conclusion with “Rolling Stones Blues,” a cover of Muddy Waters’ 1950 blues track, “Rollin’ Stone.”

The Rolling Stones, currently in their 62nd year as a band, deliver the goods with an album that is widely regarded as their best in decades. The tracks invite us to a party of legends and icons you won’t want to miss. 

And through the highs and lows of “Hackney Diamonds,” they remain true to themselves and their distinctive style. Largely because of this, the band gives a worthwhile listen to its fans and keeps the band’s foot firmly planted in the mainstream.

The question that lies in the minds of many fans is an obvious one: “Is this the last Stones album?” That question has yet to be answered. If “Hackney Diamonds” is the last, I can only say that it will serve as a strong statement that ends the hard-fought, illustrious band that is the Rolling Stones.


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