HACKNEY DIAMONDS

Pre-production:
December 3-7, 2015: John Henry's Studios, London, England
December 9-11, 2015: British Grove Studios, London, England
June 13-26, 2016: British Grove Studios, London, England

Mid-February 2017: Germano Studios, New York City, USA

May 30-June 9, 2017: British Grove Studios, London, England

Late June 2017: Germano Studios, New York City, USA
Late February-early March 2018: unidentified studio, New York City, USA
September 20-21, 2018: Germano Studios, New York City, USA
Early December 2018: Twin Studios, Paris, France
April-August 2020: La Fourchette (Mick Jagger's home studio), Pocť sur Cisse, France (vocal overdubs)
Mid-to-late February 2022: GeeJam Studios, Portland, Jamaica

Recorded:
Late January-February 20, 2019: Henson Recording Studios, Los Angeles, USA
Early May 2019: Germano Studios, New York City, USA

November 2019: unidentified studios, London, England & Los Angeles, USA
September 29-October 9, 2022: Electric Lady Studios, New York City, USA
c. October 21-c. December 9, 2022: Henson Recording Studios, Los Angeles, USA
Mid-to-late December 2022: Metropolis Studios, London, England 
January 2023: Sanctuary Studios, Albany, Bahamas

Mixed:
Early February-early March 2023: MixStar Studios, Virginia Beach, USA

Producer: Andrew Watt
Chief engineers: Paul Lamalfa & Marco Sonzini
Mixer: Serban Ghenea
Release date: October 2023
Original label: Polydor Records

 

Contributing musicians: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ron Wood, Steve Jordan, Matt Clifford, Andrew Watt, Charlie Watts, Elton John, Benmont Tench, James King, Karlos Edwards, Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Lady Gaga, Ronnie Blake, David Campbell (arranger), Alyssa Park, Charlie Bisharat, Jennifer Takamatsu, Michele Richards, Philip Vaiman, Sara Perkins, Songa Lee, Tereza Stanislav, Luke Maurer, Tom Lea, Jacob Braun, Paula Hochhalter.
 

Angry
Get Close

Depending on You

Bite My Head Off
Whole Wide World
Dreamy Skies
Mess It Up
Live by the Sword

Driving Me Too Hard

Tell Me Straight
Sweet Sounds of Heaven
Rolling Stone Blues
 
 


 


THE TITLE


It got called Hackney Diamonds because I think we were flinging ideas around for titles. We went from "Hit & Run", "Smash & Grab" and (laughs) somehow between that we came up with Hackney Diamonds, which is like a variation of both  - and also it's a London band, you know.

- Keith Richards, September 2023

 
Yeah (it's a type of slang). It's like when you get your windscreen broken on Saturday night in Hackney all around... and all the bits go on the street (laughs). A shattered windscreen.
- Mick Jagger & Ron Wood, September 2023

   

Weíd been throwing out a lot of ideas, but no one could agree on anything. I was at the end of my tether. (A friend of mine, painter Marc Quinn, showed me photos of what he called Hackney diamonds".) Hackneyís a part of London, so "Hackney diamonds" is when you go out Saturday night, and you feel rough and ready to destroy things. You smash the windshield of a car, and it all splinters out and the glass falls on the ground, and you call that "Hackney diamonds." I sent it around to Ronnie and Keith, and Keith said, Yeah, go for it. I said, Thank God for that. Weíve got one.
- Mick Jagger, August-September 2023







 


CREATION


I. 2015-2020: The album that never was


We did sessions in London in December which suddenly gave us a whole load of stuff. In fact, the Stones have never cut so many tracks in such a short time. Now thatís not necessarily a guarantee of a good record but there is something in the works and Iíd just like to leave it up there in mystery land.
- Keith Richards, March 2016


Well we just started before Christmas so I mean I don't really - I'm not saying anything about it. And don't ask Ronnie because he'll probably tell you too much! (laughs) I can't say much but there are a lot of different things on this album.
- Mick Jagger, April 2016


We started (making a new album when we recorded the blues covers) and then we went back in recently, doing some new stuff. I don't know how long that's going to take... It's never going be the last (album) - Keith won't have it. It's never going to be the last show and never going to be the last album. Who knows? And no, we're in the middle of doing another one. But it's really Mick and Keith 'cause they write them... There'll be another studio album, I think. I'm sure Mick and Keith think there will be.

- Charlie Watts, November 2016


There's about 10 or 12 new songs that Mick actually has been cooking up, and Keith's got the odd one, too... The new material will take a while to sit and reshape.
- Ron Wood, October-November 2016


(We'll finish the album) but I don't know when, because you want it to be really good and everything... I hope it's going to be a very eclectic album. I hope some of it's going to recognizable Stones and some of it's going to be some Stones you never heard before, maybe... I was working on it quite recently. We've got a long way to go, but I think it sounds really great and I'm looking forward to carrying on with that. I hope (next year)... I think it would be nice to do new songs and go in a new direction with them. 
- Mick Jagger, October-November 2016


I've got three songs and theyĎre dynamite. I donĎt want to make any decisions about this until this record comes out, because I think it might radically change MickĎs attitude; it might change mine. I want to see the fallout from (Blue & Lonesome) before I decide whether I want to record 40 of MickĎs songs or whether he wants to sit down with me and record some songs together. ThatĎs my thing. ThatĎs my ball there. IĎve always got a few songs on the back burner and so does Mick - he writes a lot. I donĎt. I tend to concentrate on two or three really interesting riffs or ideas, rather than being prolific... We did (record new songs) but they're still being worked on.
- Keith Richards, October-November 2016


Those new songs we worked on? To be honest with you, we don't really have a handle on it yet. The clay is on the table, but it doesn't look like President Lincoln yet! I will say that for this new album, Mick has played me probably 40 songs that he has been working on, and they really run the gamut.
- Don Was, October-November 2016


It was quite fun. We did a whole week (very recently) in a little room, slowly putting a new album together.
- Keith Richards, late February 2017


I'm working on new songs now.
- Mick Jagger, late February 2017


We've been in the studio since (recording Blue & Lonesome), doing the rest of this (new) album.
- Charlie Watts, late April 2017


We've been in the studio recording. All new songs. We've been working on that, and we'll keep working on it until we get it right.
- Mick Jagger, July 2017


That's ongoing. We have some in the bag and I think now that we're getting together again we'll see what direction things are going to take.
- Ron Wood, August 2017


We're working on some new (material) now. There's a new album in the works. We're slowly putting it together. Now I want to come out with another really good original album. Thatís what Iím working onÖ So now Iím trying to pick up the threads on what we were doing before the blues album.
- Keith Richards, November 2017


Itís going good. Just this afternoon Iím going to listen to some of the multi-tracks of that and weíve done a lot of work on it... I haven't heard it for a while. I'm going to pick out the ones I really like, and Keith will be listening to it, too...  But you know thereís ways to go but weíre still working on it. It sounds good, it sounds really good.
- Mick Jagger, November 2017


When we did the blues album Blue & Lonesome, that was in the middle of the second lot of sessions for the album. Weíve done another lot since then. So weíve done three or four sets of sessions...  I donít know where we are with them to be honest. Every time we go in to the studio I think, Well that was the one. But itís whether theyíre happy with it and I donít know if they are yet.
- Charlie Watts, February 2018


Weíre working on it right now! Iím in the studio and Iím waiting for Mick to turn up. Weíre doing a few days knocking some songs around and playing about, so work is in progress as I speak... He'll be here in half an hour and we'll be sitting face to face, making music, like always.
- Keith Richards, February-March 2018


Mick and I got together for a few days a month or so ago in the studio, just playing around. It was great, man. We knocked out a few songs together with Don Was. Weíre just working things through. We had a great time ó got some nice stuff out of it.
- Keith Richards, November 2018


(Writing new songs is) going good. Iíve got lots of stuff. Iím doing some more writing this week. And Iím always, like, messing around. I enjoy the writing process a lot. I mean, you always think the last thing you wrote is really wonderful, and sometimes theyíre really not (laughs). But itís really fun doing it, and itís really enjoyable doing new things.
- Mick Jagger, November-December 2018


(W)eíve been hacking songs into shape. Iím going to go off to Paris and see Mick next week and see what his latest thoughts are after heís got together with Keith. Itís an ongoing thing of comparing what is on the cooker at the moment and some ideas weíve had for years that we may embellish upon. Itís quite interesting building this new album. You canít say thereís a title for it. The tracks havenít actually been chosen yet... Mick and Keith wanted to make sure the songs (we've done) were really good, so weíve sort of taken a step back again, have a listen: put more into the pot.
- Ron Wood, November 2018


Mick and I get together in this studio for a couple of weeks throughout the year... (I)t's all in the early stages, but there's some interesting stuff coming out that isn't necessarily... it ain't the Stones trying to be the Stones. It's the Stones still trying to be! (laughs)
- Keith Richards, December 2018


Sometimes itís not as much writing as listening to whatís been written and figuring it out, and honing and all kinds of stuff... (laughs) Itís very boring. Itís like a carpentry shop... At the moment the Stones are going into the studio next week and so I'm preparing for that, for a few days, to see what we've got. 'Cause we've been working away for - over the year (2018) Mick and I have been together several times. And a big sound that we've put together, quite an accumulation of stuff, so we're going to take it in the studio with the best of the boys and see what happens... We're doing what we feel we're good at, and in order to be heard. I don't think there should be any time limit on that.
- Keith Richards, January 2019


I canít really describe the album because we havenít made the choices yet. Keith and Mick have been writing together, itís all original material and itís really good.
- Don Was, April 2019


We probably have 40 (tracks), and depending on the 10 we choose to finish, the character of the album will be determined. Right now it can go any way. There's some really good stuff in there, and there's a sense that making a good album is not good enough, it's got to be great.
- Don Was, July 2019


(The work) is ongoing. Taking on shape. Many different flavors. Very diverse... It's going to be great. Once we've decided what tracks we're going to use.
- Ron Wood, late 2019


We are very happy with the way studio workís coming on, but, as you know, the Stones never make an album overnight. But aside from our busy schedule touring, weíre just fitting little studio visits in and itís shaping up nicely... (It'll be) a proper new studio album.
- Ron Wood, February 2020
 

Iíve been writing other songs, new songs, finishing off other ones so I can work a lot from home... I want to finish off some of these tracks that weíve recorded. I can do that myself at home here in this room where weíre talking now. I can work in here and I can work with other band members and finish off things that are sort of halfway. And start creating new things completely. If we canít all get together, we can send bits and people can work on them at home or in a studio or whatever... But I mean thereís obviously no substitute for being together... Yeah, (the last original Stones album) was so long ago that you want it to be really good. So I donít just want it to be, you know, a good album, I want it to be great. Yeah so Iím very hard on myself. If I write something with Keith or whatever, you know, itís going to be great, it canít just be good. So I mean weíve been recording, weíve got some really good stuff, but I mean donít hold your breath.
- Mick Jagger, April 2020, during the start of the COVID pandemic


I didnít mean to be so stingy with you guys. I didnít know it was that long. Look, thereís more coming. Okay. I mean, because we were cutting Living in a Ghost Town as part of a new album along with several other tracks. And we just pulled this one out because I mean obviously Iím not staring you in the face and you say, You got to say it now. But otherwise there is, I promise you more stuff to come...  Weíve got another five or six tracks and thereís a lot of sort of soul feel about it for some reason without anybody intending to. Iím keeping an eye on it and also Mick and I are obviously right now weíve got nothing else to do but write some more songs, right?
- Keith Richards, April 2020


Donít hold you breath! We recorded a bunch of tracks at the same time we did Living in a Ghost Town... Actually Iíve been finishing off the vocals and some other instruments on them, and doing some mixes on them. So Iím working on it... (We'll need to) get together and do a couple more sessions... Weíre not really going to get together right now. But it sounds good, what weíve already done - (it) sounds pretty good to me.
- Mick Jagger, July 2020


Living in a Ghost Town was part of a group of songs weíd recorded quite recently... Now Iím singing on some of the other ones that we did from that time period, finishing those off, too... Iím sure weíll get together soon, but Iíve got to finish off the stuff weíve already done. So that gives me an opportunity now to get that out of the way. It sounds good. Itís pretty varied. A bit of all kinds of different kinds of music in there.
- Mick Jagger, August 2020


I think we have five, six, or seven tracks weíve slowly been putting together. Right now, seeing if this (pandemic)ís going to go on, maybe we should think about putting them out in another way.
- Keith Richards, August 2020


Weíre biding our time at the moment. Iím going to do a little bit work on it with Don Was, our producer, next month. And just to prod things along a bit. But otherwise until we can all get back together again, you know, weíre like an octopus with all the legs chopped off (laughs). (Mick and I talk a)ll the timeÖ exchanging ideas. But itís a bit (laughs): Iíd rather be looking at you in the face, man! (laughs)Ö (We) phone (each other) usually. Either that or I do sometimes text and take a photograph - Iíll write it, take a photograph, and send it to him.
- Keith Richards, September 2020


Especially during the pandemic time, I wrote a lot of new songs. So I'm really interested in doing new things, as well as just re-doing these (outtakes for the Tattoo You re-release)... (W)hile I was doing that I was writing new things as well. Some things I write them and think, That'd be great for the Stones, and some things you think, I don't think that's great for the Stones (laughs). It's great but it's not for the Stones ... Without Charlie being there, it's going to be very (emotionally) difficult (finishing the album). And we've got tracks which obviously have Charlie on them. But if we do new things, we won't. So yeah, and it's very sad...We have a lot of tracks done, so when the tourís finished weíll assess where we are with that and continue.
- Mick Jagger, September-October 2021


If everything hadnít gotten closed down (because of the pandemic), we mightíve finished the damn thing... Let me put it this way: you havenít heard the last of Charlie Watts.
- Keith Richards, September-October 2021





II. 2022-2023: Starting over


Jamaica

I was working with Mick last week, and Steve (Jordan), and we came up with some... 8 or 9 new pieces of material. Which is overwhelming by our standards! (laughs) We were spending a week together putting material together and hanging around... (It) was a very productive week. We had a setup there, bass, drums, and we got a very good sound going. Jamaica is good for sound... I was playing a lot of bass so it was taking on another angle... We do have a lot of stuff with Charlie Watts still in the can, you know, 'cause have we were halfway through making an album when he died... This is one of the things that we're going to be having to sort out this year. Of course, if we want to carry on recording, weíre going to need drums (laughs) and it's going to be Steve Jordan.
- Keith Richards, March 2022


Yeah, weíve been doing some banging around. Itís been fun.
- Mick Jagger, March 2022, on the Jamaica sessions


We started out... Keith and I and Steve (Jordan) and Matt (Clifford) went to Jamaica, just to - we said We're going to mess about in the studio. And we went there and we started kicking ideas around... Jamaica was super relaxed, itís a very nice place, beautiful views, and thereís no pressure. But you still want to play and see how things go.
- Mick Jagger, September 2023


I like to write songs on my own (as well), you know. I don't live in the same continent as Keith... He doesn't do Zooms so I can't write on Zoom with him, you know. But still when we got together in Jamaica and started jamming these things around... it's the same as we always have been, you know. So it falls back into that thing where you get a bit What about this bit? ... Keith, what do you think about this chorus? Should it go here or should it go there?
- Mick Jagger, September 2023


We already had some stuff cut with Charlie. It should be coming next year.
- Keith Richards, May 2022




Interlude I: summer 2022 tour and the decision to reset


We'd been recording (before last year), we did lots of sessions but I didn't think the stuff we did was OUTSTANDINGLY WONDERFUL. It was good but was it great? And I said If we're going to do a record, it has to be great. And everyone says Yes, you're right, it has to be - of course what's great for one person is not what's great (laughs) to another. But I said It's got to be outstanding before we put it out.
- Mick Jagger, September 2023


We have so much stuff in the can... Nobody could figure out how to make an album out of it.
- Keith Richards, August-September 2023


I told Keith, I think some of the tracks are good, but most of them are not as good as they should be. I think we should give ourselves a deadline, and then we should go out and tour the album. And then he looked at me, and he said, Yeah, OK. That sounds like what we used to do.
- Mick Jagger, August-September 2023


The thing started with Mick saying, Itís important NOW that we make a record. IíVE always thought that, but I said, Well done, Mick. (laughs) So he said, We should blitz this thing and go for it. I said, If you think you have enough material that you want to sing, then Iím right there behind you. If the singer likes to sing what heís singing, thatís 90 percent of the game.
- Keith Richards, August-September 2023


Sitting around during Covid, doing nothing, Mick stocked up a lot of lyrics and ideas,. He said: Letís make a record, find a deadline, take it from A to B. Which is very un-Stones like. I was a little skeptical, but I said, OK, if you think you have enough stuff, Iím with you all the way.
- Keith Richards, September 2023


With Charlie leaving us, I think we needed to make a new mark with Steve. To reset the band was important.
- Keith Richards, August-September 2023


I think maybe because of Charlie's demise that we felt that if the Stones were going to continue, then we better make a mark of what the Stones are now.
- Keith Richards, October 2023


(Mick) hit me in the right spot. I've always wanted to record the band as soon after we get off of the road, because the band is lubricated.
- Keith Richards, October 2023


The whole thing (with trying to make the album) was getting a little bit out of hand, and I said, We need a referee. I was at dinner with Paul McCartney, and he was saying, Howís it all going? And I said we need someone to boss us around. And he said, Well, thereís this young New York boy, Andrew Watt. Give him a try.
- Ron Wood, August-September 2023


Mick called me at the end of July (2022). He basically was like I just got off the phone with Ronnie, and Ronnie told me he just had dinner with Paul McCartney and his wife, and Paul recommended a "spright young fellow named Andrew Watt" to work with. My jaw is on the floor. That doesnít sound like a real conversation. And then Mick said, I told Ronnie, thatís the producer I was thinking of showing you. How fucking cool is that?
- Andrew Watt, September 2023


This is Mick Jagger telling me about Paul McCartney talking to Ronnie Wood about me. Like, I can't fathom how this is actually real.
- Andrew Watt, September 2023


We were maybe a bit too kind of like lazy and then suddenly we said Let's put a deadline. Let's make a record and put a deadline. So Keith and I and Ronnie had this chat and we said OK, we'll make this record (by) Christmas and we're going to finish it by Valentine's Day.
- Mick Jagger, August-September 2023


I was actually really worried because nobody had any fucking urgency to do a record. Everyone seemed happy to do a tour every few years and nothing for the rest of the time. In the old days, the tour used to be a promotion for the record and the record was the thing. These days you make loads of money on the road and you donít make much money on the record, which means youíre still selling tickets even when you donít have a new album to promote. And you end up thinking They just want to hear "Paint It Black". They donít want to hear anything else. Theyíre quite happy. Who cares about our new record?í
- Mick Jagger, September 2023


I said to Keith, If we donít have a deadline, weíre never going to finish this record. So I said, The deadline is Valentineís Day 2023. And then weíre going to go out and tour it.. Otherwise, weíre just going to go into the studio, for two weeks, and come out again, and then six weeks later, weíre going to go back in there. Like, no... Thatís what we used to have to do. You know, youíve got to finish Exile on Main Street because youíve got a tour booked.
- Mick Jagger, September 2023





New York City


(After going to Jamaica and doing the tour,) then we went to New York and Ronnie joined us. And then after that we got a producer called Andy Watt, who kicked us up the ass.
- Mick Jagger, September 2023


And then we brought it on to the next (stage), we did some rehearsals, involved Ronnie, and thatís where we were introduced Andy to the equation. And Andy just bulldozed the whole thing through.
- Mick Jagger, September 2023


So Mick said, We are going to New York to start preproduction, recording some of this stuff at Electric Lady towards the end of September. I think you should come by and meet the guys. I was playing the Ohana Festival with Eddie Vedder. I had to play that show that night and get on a plane immediately to get to New York and be in the studio. So I didnít sleep that night.  
- Andrew Watt, September 2023


(My focus in New York was to make) certain things sound edgier. Some of the tunes were a little too poppy in my view.
- Steve Jordan, September 2023


(I kept quiet) because I didn't want to be the new guy saying, Hey, why don't you try this out? They would have showed me the door, right?
- Andrew Watt, September 2023, on first attending the New York sessions


(My intention was t)o observe that band working through songs, making them better, getting them tighter... I truly didnít care if I was there just for a couple of hours and left; it still would have been the coolest experience of my life. One of the first things I heard was Angry. It wasnít musically there, and, vocally, it wasnít fully fleshed out. They did a song called Tell Me Straight, which was a Keith-led song. That was a whole different experience. From there, I went out to dinner with Ron and Mick. At one point, I went to the bathroom and when I came back, Ronnie was going, Tell him, Mick. And Mick was like, Youíre the producer of the Rolling Stones. (laughs) I was so excited. After that, I started talking with Mick every day.
- Andrew Watt, September 2023


We had only been off the road for a few weeks or months, so we were all wired up, playing-wise.
- Keith Richards, August-September 2023


We're working now to finish off the studio album that we've been working on for years. So we're bringing that to a head and things are going really well now. We've just come back from New York. We're finishing off in L.A. in a couple of weeks' time. And hopefully we'll have a new package to bring, the best one of the last 15 years I reckon.
- Ron Wood, October 2022


Yeah, it took a while to get it going, but when we finished touring last year, Mick and I decided, Let's just blitz a record, man, because we were being too relaxed about it and not really putting it together. We sort of made a project of it and said, Let's get a guy that can push this thing with us. Mick found Andy Watt, and I've got to say, it was quite an experience working with him. He's very young, very enthusiastic, and we worked very fast on it once it got going. Initially, I was almost a little skeptical that we would ever finish another album, because it's been so long since we put new stuff out. For a minute, I was sort of waiting to see what would happen.
- Keith Richards, August-September 2023





Interlude II: Paris, New York


In mid-October, I flew to Paris to get with Mick. We listened to everything they recorded at Electric Lady, and we listened to stuff they recorded in Jamaica. We listened to stuff from the past that they recorded with Don. We listened to demos. We listened to over 100 songs, no question. We started picking the things that we liked and talking about things that could change.
- Andrew Watt, September 2023


(The Stones brought me) 60, 70, 80 songs.
- Andrew Watt, September 2023


In Paris, there was a drum set, and I was playing drums. Mick and I were jamming, and I guess it brought a memory back for him that when he wrote Miss You, Billy Preston was on the drums and he was on the guitar. Mick was telling me how great it was for the Stones to have Billy Preston come to the studio. Like, when a guest would arrive, everyone would behave. So I was thinking, Who could be the Billy Preston of the Stones in 2023? Then Mick played me an early version of Sweet Sounds of Heaven. He was playing the piano.
- Andrew Watt, September 2023


After that experience, I flew to New York and did the exact same thing with Keith. It was really important to me to get time alone with Keith and earn his respect before we started this experience. If we could get the best Keith stuff on display, and weave the guitars between Ronnie and Keith, and then get Mickís vocals on top of that, then this is going to sound like the Stones. Then I went to L.A., and I listened with Ron again. And we talked about what was important to him and making sure there were some great moments for leads.
- Andrew Watt, September 2023


(The band told me:) Listen to everything weíve got, and pick what you like. So I did exactly that. Some were demos; some werenít developed. And there was a whole bunch of material with Charlie that we needed to listen through.
- Andrew Watt, September 2023





Los Angeles


And then we went to Los Angeles and cut the tracks like I told you.
- Mick Jagger, September 2023


So we went in the studio in December (sic) and we cut 23 tracks, very quickly. And finished them in January and mixed them in February. Something like that... That's about right.
- Mick Jagger, August-September 2023


Mick asked if (Andy Watt) could come in, which I wasn't really into in the beginning. I don't need someone in there while I'm writing a freaking tune. But I agreed. Quite frankly, I'd said from the beginning that the Glimmer Twins could have produced the record and I could've helped them. But I don't think Mick wanted to work that hard. There's a certain amount of nuance that you have to know how to capture. And I'll just leave it at that.
- Steve Jordan, September 2023


Andy seemed very enthusiastic... (He's) very cracking the whip and making sure everyone is really working hard.
- Mick Jagger, October 2023


First of all (Andy) was like very keen to do it. I worked with him doing some remixes of catalog songs and we became friendly and met up. And you know I liked the fact that he was or he has very wide musical tastes - obviously he made a lot of pop records. And heís also a real good player, he plays guitar and bass and he sings really good too. And so you know working with another musician as a producer isÖ was good. And heís super enthusiastic.
- Mick Jagger, October 2023


I was the newcomer. So I didnít have the baggage that comes with a band thatís been together for over 60 years. Thereís a lot of history between all of the people in the room, especially between Mick and Keith. So the only way I could think of how best to navigate those waters was moving quickly... You got to understand, Iím a fucking fan. If I told them how many Rolling Stones concerts Iíd seen, I donít think theyíd ever talk to me again. When we were in the studio, Iíd tell them, You let a freak from behind the barricade produce the album. I wore a different Stones T-shirt in the studio every day.  
- Andrew Watt, August-September 2023


In their initial conversations, the band explained that they were facing some challenges with the songs, and they would stop-and-start in their initial process, so it became my job to help facilitate bringing the project to completion... (T)he band had given me a clear directive, and in my line of work, results are what matter. I didn't waste time bullshitting. I just tried to make it clear that it was time to focus and get to work.
- Andrew Watt, August-September 2023


We did (the album) pretty quick actually. There were lots of ideas floating about. We gathered all together just before Christmas (sic) last year and made a go of it, didn't we? We cut them all very quickly.
- Ron Wood, September 2023


If the lead singer wants to record, you get him while the mood's on, know what I mean? Because you can have some good stuff, but if he don't feel like singing it or he's not in the mood... I mean, that is the power of a lead singer. He can dangle that in front of me.
- Keith Richards, September 2023


I didn't realize it was that easy! All I have to say is I want to make a record, and everyone gets behind me and works their fucking arses off? Great.
- Mick Jagger, September 2023


And Keith went, Well, (Valentine's Day i)s a bit optimistic. I said I know, but youíve got to be optimistic. In the end, Keith was very supportive, which I was surprised about because I thought he was going to say I canít be fucking bothered. Canít be doing that. I want a break, I donít want to be working in December. But he didnít. In fact, he worked very hard. I donít think Keithís worked that hard in years. Ronnie was very keen too...
- Mick Jagger, September 2023


That energy (from Mick) feeds the rest of us. I mean, an enthusiastic Mick is far easier to work with than a bewildered or disgruntled Mick. Letís just get him while heís in this mood.
- Keith Richards, September 2023


The Stones do work hard. When we work.
- Keith Richards, September 2023


It was... seat of the pants, informed by the sounds coming out of the speakers, and the songs.
- Andrew Watt, September 2023


(Andrew) came in, bossed us around, listened to the stuff, shuffled the pack, and chose the royal flush of the songs. The pick of the bunch is amazing.
- Ron Wood, August-September 2023


We needed a referee because we all have our own ideas. Mick would come along and say Do you agree with me about this one, Ronnie? Then Keith would say Youíve got it all wrong. And Iíd be going: Hang on a minute. I respect both of your viewpoints but we need to weigh this up. The attitude was that it was no good coming from a member of the band. Thatís when Andrew came in and said: OK, guys. Letís try it this way and come to an agreement. Sure enough, we did.
- Ron Wood, c. August 2023


I can understand Ronnie seeing it that way but the real referees are Mick and me. Andrew just had the right amount of energy and the right amount of know-how to pull it off.
- Keith Richards, October 2023


I had a bass and just started playing with Keith. I sat down with Keith and just started playing with him. I was of the mind that if I could earn his respect as a player, then I could communicate with him musically and offer suggestions chord-wise or inversion-wise or tone-wise or whatever. And we just got into it. When we started recording the basic rhythm tracks in L.A., I sat next to Keith in the live room. It was an important part of the process for me. I wanted to make sure the sounds were good, and as we were going through the takes, I was able to remember the performances because I was right there. If we got a good take, we just moved on immediately. After we did the basic tracking of roughly 23 songs, we got into overdubs. I think it was during the overdub sessions that I really earned Keith's respect and trust. It was very important to me that all of his parts were done before Mick added his final vocal, and we really worked hard together to accomplish that.
- Andrew Watt, August-September 2023


Usually, producers set up in the control room. We had 28, 29 songs on the list. I decided I was going to sit in the live room with the band. That way, I could help with the arrangements as we were going. This is a performance-based record; this is live. Thatís why it speeds up and slows down and pushes and pulls ó the only way the Stones should be. Being out in the live room really helped me watch the performances and communicate with each musician face to face. Iíd be able to go over to Keith or Mick and work through things as we were going.
- Andrew Watt, September 2023


A lot of (the energy) is the gathering of impetus and organization in a rock and roll way by our producer Andrew Watt, whoís a young boy full of fire, full of front. And he bosses us around and itís so encouraging and pleasing to follow his orders. And you go Alright you know. And I get off when Keith actually listens to him, you know. Normally Keith would go Get the fuck out.
- Ron Wood, September 2023


How many Stones shows have you seen? Keith plays the same song every night, right? Well, it's the same with takes. He's very primal and very emotional, but he's also unbelievably melodic.
- Andrew Watt, September 2023


I kid you not, the first song we recorded on day one in Los Angeles was Angry. On the album, you are listening to take two. Thatís how quickly these guys were in it. I wanted to keep the pace quick. So if we did 10, 12 takes of a song, weíd keep it going quickly so thereís no room for ripping things apart. I didnít want to leave room for debate.
- Andrew Watt, September 2023


We worked fast, but that was the idea. (Laughs) Iím still recovering... 
- Keith Richards, August-September 2023


Iíve never ever not had fun recording, but this one had real urgency and energy. We blitzkrieged that thing.
- Keith Richards, September 2023


We do like four or five takes. OK, and we move on. So no one had time to really think, Well, was this a good song? Should we be doing this song? Because I get introspective, you know. Is this song as good as the other one? Is this song like another one Iíve done? You can figure that out later. Letís keep moving... Weíd worked before like this. We learned and rehearsed some songs... and bang, bang, bang. So, yeah, we did a lot of songs like that, 20-something songs. And then we started overdubbing them, prioritizing them.
- Mick Jagger, August-September 2023


Before, we were too precious about everything. The attitude now was, donít worry about it! Just play it! Itís the psychology of the thing. Have an open mind, hit it hard, and it doesnít matter if it turns out to be shit because it is only an hour of your time. It worked because everyone got into the rhythm, which is the key. Get the groove to sound great and you can do everything else afterwards.
- Mick Jagger, c. August 2023


We did at least two tracks a day, if not three. 
- Mick Jagger, August-September 2023


We went into it pretty fired up and once we got started we just went through it. Every day was like kind of like banging through two or three songs. And so you keep the excitement, youíre not like doing 100 takes of everything, youíre doing 4-5 takes and then you move on to the next one, and move on to the next one. And thenÖ at the end of the day you see what you've got and if you haven't got it you might do it next week
... But youíre not, like, doing take 117. So that you donít get bogged down in conversations about whether this songís a good one, whether this songís worth it... Even if itís a nice song, if itís not done with enthusiasm, it doesnít really get to you, does it? 
- Mick Jagger, September 2023


Itís a weird thing, right. You work all your life and say No deadlines (laughs). This is what I worked for. But no, you do need them. And that was the thing Ė I was gonna call the damn album Deadline!... I think because of that added sort of deadline, Hey you got to do this! You donít just say Oh, maybe tomorrow. You gotta do it now. It enthused the whole band I think. 
- Keith Richards, September 2023


We started to work these things out as they went along and decided to keep it within the band, which made us fall back on our own talents. It was controlled madness. Mick was the controller and I was the madness. 
- Keith Richards, c. August 2023


They were very prepared, and we worked out arrangements in the studio. Many of the songs had been developed over time. After we listened to the most recent demo, everyone would start familiarizing themselves with it, and we'd play it a few times until everyone had it down cold. Instead of using the final take, we would often use the previous take because it still had that spark of spontaneity - the take where people were still searching. The worst part of contemporary music is how producers often kill a performance in search of perfection. I make loop-based music with some of my other clients, but I don't want to hear the Stones like that. No one wants to hear the Stones on some grid.
- Andrew Watt, August-September 2023


I think that one of the great things (working with Andy) is you donít need to do the song many times. He knows when it's done. So you do the song 4 times and itís done. So thatís it. And then everyone will look at him, What? He says Yeah. And now itís the next one. And so thereís not a lot of sitting around and thinking about it. There was none of that. We move to the next one. Now? OK. And  weíd all look and say Ah, thatís great! And we would applaud each other. ĎCause it got to be a joke, that weíd applaud Ė we finished another track and move on to the next one! So I think thatís really good to know when you've done it. 
- Mick Jagger, September 2023


I'm a compulsive songwriter. I mean I like to write. It's one of my favorite things. It's one of those creative forms where all you need is nothing. You just need your voice and a notebook... You just get a guitar, and then you have nothing and suddenly you have a song. And then you have it on your iPhone and then you are. And that is fun - it doesn't exist before and now it does. And that's a compulsive thing for me and I really enjoy doing it. So a lot of this album is a product of that.
- Mick Jagger, September 2023


Mick had been building up material, and once I heard it, I said, Well, we need to do a little bit of movement here or work on the bridge and stuff. But a lot of the time, his ideas were together, so once we got in the studio, it wasn't that difficult. It was also incredible to work with Steve Jordan for the first time on a Stones record. It was like presenting a "Stones now" kind of thing (laughs).
- Keith Richards, August-September 2023


(W)ith this album I came up with a lot of the original ideas before asking Keith, Ronnie, everyone, to make those ideas better.
- Mick Jagger, September 2023


Mick always wants to speed things up and push it. I want to take it easy. There is a difference between having impetus and running over your own feet.
- Keith Richards, September 2023


The great thing about the Stones is how loose they are, how they speed up and slow down, their internal heartbeat together.  
- Andrew Watt, September 2023


I had very little input in the ≠lyrics, but a lot of input in how the tracks were shaped, building riffs around what Mick had. I was interested in capturing his enthusiasm. The urgency and speed with which we did this amazed me. Bam! Thereís a good take, next!
- Keith Richards, September 2023


Mick writes the lyrics. But he's got some angst in him and I said, Well, let's use it. From my point of view, the essential thing about making a record is that the singer has to want to sing the material. Mick, given a song that he's not interested in, can really make it bad. And that's maybe one of the reasons it took 18 years, because Mick's waves of enthusiasm come and go.
- Keith Richards, October 2023


Keith wrote lyrics; Mick wrote lyrics; they wrote some together. There are some songs where I said I think you could have a better line here. And weíd sit for a second and come up with something, or heíd go away and come up with something. Or heíd say, Nah, itís better like this.
- Andrew Watt, September 2023


Over the last five years we've done quite a lot of recording with Don Was but it had been a bit sporadic and there was lot of unfinished material, songs that hadnít been done... I didn't really know where we were with it. We recorded a lot of stuff but we didn't have a deadline. I donít think we were THAT mad about what we recorded, though there were some really good things. But there was some things that we weren't crazy about. And there was no deadline and there was no cohesion and there was no, you know, finish line or style or anything. And so I think we got a bit lazy and lackadaisical about the whole thing... So when we were putting this together we said Well which ones do we like? Which ones do we think will fit on this record that Charlie is on? And we finished those. And so we put these two tracks we picked with Charlie on. I mean I love both tracks, I didnít just pick them because Charlieís on them, you now what I mean? But theyíre both, you know, contenders for this record.
- Mick Jagger, September 2023


We had just started working on those tracks a few years ago, before Covid shut everything down. We left Charlie's tracks as they were and re-did the vocals and everything else with Andy Watt. As soon as you hear that snare, you know it's him.
- Keith Richards, August-September 2023


Iím a very groove-orientated person, so (when I write) I've got an idea of what I think the groove is. Itís a BAND, so you canít really lay the law down completely, but I kind of know what groove Iím going for.
- Mick Jagger, August-September 2023


Because we don't have Charlie, so that's a huge difference in doing these sessions that we talked about. So though I play with Steve a lot, you know I play with Steve on the road and I also play with Steve in the studio. I mean I've done demos with Steve before andÖ he's very enthusiastic so that's always good. And I mean think I have a really good understanding with him. You know I'm interested in grooves as my thing you know. I'm not just only interested in melody, lyrics, but I'm interested in grooves. What groove should this song be in? What do I think for this band that fits this groove for this song? And because the Rolling Stones are a certain kind of band, you canít do ANY groove you want. You want it to be the perfect groove for THIS band. So Steve and I will work on the grooves, as I used to work with Charlie on the grooves. So itís like experimenting. I would just hang a bit late at night when everyone had gone home, just pick up a guitar and say, OK, so tomorrow weíre going to do this one, remember this one - because there were SO many songs that it was hard for everyone to remember. So we're going to do this one tomorrow and Iím bit worried about this. Should it be like this? Should the bass drum be like this? Should the tempo be like this? So Steve and I would work on that.
- Mick Jagger, September 2023


We're very real guys, so when we start playing we all know, Yep, that's it, or No, that isn't it. And if it feels phony, then we have to watch ourselves.
- Keith Richards, October 2023


I wanted it to sound huge. Because they are larger than life. Theyíre the fucking Stones. When you listen to this album you should picture the Stones playing in a stadium, because thatís what they are.
- Andrew Watt, August-September 2023


This record was made all in a room, with the musicians in the room. We're all in the room - Ronnie and me, Keith and Steve, Matt Clifford. We're all the room. Not for everything because not everyone's on every track, But nearly every track we're in the room just blasting out. And afterwards you go through the takes and say This is a good take, I'll leave that one. And then you work on the overdubs. That's pretty much, you know, how you make a rock record. 
- Mick Jagger, September 2023


(Andy) brought exactly what we wanted: energy and a fresh mind. He knew our stuff back to front, and I think he had a ball making the Stones' record. It was fun to make, very quick, compared to a lot of our records. We did most of it in a month or two. I enjoyed working with him.
- Keith Richards, August-September 2023


A lot of the making of this new Hackney Diamonds reminds me of the Some Girls days in Boulogne-Billancourt outside Paris where we cuts loads Ė Tattoo You, Emotional Rescue albums, starting with Some Girls. And that same kind of freedom that Mick and me had going with Ė we were going to call it More Fast Numbers (laughs). It was that same feel with some of the faster numbers on Hackney.
- Ron Wood, September 2023


My five-string Tele is on a good half of the tracks, but there's also a lot of the Gibson. That's not unusual. I've never just used one guitar in the studio, but I've been getting know this '59 Gibson ES-355 lately, and I really enjoy playing it... I mean, there's a lot of overdubs on everything here, so as usual, with every Rolling Stones record, there's a great mixture of different guitars.
- Keith Richards, August-September 2023


Keith brought in his usual amp rig, which consists of four amps that he's been using for a long time - a setup that's well documented. However, just to switch things up, I brought in five amps that had been worked on by the late and legendary Howard Dumble. Keith was particularly drawn to one of the Dumble-modified 1958 Fender Twins, which he used for a bunch of his overdubs. It just had a magical sound. Also, in addition to his '54 Tele and Gibson ES-355, Keith also played a Dan Armstrong guitar on a few tracks. One of my all-time favorite performances by Keith is a version of Midnight Rambler at a gig at the Marquee Club in 1971. You can watch it online. He's playing a Lucite Dan Armstrong guitar, and it sounds incredible. Unfortunately, it was stolen years ago, so I bought a '69 just like it and brought it in, and he used it on some tracks. Keith also used a '55 TV Yellow Gibson single-cut Les Paul Junior on Angry and Mess It Up. Ronnie used the Junior on Bite My Head Off, but most of the time he played his Strat, which is either a '54 or '55, and the Zemaitis he used on the Faces' hit Stay With Me. It was pretty funny. Every time he plugged the Zemaitis in, we'd make him play Stay With Me, and everyone would sing along at the top their lungs.
- Andrew Watt, August-September 2023


Steve Jordan did not play one hi-hat and snare at the same time ever. He honored Charlie like you canít believe and put his own swag into it in a way that only he could. I think about how hard Steve hits, and the guitars have to be stronger. The band sounds strong because they have to be right up with Steve. Steve set his cymbals all the way on the right, behind him, because Charlie had set up that way to get the cymbals out of the way so he could see Keith. And thatís a hard way to play; itís like he was making it harder for himself. And he didnít care because he wanted to honor Charlie and have an eyeline on Keith.
- Andrew Watt, September 2023


Keith worked very hard. He worked a lot of days consecutively.
- Mick Jagger, August-September 2023


The Stones' regular bassist, Darryl Jones, isn't on the album at all because he was on tour, so everybody was taking turns playing bass, including me, Keith, Ronnie, and Paul (McCartney).
- Andrew Watt, August-September 2023


Stevie Wonder, there's Lady Gaga on it, Sir Paul (laughs) - Macca turned up as well. It just so happened Andrew Watt, the producer, he was making records with these people and they just - OK, come on by, you know?
- Keith Richards, September 2023


Itís just a great thing we were able to come together again to think about Charlie and think about his consistent kindness. It was as consistent as the driving beats of the songs when they played.
- Stevie Wonder, August-September 2023


I left that choice of songs to Mick and Keith really to chew it overÖ And there was some very nice sorting out and some very diplomatic solutions and it got on very well and reaching an agreement. OK, you can use that one if you use this one, you know.
-  Ron Wood, September 2023


Because if you put Mick around Keith, it's going to sound like the Stones. You're not fitting Keith in - fuck that.
- Andrew Watt, September 2023, on recording all the guitar parts before adding the vocals





London and The Bahamas


The key thing is that it wasnít overplayed. No Take 117, no breaks, no holidays, all the overdubs done quickly, no messing around.
- Mick Jagger, c. August 2023


We did a lot of vocals in London and then we went to the Bahamas and kind of finished up the album there.
- Andrew Watt, September 2023


And then (in London) I came in and did some vocals, and Ronnie did the same. And then I went to Nassau (sic), or Bahamas, and did my vocals in January.
- Mick Jagger, August-September 2023


We moved to London for the Christmas season. And thatís when we had Bill Wyman come in and play bass. I was like Why donít we get Bill to play? Mick was like Letís see what Keith thinks and see if thatís a good idea. And Keith thought it was a good idea. Mick sent Bill an email, and he said he would love to. We got him to play bass on one of the songs with Charlie, which was fabulous.
- Andrew Watt, September 2023


From a previous session we had Charlie on two tracks that we thought would fit into this album. So nearly all this album was done (in 2022). But we had two tracks from 2019 that Charlie was on we thought would fit in. And then one we thought OK, well why don't we try Bill on this track, overdubbing bass? So we got the original (laughing) rhythm section. So I phoned Bill up and I said, You still playing Bill? He said What do you mean I'm still playing? Of course I'm still playing! So then we got him to do that.
- Mick Jagger, September 2023


Mick got in touch and asked if I would play on one of the new album tracks featuring Charlie on drums, which I was happy to agree to. It was a great opportunity to play alongside the late Charlie, my much missed and closest friend, once again.
- Bill Wyman, August-September 2023


Sometimes (Mick would) do a take and heíd say, Iím singing too good. I've got to do that again and ďthrow it awayĒ more. Iím like, What do you mean? Ď"Throw it away more ó feeling." And heíd go back out there and do the most effortless shit that youíve ever heard in your life that was so much better and catchier.
- Andrew Watt, August-September 2023


Both Mick and Keith were like: itís not Dylan enough. Itís anti-singing, itís almost speaking; he has such attention to detail in his voice, of making it not too good. Thatís so cool. Every other singer Iíve worked with is like: I can sing that better. Heís the opposite: I could throw that away.
- Andrew Watt, September 2023


Andy also helped me a lot in writing. You know he helps me by telling me Oh, you could do that better. So I I listen to what outside people tell me. You know I'm not like so kind of like entrenched that if Andy said to me Oh those words they're great Mick but you could do a lot better - I just go back and rewrite them... Thatís whatís fun about working with people is that I don't mind - if Keith says to me that that could be better Iíll make it better, if Andy Watt says it can be better I'll try. If I disagree with him I'll tell him I disagree with him.
- Mick Jagger, September 2023


You need time to really get into it to be able to sing (a song) as if you know it really well. Because how many times have I done (something new) compared to how many times Iíve done Paint It Black? You donít have to do it 2,000 times, but you canít just do it on take three, because you donít really know your own song. You have to learn the song, how it would be if youíve done it onstage a few times.
- Mick Jagger, August-September 2023


(Mick)
starts (doing the vocals) in like, a sweater, a button-down and a T-shirt. And then, two takes in, the sweater comes off. Two takes later, the button-down comes off. All of a sudden, heís down to a T-shirt, and heís ripped, and heís 80, and heís fucking giving you full-blown Mick Jagger, shaking and sweating as he sings every note.
- Andy Watt, September 2023


Oh, that's interesting. Maybe it's because both producers are named Andrew! (laughs) But you make a point. Mick worked hard, and I think he put more consideration into each song rather than just doing it. It was my observation that he thought a lot more about the vocals than usual... Andrew and Mick worked very tightly on each track.
- Keith Richards, August-September 2023, asked about Mick's vocals sounding less stylized and more like the early days





Mixing and rounding it out


I finished mixing in beginning of March. I was really up (laughs) and then I had to sort of put it on the back burner because it takes so long to make the vinyl... It was fun to make. Made pretty quickly. Just about 3, 4 weeks, most of it... Then two weeks of overdubs. And then I did vocals, I went somewhere else to do the vocals. And then I mixed it remotely with Andy and the mixer, Serban. That was fun. We were in three locations: I was in the Caribbean, Andy was in L.A., Serban was in North Carolina (sic) (note: actually Virginia)
.
- Mick Jagger, September 2023


We werenít trying to re-create some retro record or retro sound or even retro playing. Itís supposed to sound like itís recorded this year, which it more or less was.
- Mick Jagger, August-September 2023


I mean when I talked to Andy Ė I mean Andyís like a pop producer, thatís where he's made his name, but he loves rock and roll and knows all the history backwards, he can play all the licks, he can play all the Rolling Stones licks (laughs) himself, which is pretty impressive. But I said to Andy, I want it to be true to the school, I want it to be like a Rolling Stones record, but itís got to SOUND like it was recorded this year, the sonic levels and the way it sounds has got to sound like now. We donít want it to sound like 40 years ago and of course it doesn't - it sounds like now, the clarity of it and the fidelity of it. If you listen to it compared to an old Rolling Stones record, itís very, very different. But it still has all the things of the Rolling Stones.
- Mick Jagger, September 2023


The way we intended it to be was that it would have the soul of the Rolling Stones. But nevertheless, sonically, if you put it next to something we recorded in the 70s or 80s, it's not going to sound the same.
- Mick Jagger, September 2023



Andyís a pop producer who loves rock and roll. But rock and roll doesnít make you any money and it doesnít make you famous, at least not any more. Iím not trying to make the Rolling Stones not sound like the Rolling Stones ó that would be really stupid, especially after not putting out an album for so long ó but the temptation a lot of producers have is to remake their favourite Stones album. I had to say to Andy Weíre not making Sticky Fingers Mark II here. A few references are OK. Loads of references are not OK.
- Mick Jagger, September 2023


(Mick's) objective was, I guess, to be competitive or relevant, relevant to a new generation of people. And, also, as Mick said to me, it would be nice to have a couple of hits on the thing.
- Steve Jordan, September 2023


I
like real. We actually cut this record primarily for vinyl.
- Keith Richards, October 2023


I hope what makes it fresh and modern comes down to the way it's mixed, with focus on low end and making sure the drums are big. But the record is recorded like a Stones album. There's no click tracks. There's no gridding. There's no computer editing. This shit is performed live and it speeds up and slows down. It's made to the fucking heartbeat connection of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood and Steve Jordan. And Charlie when Charlie's on it. (Fans will) hear their favourite band in the world playing raw and un-fucked-with, because that's what it is. It's the raw shit.
- Andrew Watt, September 2023


Iíve never worked with anyone that worked as hard as (Mick), ever. He was making sure you could hear a snare all the way through the song, that you could hear Keith and Ronnie and their interplay. Singers are usually: Hereís my vocal, you do the rest. But he cares so much about this band, and how everyone is represented. 
- Andrew Watt, September 2023, on Mick Jagger during the mixing sessions


Listen to a classic Stones song like Beast of Burden. You can't tell who's playing lead and who's playing rhythm, and if you mute (Keith or Ronnie), it would sound incomplete. They complement each other beautifully, and that's apparent on the whole record... They pause to exchange licks, one handling the rhythm while the other responds. They watch, listen, and engage in this incredible musical dialogue. If you want to really check it out for yourself, I purposely mixed it so that 90 percent of Keith's parts are on the left and Ronnie's are on the right.
- Andrew Watt, August-September 2023


I think (Keith and I) got along on this record really well. Of course we have disagreements about how things should be, but I think thatís pretty normal. I sometimes feel that Keith thinks I like everything too fast. But I know how fast they should be, because Iím completely a groove person.
- Mick Jagger, August-September 2023


It was a pleasure to put it together, it was a pleasure to work with Andrew Watt who really added the gas in there as well.
- Keith Richards, September 2023


It is an album about a lot of personal relationships, though there are other things. Dreamy Skies is kind of introspective. Sweet Sounds of Heaven is kind of like a gospel song, but itís got personal things in it. Whole Wide World is supposed to be sort of tongue-in-cheek, uplifting, so that whatever happens to you, you can always get over it. I threw in a few things from my youth in London to throw into some of those verses about living in Fulham and all that.
- Mick Jagger, August-September 2023


Itís all within the Stonesí orbit of music. I donít think weíre really breaking out. Thereís a few tracks that we didnít release that perhaps were a little bit more (sounds and styles) that youíve never heard the Stones do before.
- Mick Jagger, August-September 2023


I think because of Charlie passing, we felt that we're still going and we should still retain an identity. And still say, hey, it's only rock and roll but here we are. I thought in a way that I made this record because Charlie sort of said Do it.
- Keith Richards, September 2023


How stupid of us not to have realized (we needed a deadline) eight years agoÖ Yeah I do wish weíd done it sooner. And weíve been messing around too long and not concentrating. And not being clear enough about our goals and letting it drift. And, you know, Iím not really going to blame everyone for that but I mean it was my own fault as much as anyone elseís. But I did realize that we couldn't let it drift anymore and we had to do it properly and do it in a quick way with someone that's gonna really concentrate on it. And thatís what we did.
- Mick Jagger, September 2023










APPRECIATION


There are some of the songs on the album that are more kind of more serious than others. Some are funny, some are a joke, some are tongue-in-cheek, and some are a little bit more serious. But it's quite an eclectic mix and that's what I like about it.

- Mick Jagger, September 2023


I mean if you're going to be a rock band you have to Ė one of the biggest ingredients is energy and I think this album has that. And it feels like, it has a cohesiveness and like it's all recorded Ė it isnít, I mean weíve got two tracks with Charlie which were done 2019
Ė but the rest of it is all done very quicklyÖ So it has that and it has energy but it also has some other things, you know, you canít ďbang bangĒall the time, so youíve got a bit of relief from that. So we tried to make a combination of different styles as well as rockers but I think the rockers come off. 

- Mick Jagger, September 2023


I don't want to be big headed but we wouldn't have put this album out if we hadn't really liked it. We didn't want to make just any record and put it out...  Before we went in (the studio last year) we all said We're going to make a record that we REALLY love ourselves. Other people may like it, other people may not. But we must say that we are quite pleased with it... I think we're all kind of happy, we're all kind of excited about it.

- Mick Jagger, September 2023


A lot of the tracks on the album have that explosion. This is a really in-your-face album.

- Ron Wood, August-September 2023


I like Keithís guitar on Angry, Tell Me Straight, and Driving Me Too Hard. Thereís a different kind of feel on Driving Me Too Hard; itís almost country. And Dreamy Skies is very sweet. It has a Sweet Virginia-type feel. Youíve got the dance track Mess It Up, which has also got Charlie on drums. Thereís so many different genres on it that I love.

- Ron Wood, August-September 2023

I think this album is the Stones, but NOW. I just think itís the Stones THIS YEAR... I wanted it to be great. I didnít want it to be just an album that was OK. And I think the album delivered what I wanted.

- Mick Jagger, August-September 2023


Thereís never been anyone else that has been a group for this long that has made an album this good at this point in their career. Listen to (Mick's) vocals, man Ė thereís no difference between 18 and 80.
- Andrew Watt, September 2023



I think this record is halfway a tribute to Charlie Watts and the Stonesí history, and (half) an attempt at the future and how much there is left... Iím as fresh as anybody else on this (laughs). Iím growing into it.Ö Itís like, Hereís a new Stones record. And Iíve heard it for the first time, and Iím still trying to decide.
- Keith Richards, August-September 2023


Great fun to make. And I hope it feels like it. And itís starting to get a good response so thatís cool with me, you know.
- Keith Richards, September 2023









REVIEW EXCERPTS


Not counting their blues covers record from 2016, the last time the Rolling Stones bequeathed us with an album of fresh material was during George W. Bushís presidency. That record, 2006 (sic)ís A Bigger Bang, was feisty but not especially memorable, and in the nearly two decades since, maybe even they started to wonder if we needed another record by them. If the Stones were going to drag themselves (and us) through the process again, and after such a long gap, they also must have known theyíd have to make it worth everyoneís while. Shockingly, they have. A collection of bangers (old-school division) that nobody in their right mind had a right to expect in 2023, Hackney Diamonds isnít just another new Stones album but a vibrant and cohesive record Ė the first Stones album in ages youíll want to crank more than once before filing away... What you wonít find much of here is the late-in-life introspection heard in recent records by some of the Stonesí peers. Weíve arrived at a fascinating period in rock history, when aging boomer rockers arenít just dragging themselves onstage but continuing to write songs ó uncharted territory for them and us. In a first for that generation, we get to hear whatĎs on the minds of Bob Dylan, Neil Young Paul McCartney, Paul Simon or Judy Collins as they approach or enter their eighties ó in songs that confront mortality, look back over tumultuous lives or recent history, and occasionally rant about the state of the planet or politics... Here and there on Hackney Diamonds, Jagger indulges in contemplative moments of his own. ďThe streets I used to walk on are full of broken glass/And everywhere Iím looking, thereís memories of the past,Ē he sings in Whole Wide World... Those expressions are about as deep as it gets... (W)ith a relatively unobtrusive Paul McCartney contributing bass, Bite Your Head off winds up a kicky musical spitball, and the Richards and Wood raveup at the end is the best sort of sonic rollercoaster ride... But maybe theyíre right. Whether this is their last album or not, maybe songs like Bite Your Head Off are the way we want to remember them, and rock itself.

- David Browne, Rolling Stone, October 2023


(I)n truth, the median age of its roll call belies the sheer vitality of the thing. Richards and Ronnie Wood rip through gritty glam and blues rock riffs like guitarists half of half their ages, and rather than mutter reflective wisdom gleaned from a rockíníroll life mid-winddown Ė a la Bruce Springsteen or Bob Dylan Ė Jagger bawls and yowls about blurry nights, media intrusion and relationship ructions like an eternal A-list twentysomething... A late-career Exile on Main Street? Their best since the Seventies? Arguably, but such hyperbole undeniably rests on the broad shoulders of the seven-minute Sweet Sounds of Heaven, the albumís spectacular spiritual crescendo. As Lady Gaga spills out gospel trills and gymnastics over a slow-burning Pentecostal groove, Jagger delivers a sermon both defiantly personal (ďIím not going down in some dusty motelĒ) and universally stirring (ďLet the music play loudÖlet us all stand up proudĒ). Itís a statement song worthy of rounding off a career this monumental, but also one that revives the gritty passions of 1969ís Gimme Shelter. Itís enough to convince you the old are still young.till.


- Mark Beaumont, The Independent, October 2023


Hackney Diamonds is 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. Driving Me Too Hard opens with Keith Richards playing the same riff as Tumbling Dice but the production, courtesy of 32-year-old Andrew Watt, is crisp and contemporary. Dreamy Skies is a country soul strum, with a world-weary quality reminiscent of quieter moments from the late 1960s/early 1970s golden age like Let It Bleed and Exile on Main St. Yet the words, about Jagger dreaming of cutting himself off from the ubiquitous spectre of digital communication, belong to the 21st century... Although Jagger is steering the ship here, Keith Richards leaves his mark throughout, not least on the guitar-weaving with Ronnie Wood in which rhythm and lead intermingle. Tell Me Straight is one of Richardsís saddest songs, a slow-moving lament on which he asks, ďIs the future all in the past?Ē Finally comes Rolling Stone Blues, with Jagger and Richards going back to where it all began with a rough, raw version of Muddy Watersí Rolliní Stone featuring nothing more than Jagger blasting away on harmonica and Richards knocking the hell out of an acoustic guitar. So it turns out Paul McCartney was right. The Rolling Stones were a blues cover band all along. The fact that they have never forgotten that, even after writing some of the greatest songs of the rock era, is what makes them ó and this album ó still so exciting, even after all these years. 5/5

- Will Hodgkinson, The Times, October 2023

The album doesn't entirely consist of material the Stones cut early in 2023 (sic) -- two tracks feature Charlie Watts, including Live by the Sword, which has original bassist Bill Wyman guesting on a Stones record for the first time in 30 years -- yet it bears the unmistakable imprint of a record delivered on a deadline. There's little hesitation, no thoughtful pondering here: Hackney Diamonds just barrels ahead with a clean efficiency. Although they're largely working with a new producer -- Andrew Watt, who came recommended by Paul McCartney -- the Rolling Stones don't attempt new tricks anywhere on Hackney Diamonds, save maybe Whole Wide World, whose bizarre neo-new wave vibe gets odder thanks to Jagger singing in an exaggerated cockney accent. Even that is a slight nod to the band's mall-rat rock of the early '80s, one of many different guises the Rolling Stones adopt over the course of Hackney Diamonds... Because it has no grand conceptual hook and because the Stones so thoroughly integrate their superstar guests -- not only are Gaga and Wyman here but so are Stevie Wonder, Elton John, and McCartney -- it doesn't overwhelm upon an initial listen the way the lengthy Voodoo Lounge or A Bigger Bang do; that small scale is its strength. At its heart, it's nothing more than the Rolling Stones knocking out some good Rolling Stones songs, which seems like a minor miracle after such a long wait. 3.5/5

- Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Allmusic, October 2023


Thereís an undeniable dip in the middle, if only a mild one. Whole Wide World Ė Jagger gives it some cockney while walking the ďthe dreary streets of LondonĒ of his youth Ė tries hard but tries a bit too hard. The country strum of Dreamy Skies sounds slightly unfinished and could have used more Keith on the harmonies, although hearing Jagger go on about Hank Williams and bad honky tonk in his Faraway Eyes accent before his harmonica comes in is far from unpleasant... Driving Me Too Hard was, apparently, written in the old fashioned way, with these two friends who will never get away from each other for all eternity cheek to jowl. Richardsí riff, his best in a long time, descends from the opening blast of Tumbling Dice, one of the most joyous sounds there has ever been, before moving slightly to the left, allowing his mate to bemoan another loverís unreasonable demands... All this talk of greatest albums since whenever is one thing, but Sweet Sounds Of Heaven is Ė by far Ė the best thing with the Rolling Stones name on it in decades... On an album of exceptional, time-defying, vowel-stretching, soul-charged, goat-acting, Mick-Jaggering, rock-n-roll-defining Jagger vocal performances, this is where he pulls out all the stops. Listen to the way he climbs up the bridge before the horns come in and take the song a step higher. Itís his best vocal since the seldom-heard Following The River on the deluxe edition of Exile On Main St... And are the greatest rock ní 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 sinceÖ? It might be the best one since Keith Richardsí Talk Is Cheap, the greatest Rolling Stones record that never was, and thatís something. The old gods are with us still.


- Pat Carty, hotpress.com, October 2023


Stop the clocks! Roll away the stones! As rockíníroll diehards, electric boogie fiends, old groovers and true believers have hoped for, I am delighted to confirm that the new Rolling Stones album is the best thing they have made since their Seventies glory days. Which, it might reasonably be argued, de facto makes it the best rockíní roll album of the past four decades at least... Letís be fair, there have been plenty of wonderful individual tracks since the last thoroughly decent Stones album of original songs, 1981ís Tattoo You. They havenít maintained their reputation as the worldís greatest rockíníroll band on live shows alone, and 2016ís sinuous covers collection Blue and Lonesome confirmed that they remained masters of the blues groove. Hackney Diamonds, though, has that added magical something to elevate it above everything the Stones have released from 1983ís Undercover to 2005ís A Bigger Bang. The dozen songs on offer are jam-packed with Jagger swagger, Keith Richardsís riffology, Ronnie Woodsís sleek solos, the Glimmer twinsí aching harmonies, abounding with tight rhythms, catchy melodies, snappy lyrics, dirty energy and all bound together with lightning flashes of hair raising flair. They are certainly not trying to reinvent the (steel) wheel, but they do sound like they may have paid a visit to the Exile basement and reminded themselves what they are really good at. Scratch that Ė what they are the best in the business at. Producer Andrew Watt has done a superb job of keeping the sound bright, crisp, loud, raucous and improbably modern. This is not the Stones at their most delicate or intricate, indeed, it is arguably simplistic to the point of being almost dumb, but then rockíníroll doesnít demand genius. It thrives on energy and feel, on lightning in a bottle stuff that can be desperately hard to capture with the separated recording style favoured in modern digital studios... (Rolling Stone Blues) could serve as a sentimental thank you and goodnight, a gorgeous bluesy swan song from a pair of musical rogues whoíve helped keep the world rocking for over 60 years, and a band that became the living definition of the most resonant and impactful musical genre of our times. Yet this album is just so full of life, so shot with love and energy, only a fool would bet against them doing it all again. The Stones roll on. All is well in the rockíníroll world.  5/5

- Neil McCormick, The Telegraph, October 2023


Who would have thought that musicians who have so trashed their laurels would return after almost 20 years with such a (mostly) healthy and ill-mannered collection of songs? The Holy Grail for musicians, of course, is that they continue to do in their 60s, 70s and 80s what they were doing in their 20s and 30s. No one expects the Stonesí quality control to reach the same heights as in their heyday (fans have felt the bruise of disappointment far too often for that), and, true to form, a few songs here are run of the mill Ė Mess It Up and Live by the Sword, both from 2019 sessions with the bandís late original drummer, Charlie Watts, and Tell Me Straight, the obligatory album offering from Richards. But when you add the aforementioned stone-cold Stones crackers to Sweet Sounds of Heaven, an extemporised, exultant and drawn-out gospel tune featuring Lady Gaga duelling with Mick Jagger, you have a batch of songs that are the best the band has delivered in decades. 4/5

- Tony Clayton-Lea, Irish Times, October 2023


For the last couple of weeks, Iíve been listening over and over again to this rock revival produced by Andrew Watt as Mick, Keith, and Ronnie ó with special guests like Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Charlie Watts (joining in from heaven) and Bill Wyman Ė simply have discovered the fountain of youth. The songs have echoes of their greatest hits but still sound fresh as ever. You canít imagine a current band with this kind of energy, skill, and insight... The craziest thing about Hackney Diamonds? You know the band canít wait to play it live. They could do it from beginning to end in the middle of their show, bookended by hits, and everyone would be happy. These songs demand to be heard that wayĖ and Iíll bet they will be. As Jagger sings in Depending on You: Iím too young for dying and too old to lose.

- Roger Friedman, showbiz411.com, October 2023


If you liked the song Angry, youíre going to love the rest of the album. If you liked Sweet Sounds of Heaven (featuring Lady Gaga and Stevie Wonder), youíve going to love the album. And if you thought The Stones could never pull off an album of this caliber again, youíre going to be surprised ó and rewarded ó with what is clearly the best collection of original material from the band since the whole Some Girls/
Tattoo You period. Yes, thatís a very audacious statement to make, but this album is that good. Quite frankly, itís a delicious surprise from the band, proving that you sometimes can get what you want. The first word that comes to mind while listening to Hackney Diamonds is ďsynergy."  This is a great example of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood working together as a band. This is not some disjointed album where either Mick or Keith comes up with a basic track in one part of the world, sends it to the other so they can put overdubs on it... There is definitely something new (or something old) in the air with Hackney Diamonds, and it proves that The Stones are far from over. Think about the last time any of their contemporaries (if you can find one) were able to write and record something that would garner the amount of hits that Angry has. Nobody from the 1960s is writing music like this anymore, and that's a shame, but at least The Rolling Stones are staying true to their winning formula... There are punk, modern rock, rock and roll, and blues sensitivities contained throughout the album. In short, itís the Stones as you would want them. This is what fans have thirsted for going back decades.

- Goldmine staff, goldminemag.com, October 2023


Thing is, Hackney Diamonds (slang for when one gets oneís window done in on a Saturday night in the London borough) is no novelty retread - it is in fact the best thing The Stones have done since ooooh, Tattoo You (other choices may apply). It swaggers, it staggers and it affirms that you canít keep a good bunch of white middle-class bluesmen down despite age, self-parody and inverted snobbery. Like a smash and grab of their back catalogue, the bandís 24th studio album ducks and dives between ya-yas out rockers, country ballads, hangdog blues and gospel. It was never going to fully recapture any of the three ages of the Stones - the blues rock barrow boys of their first dawning, the apocalyptic dread of their imperial phase and the self-aware priapic posturing that followed - but Hackney Rebels sounds like a veteran band playing out of their parchment-like skin... Producer Andrew Watt, who has previously worked with acts as disparate as Ozzy Osbourne and Dua Lipa, corrals the whole thing into something fresh sounding but without sacrificing the Essence of Stone - filthy riffage, superb vocals and a rhythm section that lurches about with real power... (I)f this is the Stones unfurling the rock `ní roll blueprint one last time, theyíve done a marvelous job. Hackney Diamonds is a very fine record of ruined splendour and unholy riffage. Far from elegantly wasting away, the Stones are still cackling under the moonlight. 4/5

- Alan Corr, rte.ie, October 2023

Behind its terrible title, which makes the new Rolling Stones album sound like a pole-dancing club in Clapton, and its abysmal artwork, which makes it look like a mid-price hair metal compilation, what Hackney Diamonds has in profusion is really good songs: the ramshackle country honk of Dreamy Skies; the appealingly languid Driving Me Too Hard; Get Close, which hangs on a fabulous, quintessentially Keith Richards riff. Clearly the sessions werenít without their hiccups Ė in a recent interview, new drummer Steve Jordan complained that the songs were ďtoo poppyĒ, the guest stars superfluous and, tellingly, that Jagger and Richards should have produced it with his help Ė but the end product crackles with a sense of purpose: itís hard to avoid the conclusion that, with mortality impinging on their thoughts after Wattsí passing, all concerned wanted the Jagger-Richards songwriting partnership to bow out with something noticeably stronger than A Bigger Bang. If that was their aim, theyíve succeeded, coming up with that rarest of things: a latter-day Rolling Stones album that requires no special pleading. 4/5

- Alexis Petridis, The Guardian, October 2023


It's the best they sounded on record in decades. Hackney Diamonds, only their second album of original material this century, finds the Rolling Stones at a curious stage in their long career: with both nothing and, for the first time in decades, something to prove. And they step up for the occasion, delivering their most committed set of songs and performances in years. Starting strong with Angry Ė a blender whirl of classic Stones signposts Ė and continuing through to the LP-closing acoustic Rolling Stone Blues, Hackney Diamonds is the rare occurrence of a veteran band embracing its legacy with new determination. The Rolling Stones aren't doing anything new here, but there's a surprising amount of vitality to almost everything they do.... Maybe it's the renewal of their fighting spirit, or perhaps they realize that because it took nearly two decades to get here, this could be their last album. Whatever the reason, Hackney Diamonds finds the Rolling Stones sublimely reclaiming a crown they relinquished long ago.

- Michael Gallucci, ultimateclassicrock.com, October 2023

The Stones have been around for so long Ė and gone through so many comebacks, so many highs and lows Ė itís absurd to talk about this first studio album since 2005ís A Bigger Bang as a return to form, or indulge in all that Ďthe best album since ExileÖí stuff. This is basically another record of them doing what they have always done, itís simply that this is a particularly excellent set of songs which have a certain down and dirty rage that feels perfect right now... At this stage in rock Ďní rollís history Ė where itís the forgotten man left in a back room somewhere while the kids sit on the coffee shop terrace sipping turmeric infusions and wringing their hands over their own identities Ė it is nice to be reminded what rock Ďní roll is all about: losing your identity entirely and loving it. This is why rock Ďní roll used to matter. It was the freedom. Fleeting freedom from the rest of the world. Thatís why itís always been teenage music. Burgeoning power finding itself constricted under parents, school, authorities. Itís not moral, safe, respectable, sensible, or even kind. But it is exciting. Whatís great about Hackney Diamonds is that the Stones manage to reflect on their original spirit as well as actually deliver on the rock Ďní roll itself. 4/5

- Martin Robinson, London Evening Standard, October 2023

One of Watt's strengths is his ability to emphasize enduring strengths while adding contemporary touches, and he does that again here, helping the band to deliver a late-career masterpiece. Some songs have a live-in-the-studio feel. Others have a modern sense of clarity and separation between the vocals, guitars and drums... The band finish with a nod to their roots in the blues by covering Muddy Waters' Rolling Stone Blues. When Jagger and Richards first met as teenagers at Dartford railway station in 1961, Mick had a prized Muddy Waters LP in his hands, bonding with Keith over their shared musical tastes. Sixty-two years on, this affectionate cover brings the pair full circle, cementing a studio comeback that rolls back the years with astonishing aplomb. 5/5

- Adrian Thrills, The Daily Mail, October 2023






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