“Angry”: The Rolling Stones are No Longer Angry Old Men, and I Like It, I Like It, Yes I do!

So the Rolling Stones have got their first new album in twenty years, Hackney Diamonds coming out on October 20th, and the first single, Angry, was released today, which is all very exciting, but the question remains, is it any good? If Angry is anything to go by, the answer is yes, quite possibly.

The Stones have always looked across the water for musical inspiration, and Mick Jagger does the best generic yankee white bluesman accent of any of the British Invasion bad boys, so before I pressed play on Angry, I was expecting more of the same Americana-via-Souff Lundun stuff we got from their last truly great album, 1994’s Voodoo Lounge, and to a certain extent, it is churlish to expect anything else from the Stones: after all, it is their bread and butter, albeit served with BBQ ribs, instead of mushy peas and fish n’ chips. Angry, however is serving up some pure nostalgia. It is the Stones’ Bringing it all Back Home, whilst giving the nod to the American setting of their grand 61 year adventure.

They were always Hackney Diamonds in the rough, living it large down the sunset strip and defining what it was to be a rock star right at the very birth of the rock and roll generation that took the torch from Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry and the roots bluesmen and women they emulated and worshipped. These boys went to the source before anyone else bar the greats like Dylan, had really explored what gems were hidden in those rare Folkways collections. Vinyl was pure gold, and records were to be stolen, plundered and turned moneymakers for Mick to shake his pert little tush to, while the rest of the band held it together.

Angry’s music video has visions of the Stones of the past, in their hey day and beyond, coming out of billboards, playing and singing along to the song that longed to be written. This is classic Stones, tinged with the sadness of losing Charlie. His loss has clearly provided them the impetus to write and renew their relationships. This is a band that no longer feels like a disparate group of individuals who learned to hate each other over their long marriage (Mick and Keith famously refer to each other as spouses, and had to be kept apart just so they could play together). Instead, this song sounds like the group kissing and making up and getting together once more. This is no plea to various women, but instead to each other. “Don’t be angry with me!” they plead, and it is good to see that they don’t appear to be angry any longer.

Watching the group interview, the first one that I have seen in many years, there seems to be a renewed affection and brotherly love between the boys. The reunion looks and sounds like primo Stones, Mick is on form, Keith is doing his weaving guitar magic and Ronnie is on form. The memories are imbued with love and affection, and it sounds good to have the band on the same page as each other.

This is not groundbreaking sound, but are we looking for that from The Stones at this point in time? Nor is it anything too exciting. What it is solid rock and roll that bodes very well for Hackney Diamonds being a worthy late addition to the Stones back-pages. It is a pure shot to the heartstrings of nostalgia and longing for the past glories of what might well be the best big rock and roll band of all time, and you know what, “I like it, I like it, yes I do! Oh I like it!” The Stones are now that wellspring of rock and roll that they once drew inspiration from. Charlie would be overjoyed, I suspect, at both the revival in affection between the band members and the artistic and musical revitalization of his band.

What is the point, after all, in being angry, with it has been such a long, strange, profitable and glorious trip for this band of diamonds in the rough? Looking at an old promo photo of the band at the very start in 1962, and then watching this new release, it is breathtaking just how far the band has come. If this album is the last new music they ever produce, I am beyond happy to see The Stones as a solid band who clearly have a lot of affection for each other at this other end of their career. Long Live The Rolling Stones!

No one appears to be angry any more, and how lovely is that!


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