When the Rolling Stones officially announced Hackney Diamonds — their first album of original material in 18 years — and released lead single “Angry,” the band teased some high-profile guests on the LP. Two of them converge on the Stones’ new single out today. “Sweet Sounds Of Heaven” is a slow-burn gospel-inflected ballad that features both Lady Gaga and Stevie Wonder, though Gaga’s howling contributions are a lot more obvious to the naked ear. (Wonder plays Fender Rhodes, Moog and piano on the song.)
Mick Jagger told Apple Music’s Zane Lowe about featuring Gaga on the song:
…she’s a really great singer and I’d never heard her sing quite that style before. Not exactly. We did it live in the room and that was a great experience, her just coming in the room and her just opening up and seeing her bits and feeling her way and then getting more confident. And then we came back and then did some extra parts that we hadn’t done on the day and then we did some tidying up and we were just in the overdub room, really face-to-face, getting them really tight, the parts really tight, and then being slightly competitive and screaming.
Jagger also offered this background on the making of the song:
It’s all played live. And of course we did overdubs, but it’s all played in the room. Yeah, there’s that moment, especially in that session where we had Stevie, and you’re feeling your way out a little bit and then you do that soul ending, which is you do sometimes on stage where you stop and you start. It’s very kind of tried and tested redoubling thing. But, yeah, I mean, it really feels like, yeah, it is played live… it was a good moment… we played it with Keith and Ronnie when we were in The Bahamas when we more or less finished everything. But we hadn’t mixed it then, so then we mixed it, I mixed it with the mixer and Andy [Andrew Watt] and we were in three places. And then when we finished mixing it, we had a sort of three-way playback. And, yeah, it’s a really good moment when you play something. And it’s always a great moment when you play it back like that. And, “Wow, we finished it and it sounds really good, and we’re pleased with it.” Because if we hadn’t been pleased with it, we’ve had to have change it. You’ve got to choose the right songs because we recorded a lot more songs than this. And then to choose a set of songs, these aren’t necessarily even, you might prefer one than the other, but they will come out. The other ones will come out. But choose a good balance of the songs you’ve recorded.
Listen to both a five-minute and seven-minute version of “Sweet Sounds Of Heaven” below.
Hackney Diamonds is out 10/20 on Geffen. It’s nice that Keith Richards allowed Gaga on the track even though he recently told Telegraph he hates modern pop and rap music.