Surely a supergroup with the word ‘super’ in it must be the greatest supergroup of all time, right? Wrong. The line-up of Superheavy headed by one Mick Jagger is diva Joss Stone, Damien (son of Bob) Marley, Eurythmic’s guitarist Dave Stewart and Indian singer, composer and producer A.R. Rahman. On paper this has potential, but is rather, an unsuccessful attempt to cram too many genres into one album.
Despite the aim of bringing together different styles of music, the album is overwhelmingly reggae, occasionally infused with Bollywood style music (given the presence of Rahman), not to mention occasional dippings into rock and Irish folk. The Bollywood aspect is quite interesting at times. Listen to the eponymous opener, as the dance hall master Damien Marley gives it his all: ‘SUPER’EAVY’ while the Bollywood swirls and rises. The problem with the song, as with most of the album, is the hand-the-mic-around-the-group motion, which makes it almost impossible to identify favourite songs, particularly when Joss Stone insists on warbling consistently, including on the lacklustre Rock Me Gently.
The lead single Miracle Worker is quite over the top, particularly Jagger’s staccato reggae singing. Stone continues to irritate with over-enthusiastic soulful singing and ‘woooos’; even Marley’s contribution is a little tiresome, especially when he introduces the band with almost complete amazement at this formation of characters: ‘Imagine!’ – [insert scorn]. What is perhaps more excessive than the song itself is Jagger’s choice of suit. Is there really a need for a 68 year old awkwardly gyrating at a street party in loud pink?
Jagger’s contribution is certainly entertaining. When he sings on Unbelievable and I Don’t Mind, you may begin to enjoy yourself, and believe that the album is Mick’s to play around with, until Joss interrupts in a diva fit, or when Marley stamps his presence over Jagger’s comparatively fading voice. The best song on the album, is Jagger’s solo effort, Never Going To Change, which has smatterings of Angie and No Expectations about it, making you wish that he was a bit more characteristically selfish with the microphone. To his credit, this generosity is Jagger stepping out of his comfort zone, seen elsewhere on One Day, One Night and the A. R. Rahman fronted Satyameva Jayate, which starts off brightly with Rahman singing in Urdu but soon descends into Irish fiddle folk madness. Unfortunately, Sir Mick also commits a massive O.A.F.P (Old Aged Faux Pas) in attempting to rap on Energy and Hey Captain, which sounds more like a gibbering maniac you would purposefully cross the street to avoid.
One feels that Marley’s presence on the album is almost a way of cementing the reggae. He does his hype-man job very well, and steals the show on songs like Superheavy, Energy and the otherwise atrocious Beautiful People where Jagger and Stone taking it turns to sing about beautiful people (surprisingly), while Damien thinks ‘Dad’s done this already, and did it much better’ and mercifully interjects at the right time to save this song from the murky depths of white reggae fail#152. Similarly, Rahman’s contribution is an enjoyable aspect of the album, but ruined by the untimely interruptions from the rest of the supernoise, like in Unbelievable. Dave Stewart, whose original vision to capture the sound of Jamaica with Indian Bollywood, is largely responsible for these fusions and indeed the creation of Superheavy. Despite the dramatic shortcomings, there should be credit to Dave, for attempting something different; for initially seeking out Mick’s help, and then enduring him.
But wait there’s more. There is still time for a couple of generic political numbers. I Can’t Take It No More sounds like it should be an ‘in your face, two fingers to the man’ kind of song, but the guitar riff is predictable, the lyrics lazy, and features a laughable introduction where Stone trills: ‘WAAAAAOOOOYEEEEEAAAAHHH WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON?’. The hands-waving-slowly-in-the-air World Keeps Turning closing the album hears Stone hamming up her warbling to full effect singing about babies dying for dollar signs. It’s bland, unimaginative and complete garbage, signalling the plummet of promise since the album’s opener, Superheavy.
The album has potential, but unfortunately Superheavy’s debut is a case of too many chefs – the recipe seemingly smudged on the back of Dave Stewart’s hand. Flashes of innovation are drowned out by dire, insipid lyrics and Stone’s favourite contribution. There may be plenty of talent, but this offering demonstrates that not all Supergroups can be super.
Superheavy is out now on Universal Music