Release date:
Oct 20, 2023

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Track list

Disc 1


1.

Angry

3:46 • Studio version


2.

Get Close

Studio version


3.

Depending On You

Studio version


4.

Bite My Head Off

Written by Mick Jagger, Keith Richards

3:31 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Bass
Ronnie Wood :
Backing vocals, Guitar
Mick Jagger :
Backing vocals, Guitar, Lead vocals
Keith Richards :
Backing vocals, Guitar
Andrew Watt :
Backing vocals, Percussion
Steve Jordan :
Drums
Matt Clifford :
Piano

Session Recording:
November 2022 ?
Studio :
Henson Recording Studios, Los Angeles, USA

5.

Whole Wide World

Studio version


6.

Dreamy Skies

Studio version


7.

Mess It Up

Studio version


8.

Live By The Sword

Studio version


9.

Driving Me Too Hard

Studio version


10.

Tell Me Straight

Studio version


11.

Sweet Sounds Of Heaven

Studio version


12.

Rolling Stone Blues

Studio version

About

I was telling Paul we needed someone to kick us up the fucking arse, and he said, ‘I’m working with this young boy, he’s got a lot of front. We’re doing some really adventurous tracks together. You try him.’

Ronnie Wood, explaining Paul McCartney suggested Andrew Watt as producer for “Hackney Diamonds” – From mojo4music.com, October 13, 2023

From Wikipedia:

Hackney Diamonds is the 24th British and 26th American studio album by British rock band the Rolling Stones, set for release on 20 October 2023 on Polydor. The album features guest stars Elton John, Lady Gaga, Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, and Bill Wyman. It is the first studio album of original material by the band since A Bigger Bang (2005) and the band’s first following the death of drummer Charlie Watts in 2021, though he contributed to select tracks before his death. Critics have given the album positive reviews.

Recording

“We had a lot of material recorded, but we weren’t very excited with the results. Some of the songs were okay, but they weren’t great. [Guitarist Keith Richards and I] said, ‘We’re going to work harder and we’re going to set a deadline.’ And that’s when the magic started to happen. We recorded the whole thing in three or four weeks. We wanted to make the record fast and keep ourselves excited the whole time. And I think we achieved our goal.”

Vocalist Mick Jagger on recording Hackney Diamonds

The Rolling Stones last released a studio album in 2016 with the blues covers album Blue & Lonesome, which began with new material recorded with Don Was but stalled. Some mitigating factors identified by guitarist Keith Richards include vocalist Mick Jagger’s enthusiasm for making new music and Richards being forced to adapt his playing style due to arthritis. The band’s last album of original material was A Bigger Bang in 2005, but they continued to release occasional tracks, such as “Doom and Gloom” and “One More Shot” for the compilation GRRR! in 2012 and the 2020 single “Living in a Ghost Town”. The group again recorded sessions for a new album starting in 2020, but these were interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Paul McCartney suggested that the band look to Andrew Watt to continue their album and Jagger agreed, appreciating Watt’s approach to producing new music from long-time acts. Studio work in 2021 yielded several completed songs and further recordings in late 2022 and early 2023 with Watt included McCartney playing bass guitar on two new Stones songs. Jagger was frustrated with the slow processing of recording and proposed to Richards after their touring ended in August 2022 that they would choose 14 February 2023 as a due date for recording. Altogether, principal recording was about four weeks, followed by two weeks of overdubs, and Jagger’s vocals recorded separately. In June 2023, former bassist Bill Wyman announced that he had recorded with the band for the first time in 30 years and additional recordings with Elton John are included on the release. The album includes 2019 sessions that have the last studio work by Charlie Watts and the band’s first studio work with drummer Steve Jordan. Final recording for the album began in December 2022, with 23 total tracks finished in January 2023 and mixing done in late February or early March. At the end, the band had enough material for a follow-up album, which vocalist Mick Jagger estimated was 75% done by the time that Hackney Diamonds was released. The recording process was captured by a documentary crew for a television special.

The album’s name is London slang for the shattered glass left behind after burglars have smashed a window to break in, Hackney being an inner-city area of London associated with a high crime rate.

Promotion and release

Hackney Diamonds has been promoted with an extensive, worldwide advertising campaign coordinated by Universal Music Enterprises in London. On 17 August 2023, an advertisement appeared in the Hackney Gazette teasing the album, referencing several Rolling Stones song titles and displaying their tongue logo. On 22 August, social media profiles posted new artwork by Paulina Almira and Universal Music Group debuted a website to promote the release, on which a countdown appeared and solicited questions for the band. The group posted links to this site on their social media accounts on 29 August and showed photos of their lip logo projected on various monuments around the world. These projections continued to 2 September, when the band previewed a short snippet of “Angry” on the website dontgetangrywithme.com, which experienced instability and frequent errors that some interpreted as being intentional.

On 4 September, the album was officially announced, as were the plans for a livestream with television host Jimmy Fallon where more information would be revealed and the lead single would be premiered. On 6 September, the livestream was broadcast on the Rolling Stones’ official YouTube channel while being filmed at the Hackney Empire Theatre in London. Fallon interviewed the band, who revealed the album’s track list and release date, as well as alluding to various guest musicians, and answered questions sent in from fans. The music video for “Angry” premiered after the interview concluded, which features actress Sydney Sweeney being driven through Los Angeles in a red convertible, with the band members singing to her from large billboards along the way.

“Sweet Sounds of Heaven” was teased by the band via an Instagram post on 25 September, 2023, which played a short snippet of the track and revealed its release date. In early October, a fashion line designed by Paul Smith was announced that would promote the album and retail stores in London and Tokyo opened to sell Rolling Stones merchandise ahead of the album.

Shortly after the newspaper advertisement implying this album release, 12 songs were registered to the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers under the names of Jagger–Richards, with three tracks co-written by Andrew Watt. The final track listing was released on 6 September and included “Rolling Stone Blues”, a Muddy Waters song that gave their band their name; they had never covered it previously on a release and this was the sole recording for this album recorded to tape.

The limited edition vinyl LP cover art has a mass of eyeballs and tongues and a retailer exclusive edition has the cracked diamond heart surrounded by red limbs. Additional covers are made for every Major League Baseball team, featuring the tongue and lips logo in each team’s colors and a limited edition by KidSuper featuring the lips logo with red fingerprints around it. The day before the album release, FC Barcelona announced a football kit designed to promote it.

Critical reception

Editors at AnyDecentMusic? aggregated the scores from seven outlets and rated this release an 8.2 out of 10. According to the review aggregator Metacritic, Hackney Diamonds received “universal acclaim” based on a weighted average score of 87 out of 100 from eight critic reviews. Several critics have declared this the band’s best album in decades.

At The Arts Desk, Tim Cumming gave this album 5 out of 5 stars, for being “45 concentrated minutes of peak-level Rolling Stones, a bravura performance benefiting from the level of focus and detail the band, under the producer’s baton of Andrew Watts, bring to it” and stating that “it feels like, for the first time in a long time, Mick and Keith are on the same mission”. Alan Woodhouse of The Big Issue wrote that “the impression this record gives is of a strident sense of purpose” and that the inclusion of the Muddy Waters cover could serve to bring the band’s career full circle. Writing for Classic Rock, Ian Fortnam gave this release 4.5 out of 5 stars, continuing that the band “haven’t delivered an album this quintessentially Stonesy in 40 years” and this one “only ever leaves the listener hungry for more”. Neil McCormick of The Daily Telegraph gave this album 5 out of 5 stars, characterizing it as “a raucous and dirty modern rock classic” and that the band is as good as they were in the 1970s. Writing for Evening Standard, Martin Robinson called this an “excellent set of songs has a certain down and dirty rage that feels perfect right now” that also has praiseworthy ballads; he scored it 4 out of 5 stars. Ludovic Hunter-Tilney of The Financial Times scored this release 4 out of 5 stars, writing that “against the run of expectation, the shift from stadium to studio has been accomplished”. Alexis Petridis of The Guardian gave this album 4 out of 5 stars and crediting Andrew Watt by writing that the music “suggest the presence of someone who knows how to make contemporary hits, and there’s a light modern sheen to the production that prevents it sounding like a determined recreation of the Stones’ past”. In The Independent, Mark Beaumont scored Hackney Diamonds 4 out of 5 stars, opining that the band’s guitarists sound young and vital and the combination of older pop musician guest stars makes this release have “a sense of career closure”.

In Mojo, James McNair gave Hackney Diamonds 4 out of 5 stars, calling it “a self-aware, historically mindful party”. NME‘s Alex Flood also gave this album 4 out of 5 stars, , calling it “an absolute barnstormer” that is “very enjoyable”. At musicOMH, Hackney Diamonds received 4.5 out of 5 stars and John Murphy called it and “astonishingly fresh album” that “sounds like classic Stones without ever sounding like a parody of themselves”. The Scotsman‘s Fiona Shepherd gave 4 out of 5 stars to this album, stating that the “Stones still excel in their field”. Prior to its announcement, Will Hodgkinson, chief rock and pop critic for The Times, received early access to the entire album. Hodgkinson noted that Hackney Diamonds “sound[s] like a summation of all the things that make the Stones great” and is “unquestionably the Stones’ best [album] since” Some Girls (1978). He later posted a second review close to the release date and gave Hackney Diamonds 5 out of 5 stars, calling it “a joy from beginning to end because it reminds us of the things we love about the Stones while still sounding like it belongs to the modern age”.

In AARP: The Magazine, Edna Gundersen called this the best Rolling Stones album since 1981’s Tattoo You, in part due to the guest stars. Jocelyn Noveck of the Associated Press emphasized that this album continues the partying vibes of Stones music. Jonah Kreuger of Consequence of Sound considers this the third in a series of albums that return to the band’s blues rock roots with music that is “solid, if inessential”, he also criticizes the “uncanny sleekness” of the recording and recommends that the band’s music would sound better with less studio polish, but also notes that there is “genuine excitement on a few choice cuts”. In Hot Press, Pat Carty gave a lengthy review, comparing this work to several of the band’s previous albums, summing up, “And are the greatest rock n’ roll band in the world still in there on Hackney Diamonds? Yes, against all sensible bets, they are. Is this the best Rolling Stones record since…? It might be the best one since Keith Richards’ Talk Is Cheap, the greatest Rolling Stones record that never was, and that’s something. The old gods are with us still.” Writing for Irish Examiner, Ed Power called this “a hugely enjoyable late-career rebound from Mick Jagger and the gang” and “a loud, lush and lusty reminder that, at full tilt, nobody shakes the foundations like the Stones” that he gave 4 out of 5 stars. Irish Times‘ Tony Clayton-Lea rated this work 4 out of 5 stars, writing that the music quality is high, particularly for being so deep into the band’s career, but critiquing that “a few songs here are run of the mill”.

No Depression‘s Michael Elliott called the star of the album vocalist Mick Jagger, who “sneers, growls, and draws out syllables to make his point”. David Browne of Rolling Stone stated that this is an album worthy of multiple listens and praised Steve Jordan’s drumming as well as the fact that the band has relevant lyrics without “the late-in-life introspection heard on recent records by some of the Stones’ peers”. Writing for RTÉ, Alan Corr gave this album 4 out of 5 stars, ensuring that this is “no novelty retread” and is their best album in decades. Chris DeVille of Stereogum called this album a good and “genuinely enjoyable” release. Writing for Ultimate Classic Rock, Michael Gallucci stated that due to the success of Blue & Lonesome, the band have “both nothing and, for the first time in decades, something to prove” on this album, continuing that “they step up for the occasion, delivering their most committed set of songs and performances in years”. In the Wall Street Journal, Mark Richardson called this release “genuinely fresh” and praised the innovative mixing and sound that separates this from previous Stones albums.

Days before this album’s release, Spin published a ranking of the Stones’ studio albums, placing it at 17 out of 24.


We’d normally expect Beatles product to come out toward the end of the year, so why was [Now And Then] originally going to be [released in April 2023]? Was there a reason?

Clyde: I think with Paul and Ringo, we got the impression they’d like to see it out sooner than later. You know, they are now two guys in their eighties, and they like things to happen quickly. But not quickly and badly. You know what I mean? Also, we were aware there was a Stones release coming around, and what we didn’t want to do is go very close to their release and it become just a lazy media going “Oh, it’s the Beatles versus the Stones again.” You know, I think we’ve gone way past that era (of perceived competition) now, but it certainly made sense to keep a separation between the two releases. [In the end, the Stones’ album, “Hackney Diamonds,” got delayed, too, and came out two weeks before “Now and Then.”]

Jonathan Clyde – From Apple Corps – Interview with Variety, November 22, 2023

From The Rolling Stones announce ‘Hackney Diamonds,’ their first album in 18 years : NPR – Ronnie Wood, from left, Mick Jagger, and Keith Richards pose for photographers at the press conference for the launch of the new Rolling Stones album ‘Hackney Diamonds’ on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2023 in London. (Scott Garfitt/Invision/AP)
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