Rock

Why ‘Hackney Diamonds’ Is the Best Rolling Stones Album Since 1981

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The title of “The World’s Greatest Rock ’n’ Roll Band” remains firmly intact, with no signs of it slipping away. After an astonishing six decades of delivering blues-infused hard rock, the Rolling Stones are injecting fresh life into the genre with their latest offering, “Hackney Diamonds,” a dazzling return to their classic sound.

This iconic band’s first original album since 2005’s “A Bigger Bang” and their best since 1981’s “Tattoo You” is set to grace our ears on Oct. 20, courtesy of Polydor Records. For those who may have questioned whether the Stones could still capture the magic of their past, “Hackney Diamonds” will be a delightful revelation. It crackles with that well-known grit, worn grandeur, and gritty guitar riffs that have defined their legacy. In a word, “Hackney Diamonds” is sensational.

The album’s title is a nod to British slang for the fragments of glass left behind when someone shatters a windshield or window. Other potential titles, like “Hit and Run” and “Smash and Grab,” could just as easily fit the album’s audacious demeanor and joyful tumult.

The extended wait for “Hackney Diamonds” can be attributed to the band’s hectic touring schedule, the COVID-19 lockdown, and, as Mick Jagger candidly admitted at a recent press event in London hosted by Jimmy Fallon, perhaps a touch of laziness.

The group entered the studio in December of last year, and Jagger set a Valentine’s Day deadline, a commitment they honored. Mick Jagger mentioned, “We quickly recorded 23 tracks, completed them in January, and wrapped up the mixing in February,” adding that this creative burst not only birthed “Hackney” but also 75 percent of a follow-up record.

The core trio of Jagger, aged 80, along with guitar legends Keith Richards, 79, and Ronnie Wood, 76, is now joined by Matt Clifford on keyboards, Darryl Jones, 61, on bass, and the new drummer Steve Jordan, 66, handpicked by the late Charlie Watts as his successor.

Charlie Watts, who tragically passed away in 2021 from cancer, and original bassist Bill Wyman, 86, who departed the band in 1993, both make appearances on tracks recorded back in 2019.

The album received invaluable production guidance from Andrew Watt, a devoted follower of the Stones and the Grammy producer of the year in 2021. He pushed for electrifying synergy, resulting in a 12-track collection that showcases the Stones’ most collaborative effort in decades, performed with the same gusto and resilience that characterized their earliest hits.

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