Superheavy – Superheavy (Universal)

Superheavy, in case you haven’t been paying attention, is the new “supergroup”
featuring Mick Jagger, Joss Stone, Damian Marley (son of Bob), former Eurythmic Dave Stewart and Oscar-winning Indian composer A.R. Rahman.

This seemingly random group of musicians has seen fit to record an album together; filled with 12 original songs they wrote and recorded earlier this year.

These types of projects usually elicit one of two initial reactions. There’s the cynical, “this is just a cash-grabbing business venture” approach. And there’s the more naive, “Gee, this is going to be amazing, look at the talent involved” attitude. Both are understandable, especially in this case, but of course reality falls somewhere in-between.

If you are at all interested in this “band”, then you probably have already heard, or seen the video for, the first single, Miracle Worker. The tune has a loping reggae beat, a catchy chorus and vocal performances by everyone, except Stewart who plays guitar on the album and co-produced with Jagger. It’s a pleasant enough ditty, although both Stone and Jagger sound forced when their turns come up to the mic.

As it turns out, Miracle Worker is a good indication of what’s good and bad about this album. Most of the songs have an easy-going, reggae-based beat, they are somewhat memorable, but Stone, and particularly Jagger, spoil things by over-singing.

Listen to Never Gonna Change. It’s a blues ballad that sounds a bit like The Stones’ Wild Horses. Jagger sings the entire song and enunciates the lyrics to death. His voice is also mixed too far over the music and he comes across as abrasive every time he opens his mouth.

When Stone and Jagger sing together, their voices do blend nicely, but that doesn’t happen often enough. Marley’s contribution seems to be rapping, or toasting, over the generic beats laid down by his rhythm section of drummer Courtney Diedrick and bass player Shiah Coore. Also added into the mix is violin player Ann Marie Calhoun.

Rahman’s input sounds negligible. He wrote the track, Satyameva Jayathe and sings it in Urdu, and throws in an Indian-sounding riff or two throughout the other tracks.

Jagger, Stewart and Stone have all worked together in the past. None of that was particularly interesting (soundtrack to Alfie, anyone?) and, unfortunately, neither is this.

Everyone, please, return to your day jobs.

Marty Duda

Click here to listen to Never Gonna Change from Superheavy