State of the Arts

Re-start me up: Is this The Rolling Stones’ last chance to make another great album?

As the legacy rock band prepare to launch a new album, The Rolling Stones are the latest of several acts to look at their seventies and beyond as an opportunity to start over. Ed Power looks at how the legends use old age as a chance to be young again

Friday 08 September 2023 13:00 BST
<p>Rather than looking back, the Stones roll ever onward</p>

Rather than looking back, the Stones roll ever onward

The Rolling Stones’s comeback single, “Angry”, is not a song haunted by the possibility of failure. It is full-throttle Mick and Keef karaoke, with its “Start Me Up”-ish riffs and a video mainly consisting of the camera hugging the bum of Sydney Sweeney – the zeitgeisty star of cult TV shows Euphoria and White Lotus – as she drives around Los Angeles.

At first blush, then, it’s a relatively predictable return from this crumbling Mount Rushmore of classic rock (whose fourth pillar, drummer Charlie Watts, passed away two years ago). Most Stones fans have despaired of the group ever regaining the monstrous creativity that powered them through the Sixties and Seventies. On hearing this formulaic retread, they might be tempted to – yet again – abandon all hope as they look ahead to the accompanying LP, Hackney Diamonds, due 20 October.

But to write off the album would be premature. Jagger has gone out of his way to promise that this set of new songs will be special – implying, after 40 solid years of undercooked Stones records, that it might be different this time. (1981’s Tattoo You is considered their last essential cut, despite being a collection of older, semi-completed outtakes hastily stitched together in the studio at the last minute). “I didn’t want to make an album that was just an assembly of what we had done over the past five years,” Jagger said in a new interview. “Three good tracks, five OK, three mediocre”.

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