Written by / 10/20/2023 / No comments / , , , , , , , , ,

NOSTALGIC REVIEW OF NEW ROLLING STONES 'HACKNEY DIAMONDS'

 THE ROLLING STONES: HACKNEY DIAMONDS Year: 2023 Grade: A

After several uneventful new wave attempts of solo stardom, many forget or won't admit how good Mick Jagger's third album WANDERING SPIRIT was... leading to THE ROLLING STONES' brand new HACKNEY DIAMONDS, which sounds like a well-produced, finely-crafted progression of a Jagger album done correctly...

Loaded with familiar guest stars, like original bassist Bill Wyman on one track, the late Charlie Watts on two, and, well... Keith Richards and Ron Wood seem to be guesting throughout... yet without their usual gritty double-ax attack, despite Wood turning in his usual country-rock solo he puts into almost every song since joining the band (that Mick Taylor invented on STICKY FINGERS)... The best songs are as follows...

From THE ROLLING STONES Emotional Rescue promo

GET CLOSE: Sounds like Jagger's WANDERING SPIRIT hit DON'T TEAR ME UP, and is the best, catchiest song on the album, great groove and really holds together nicely... if only that sax solo were a guitar. 

MESS IT UP: Charlie Watts on drums... this was originally titled TELL THE TRUTH that Jagger teased when Watts was still alive, right before COVID... Overall, sounds a little Bee Gees, which is a compliment since there's a nice soulful catch... Also, Keith and Ronnie do some nice EMOTIONAL RESCUE-era funky guitar-work, but, again, it almost sounds too clean to actually be them... However, given their often sluggish tone from latter albums and lumbering live performances, perhaps a shiny coat is necessary... either way they sound terrifically tight and funky here.

Stones Rhythm giants Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman in the Soho Pop Era

ANGRY: Sparse, intentionally pedestrian rudimentary single that gets somewhat better each time, and is the Keithiest entry, sounding like a retro-raw throwback from their previous (18-years ago) album A BIGGER BANG.

LIVE BY THE SWORD: Original rhythm-section Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman reunite (that is, Bill adds bass to a posthumous Charlie track), but their collective magic isn't entirely apparent as the song is grungy yet also a tad over-produced... The guitar solo sounds like Keith (difficult to tell at this point), and it's a pretty decent song overall, towing the line of an attempted hit single and a rock/blues filler. 

Keith Richards' VOODOO LOUNGE artwork for THE STONES

WHOLE WIDE WORLD: Safe, catchy stadium-rock number, like I GO WILD from 1994's VOODOO LOUNGE... which was the first time producers deliberately tried bringing the Classic Stones Sound back (aka the Mick Taylor era), which this album attempts now and again... plus there's a nice Wood solo.

DRIVING ME TOO HARD: Similar to the VOODOO track BABY BREAK IT DOWN, which was homage to the early-to-mid seventies, making this a throwback of a throwback with a slow-burn groove that, like the EXILE ON MAIN STREET hit TUMBLING DICE, is neither fast or slow.

Founding Stones member Brian Jones with Beatles Paul McCartney

BITE MY HEAD OFF: An overly-ferocious rocker novelty with Paul McCartney jamming a fuzz bass making like a guitar (followed by a nifty Ron Wood scorcher). Sounds like Jagger and Dave Grohl's anti-lockdown track EAZY SLEAZY.

ROLLING STONES BLUES: The band doing the Muddy Waters' song that founding guitarist Brian Jones named the band after... but it sounds like something from the popular yet contrived BLUE AND LONESOME; more a delta blues tribute than the natural blues they started their careers with... when they weren't trying so hard to sound bluesy.

Keith Richards in their peak touring era from 1972

TELL ME STRAIGHT: The one Keith song. More slow and soulful like the EMOTIONAL RESCUE finale ALL ABOUT YOU than the rocking of HAPPY. Not a bad thing, but doesn't stick with you for very long.

DREAMY SKIES: The token country song, with Mick doing his over-pronouncing-the-words thing. Another WANDERING SPIRIT-sounding track... like EVENING GOWN.

Mick Jagger's back-to-Classic-Rock solo album WANDERING SPIRIT

Meanwhile, the few songs that don't really work are DEPENDING ON YOU, a melodramatic BLINDED BY RAINBOWS (VOODOO LOUNGE) soft ballad that's far too weak to be the third track... 

And the Lady Gaga Gospel homage SWEET SOUNDS OF HEAVEN is just too long and droning, sounding like another Jagger solo track but from GODDESS IN THE DOORWAY instead of WANDERING SPIRIT.

Rolling Stones UNDERCOVER

Overall, a surprisingly good album... all tracks reaching a particular mark that works... However, it's NOT the best Stones since SOME GIRLS, as many professional and unprofessional reviewers have claimed: unless everyone has TATTOO YOU amnesia at this point...

If anything, HACKNEY DIAMONDS is their most unique and satisfying since 1983's underrated UNDERCOVER: when The Stones were still an actual working-band, and not just a billion-dollar nostalgia act garnering hefty ticket prices while reluctantly fulfilling contractual obligations.  

Mick Jagger and apparent boyfriend Ron Wood with The Stones during the Dirty Work era
Whenever The Classic Stones Sound is reused for any new Stones it sounds like the Mick Taylor Era
Personal favorite Stones Album December's Children when the blues got groovy
Brian Jones was the man who discovered and named THE ROLLING STONES
Mick Taylor the greatest technical guitarist and who brought The Stones into the Guitar Virtuoso era
The Trident Mixes the greatest Stones bootleg beginning their mightiest era

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