The Rolling Stones have now been together for sixty years – of the “originals” (Brian Jones) died aged 27 in 1969 and another (Charlie Watts) died in 2021 aged 80.
On 26th July Mick Jagger turned 80, a milestone that Keith Richard will also pass in December if he makes it that far; the other official band member still serving (Ronnie Wood) is 76.
The last “original” (Bill Wyman) – who quit the band in 1993 – is still around at the age of 87.
One day there will come a time for assessing their impact upon the global music scene and indeed the culture of not just the Western World, but that is not my purpose today.
Some might say that everyone and everything eventually reaches a stage in life when “retiring” become more a necessity than an option because – especially in rock music, the medium in which the Stones purport to operate – youth, vigour, dynamism, zest for life, partying, outrage, protest, challenge and/or rage against everything (in the style of Marlon Brando’s character in the 1953 movie The Wild One who, when asked by an incredulous bystander “what are you rebelling against?” replies “What have you got?”) seem to be fundamental requirements.
To put it another way, it feels somehow incongruous and counter-intuitive for once legendary rebels to later become part of “The Establishment”.
When your numerous own tribute bands – making a healthy a living – can be fifty and more years younger than you.
When you can become a parody of yourself.
When “goofing around” like pretend drug-addled young rock stars at their peak begins to pall for all involved and tends to prompt a sense of pity from the onlookers.
Last night – left at home minding the dogs whilst my beloved went off to a pub for a drink with two of her children – for want of anything better to do, I tuned to the YouTube website and by chance came across what I now realise was a “live” streaming of the preview launch of the Rolling Stones first album in eighteen years – entitled Hackney Diamonds – at an event hosted by US chat show host Jimmy Fallon held at the Hackney Empire Theatre in advance of its scheduled worldwide release on 20th October.
Having watched the proceedings I found myself coping with a strange aftertaste – to be specific, partly sadness and pity at the spectacle of Jagger, Richard and Wood seeking to play their roles as iconic legends of rock music at ages when the rest of us are searching for our zimmer frames and trying not to bump into the furniture … and partly an undercurrent of desperately willing them to further feats of rock ‘n roll greatness fuelled by a sense that “If those guys can still do it then just maybe there’s still hope for the rest of us!”
This morning, during my trawl of the newspaper websites, I noted that the music critics have generally given Hackney Diamonds an hearty “thumbs-up” in their reviews of “latest album releases” and also praised the first single from the album, entitled Angry.
Personally – having watched the official video of Angry last night – I was somewhat under-whelmed.
It seems to have come direct from “Parody City” and – for all the whizz and pizzazz of an expensively-made video that has been applied (including a provocatively half-dressed young blonde cavorting on board a slick convertible sports car) – its primary positive being only the fact that the music was at least performed by the remnants of the Rolling Stones.
I now invite Rusters to consider the Stones’ latest release via these two links:-
Firstly, a minute or so of the beginning of the live streaming of the Hackney Empire launch – courtesy of – YOUTUBE
Secondly, the aforementioned music video of the song Angry – again, courtesy of – YOUTUBE