Album review: SuperHeavy, SuperHeavy

Posted: September 21, 2011 in Album Reviews

SuperHeavy is a supergroup containing five artists from distinctly different backgrounds and age groups. A project conceived by Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger and his producer buddy and former Eurythmic Dave Stewart, the group brings together a variety of sounds that wouldn’t necessarily always mesh.
Reggae toaster and Bob Marley’s youngest son Damian Marley, neo-soul singer Joss Stone and renowned Indian composer A.R. Rahman (who wrote the score to Slumdog Millionaire) are the other members of the outfit, which released its first album this week.
The group’s name came from the album’s opening track, a heavy (how convenient) reggae-rock-classical-dance fusion track in which all five members shine without stepping on each other’s toes. Marley leads off the track and came up with the song’s hook, Jagger and Stone each deliver verses, Rahman sings some Sanskrit passages and does the orchestration, while Stewart plays guitar and produces the track. It’s a high-quality opener and a proper introduction to the band.
“Unbelievable” contains some Mideastern flavor backing a more conventional pop song. Jagger and Marley (the two members with the most natural charisma) give the track and the rest of the album oodles of machismo and flavor. You keep coming back to this track, which along with lead single “Miracle Worker” forms quite the triumvirate as far as openings to albums go.
“Miracle Worker” is another song featuring everyone, with Marley and Stone especially shining. Stone, the youngest member at 24 and the only female in the group, holds her own with her elder bandmates. Her emotive singing adds proper spice throughout the proceedings.
“Energy” is dominated by Marley and Jagger, who each deliver spirited vocal parts. The rapid-fire vocal passages are as close to rapping as you’ll ever get from a Rolling Stone. Like its namesake indicates, the song overflows with verve and excitement.
“Satyameva Jayathe” is where Rahman gets a spotlight, both vocally and lyrically. It surely has an Indian feel, but it’s transformed into something else entirely when the other members show up for the fun.
“Never Gonna Change” sounds like a long-lost Stones ballad, with Jagger giving an emotional performance over Stewart’s guitar backing. No studio trickery here, and it’s the only track where just two members of the band are featured.
The last half of the album prevents the collection from truly being great. “I Can’t Take it No More” is the obligatory rocker, but it never really gets off the ground with its political posturing and forgettable hook.
“Beautiful People” and “Rock Me Gently” meander a bit too long for my liking, while “World Keeps Turning” offers too many tired cliches.
Still, the album has good intentions and is a great deal of fun to listen to. The first half is great, but ultimately there aren’t enough killer tracks to make it the masterpiece it could have been.

Sod rating: *** 1/2

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