The new Rolling Stones single, supposedly their best in many a decade, is called ‘Angry’. And while on the surface it seems to be about the millionth anguished plea from Mick Jagger to some unseen woman to give him a shag, it reportedly stems from Mick’s mystification as to why everybody is angry these days. I suppose he is forgetting that youth has always been in a more or less perpetual state of pre-rational, pettish fury – a fury which, back in the day Mick was canny enough to take advantage of. You may remember his incandescence at being unable to attain any satisfaction, for example, or at the unwanted ingression of an unidentified person on to the cloud he was occupying. Indeed, 30-odd years ago, Private Eye ran a spoof news article about the Rolling Stones, referring to their groundbreaking hits ‘I Wanna Jerk Off The Whole Bloody World’ and ‘Hullo Mr Freakout Devil Man’– which isn’t a bad summation of their 1960s state of mind and playing to a receptive gallery.
The single comes from their first album of new material in almost two decades, Hackney Diamonds, which is due to be released next month and has already been the recipient of a rather breathless review in the Times, where Will Hodgkinson described it as their best set of songs since the 1970s. Well sure – but that’s setting a terribly low bar. The rest of us have heard only ‘Angry’, which is the same kind of mildly pleasant, uninspired 1980s hard rock they’ve been doing since, well, 1980: what it lacks utterly is that sumptuous, beguiling swing, which the Stones had when they played the same riff over and over, smacked out of their heads, until suddenly a kind of magic emerged from the mix and Glyn Johns was summoned to press ‘record’ at last.