You don't know when it's your time in the music industry. The Rolling Stones have outlasted nearly every rock band. Their latest album, Hackney Diamonds, is their first (of original music) in nearly two decades. Is it their best work? No. But if this is their farewell, it's A Bigger Bang than their last album.

Hackney Diamonds review

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It is insane to think about the Rolling Stones' longevity. Like them or not, the Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Ronnie Wood-led group has been at it for six decades. Only Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney are still putting out albums from that era of rock music.

Hackney Diamonds brings the Stones back to basics, whilst offering a diverse range of genres. You have the classic 70s rockers like “Angry” and “Mess It Up” (which slightly resembles “Start Me Up”), blues with “Rolling Stone Blues,” and a ballad with their Lady Gaga collaboration, “Sweet Sounds Of Heaven.” There's even remnants of Clarence Clemons' saxophone playing on “Get Close.”  This is a more diverse album than their previous album, A Bigger Bang. That album may have more classic rockers, but Hackney Diamonds never feels one-note.

The collaborations

Oh, and there are some collaborations that bring Hackney Diamonds together. Appearances from the likes of McCartney, Elton John, Lady Gaga, and Stevie Wonder are spread out throughout the album.

Lady Gaga's song, “Sweet Sounds Of Heaven,” brings out Jagger's best vocal performance in years. It's far more melodic than his usual stuff, and Stevie Wonder's piano playing adds so much soul to the song. Lady Gaga initially comes in as a backing vocalist before matching Jagger's intensity as the song reaches its crescendo. It's nearly a spiritual experience — especially when Jagger lets Lady Gaga take the spotlight toward the song's outro.

Speaking of McCartney, who features on “Bite My Head Off,” the Keith Richards-led “Tell Me Straight” almost borrows the first few notes from “Listen to What the Man Said.” The McCartney collaboration brings rivals the Beatles and the Rolling Stones together. McCartney's bass part doesn't require much from him, and frankly, it's buried under the crunch guitar and heavy drums. It's still a mind-blowing collaboration that's awesome to hear.

They're not spring chickens

Let's face it — the Rolling Stones are no spring chickens. If you watched Mick Jagger perform in 2023, it may suggest otherwise. But the band seems aware of their age and limitations that come with it. Aside from some noticeable pitch-correction on “Whole Wide World,” Jagger sounds pretty good throughout Hackney Diamonds.

It's a testament to the care he's taken of his voice. Jagger's evolved as his voice grew deeper, but he still sounds like the Mick Jagger of old.

The album ends by bringing the Rolling Stones back to their roots: blues. The song, which is aptly titled “Rolling Stone Blues,” is the Stones at their most stripped-down.

The standout tracks

These songs are the standouts from Hackney Diamonds:

  • “Angry”
  • “Depending on You”
  • “Sweet Sounds Of Heaven”
  • “Bite My Head Off”

Should you listen to Hackney Diamonds?

If this is the end, Hackney Diamonds is a great farewell for the Rolling Stones. Knowing how long it took to get this album, there are no guarantees that another album will be made.

That makes Hackney Diamonds even more of an emotional listen. It's easy to take bands like the Rolling Stones for granted, but this album serves as a reminder of their icon status.

Grade: B

Hackney Diamonds is out now.