The Rolling Stones – Sweet Sounds Of Heaven

17th October 2023 · 2020s, 2023, Music, Rock'n'Roll

The Rolling Stones channel their vintage heyday with guest performers Stevie Wonder and Lady Gaga on a bluesy gospel-flavoured new tune, Sweet Sounds Of Heaven, from their new album Hackney Diamonds.

And then there were three… There’s been a lot of hyperbole about the new Stones album, saying it’s their “best since Some Girls” (just as there always is). And the first single, Angry, was surprisingly good, albeit a flimsy update on Start Me Up.

Even the video was a nostalgic throwback – very Stones, very Jagger – with its pretty girl leaping about in an open top car cruising down Sunset Strip as Mick postures and Ronnie and Keith duel with their electric guitars.

But this bluesy, soulful, gospelly number’s honestly better than anything on Some Girls – which wasn’t that great anyway compared to their late Sixties/early Seventies peak with Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers and Exile On Main Street.

It starts off sounding like an update on Heart Of Stone before settling into a similar groove to You Can’t Always Get What You Want, and the stop-start ending (on this extended version) prompts some vintage Jagger vocalising. I don’t know how he does it at the age of 80.

The piano (and Moog, and Fender Rhodes) is by Stevie Wonder and those backing vocals are by Lady Gaga. When I heard they were guests I had a sinking feeling, because guest spots rarely improve anything.
But they both earn their places, especially Gaga – especially on the call-and-response bit at the end, which is reminiscent of Merry Clayton’s joyful vocals on Gimme Shelter.

Anyway, I don’t want to go too crazy with the hyperbole, but I am really enjoying this – and I really didn’t expect to.