How The Rolling Stones got fired up and recorded Hackney Diamonds

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NEW YORK – In 2022, 17 years after The Rolling Stones released their most recent album of original songs, Mick Jagger decided the band had dithered and procrastinated long enough.

Sessions had come and gone, and unfinished songs were stacking up.

Charlie Watts, the band’s lifelong drummer and rhythmic cornerstone, had died in 2021, but the band kept on touring without new material.

“No one was being the taskmaster,” singer Jagger recalled. “No one was saying, ‘This is the deadline.’”

So he did just that. The result is Hackney Diamonds, a loud, cantankerous, unrepentant collection of new songs from a band that refuse to mellow with age.

For the new album, the sometimes fractious songwriting partnership of Jagger and Keith Richards found a way to realign.

Near the end of the sessions, they even completed writing one song – Driving Me Too Hard – in a room together, as they had in their early years.

“We’re a weird pair,” Richards said via video from his manager’s New York City office, surrounded by Stones merchandise and memorabilia.

His grey hair was tucked into a headband, and framed cover art of the 1981 album Tattoo You, with Jagger’s striated face, hung above him. “I love him dearly, and he loves me dearly, and let’s leave it at that.”

Hackney Diamonds, due on Oct 20, is both a new blast and a summing up. It digs into the Stones’ long-established style: sinewy guitar riffs, Jagger’s proudly intemperate vocals, bluesy underpinnings and ever-improvisatory guitar interplay.

“You know, it goes like this – but maybe it could go like that,” Richards said. “Without improvisation, it wouldn’t be anything in the first place. I mean, there are no rules to rock ’n’ roll. That&rsquo...

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