The legendary band released ‘Hackney Diamonds’ on Friday (October 20), their first studio record of new material in 18 years – by far the longest gap between releases in the band’s 60-year career.
With Jagger now having turned 80, and guitarist Keith Richards set to join him in December, the singer has been speaking to The Guardian, where he was asked whether he regrets the length of time between releases.
“Yeah, kind of,” he said. “That I wasn’t cracking the whip. Keith keeps saying in interviews, ‘When Mick’s ready to do a record, I’ll do it.’ I went, OK? If that’s all I have to say, then great! We’d got into this groove of going on big tours. But there’s no point crying about it now.”
Jagger noted that he and Richards have never stopped writing together. “I write all the time,” he said. “You’ve just got to keep writing, and now everyone [in the band] can see they can record quite easily. It was only three weeks in the studio. It’s not difficult. Too much angst went into recording before. If it’s no good, it’s no good; if that track doesn’t work, another one will. Do it!”
Jagger spoke about his memory of Watts, saying, “I miss his laconic humour. His taste in music. His elegance. His don’t-care attitude – he didn’t get intense. Keith and I get a bit intense. But Charlie wouldn’t, and it rubs off a bit – I’m not as intense as I used to be. I think about him when I’m playing, and what he would have played; whether he’d have liked this song, because I’d always bounce things off him. I’d be playing him the silly pop songs of the moment, and he’d love all that.”
The Stones picked the tracks that make up ‘Hackney Diamonds’ from a cache of around 80 songs that they had written since 2005’s ‘A Bigger Bang’. Watts’ playing can be heard on ‘Mess It Up’ and ‘Live By the Sword’, and Jagger has confirmed that it’s likely we will hear more in the future.
“[There are] some other tracks we’ve done with Charlie that’ll probably come out,” Jagger said. “So he’s kind of still there – and I hope he likes the rest of the record.”
In a four-star review of ‘Hackney Diamonds’, NME’s Alex Flood said, “If ‘Hackney Diamonds’ does round off the most successful career in rock music ever, it wouldn’t be a bad place to leave it. A natural end, but definitely not a normal one.”
On Thursday (October 19), the Stones played a surprise intimate show in New York City with Lady Gaga, in front of just 650 people.