In-Review: Hackney Diamonds, 12 tracks add to Rolling Stones goodness

by Jim Runyan
Columnist
The new Rolling Stones album was released on October 20 th and it is truly a love letter to Stones fans everywhere. Hackney Diamonds is the 26th Rolling Stones album released in the United States and the first album of original material released by the band in 18 years.

A full-fledged marketing blitz ushered in the release. They really checked all the boxes on this one:

  1. Worldwide live album announcement with Jimmy Fallon (check);
  2. Star-studded musical collaborations (check);
  3. Two successful singles released in the weeks leading up to the release (check);
  4. Band members appearing on talk shows, Saturday Night Live, and making themselves available for multiple interviews (check);
  5. A myriad of special album colors and cover versions (check):
  6. Teaming up with Major League Baseball with special album art for each MLB team (check);
  7. Surprise gig at an intimate New York hotspot on the eve of the release (check).

You can almost hear Mick Jagger in a marketing meeting asking, “What else can we do?”

Ok, so what? Is the music any good? Yes, it is. It is exceptionally good in fact.

The Stones have been around so long that their catalog of music includes many genres of music. There’s Rock and Roll, of course, but you will also find blues, gospel, reggae, psychedelic, punk, country, pop, R&B, and yes, even disco.

A great Rolling Stones album typically has a mix of several of these elements and this one does not disappoint. There are happy love songs and angry love songs, soaring gospel voices, punk-tinged rock and rollers, classic blues, harmonicas, horns, and more.

You know Keith Richards is going to sing a song with his raspy and gravelly voice. He does, and it’s wonderful.

You know Ronnie Wood is going to add some Steel Guitar twang to at least one song. He does, and it’s wonderful.

You know Mick Jagger will sing his heart out. He does, and it’s wonderful.

In conjunction with Mick, Keith, and Ronnie, there is some serious talent on this album. Paul McCartney rips one of the coolest (albeit short) bass solos you will ever hear and Stevie Wonder and Lady Gaga lend their talents to the instant gospel classic, Sweet Sounds of Heaven. Elton John tickles the ivories on Live by The Sword - does that make three knights on this album?.

Ex-band member Bill Wyman lends some bass and even the beloved Charlie Watts adds drums, may he rest in peace.

All that being said, I’m coming back to Ronnie and Keith. The Rolling Stones have always had great guitar tracks and this album is full of them. Ronnie and Keith really deliver here and their guitar weaving and riffs are superb. From the opening chords of Angry to the closing blues of Rolling Stone Blues, guitar fans will be happy and satisfied.

Hackney Diamonds track list:

1. Angry
2. Get Close
3. Depending on You
4. Bite My Head Off
5. Whole Wide World
6. Dreamy Skies
7. Mess It Up
8. Live by the Sword
9. Driving Me Too Hard
10. Tell Me Straight
11. Sweet Sounds of Heaven
12. Rolling Stone Blues (Muddy Waters Cover)

This all adds up to approximately 48 minutes of Rolling Stones goodness.

If you’re looking for something new and fresh from a band that’s been around for over sixty years, go ahead and give this one a spin, preferably with headphones on to really soak it all in. There’s a lot going on here and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.


Jim Runyan is an avid tennis player, BBQ enthusiast and dart player. He enjoys craft beers and writing fiction and is the author of Ravage the Moon and Other Short Stories available on Amazon.

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