Jagger, Joss and Co really pack a punch

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Jagger, Joss and Co really pack a punch

Post  Admin on Fri Sep 16, 2011 9:47 am

The idea of five mega-rich superstars teaming up to make an album of rock, reggae, soul and Indian rhythms sounds like a recipe for musical disaster.

Throw in the fact that some recordings were made on board a luxury yacht tootling around the Mediterranean and you’d bet your bottom dollar on the whole project turning out to be a self-indulgent mess.

And yet, despite being the year’s most extravagant side-project, the first album by SuperHeavy - a ‘mad, alchemist-type experiment’ launched by Rolling Stone Mick Jagger and Eurythmics founder Dave Stewart - succeeds, thanks largely to the lack of ego displayed by those involved.

The idea of the supergroup is hardly new. But SuperHeavy take things further than the likes of Eric Clapton’s Cream, giving equal billing to talented artists from a series of seemingly incompatible genres.

Joining co-producers Jagger and Stewart are Devon soul diva Joss Stone, Indian film composer A. R. Rahman and reggae singer Damian Marley, the youngest son of icon Bob Marley.

It could have turned into a series of disorderly jams. But, give or take the odd track, it works, even if the band’s intoxicating rhythms occasionally take precedence over memorable tunes.

According to Jagger, SuperHeavy embarked on the recording with no preconceptions. ‘Dave wanted to make a record with as many genres as would fit,’ he says.

‘It sounded like a good idea, but I never thought it would happen. We didn’t know if it would be any good, but we hoped we’d have fun. Then, as soon as we started playing together, it gelled.’

n terms of creating a coherent sound, Marley is the key. Jagger and Stewart have worked with reggae singers before, and six of the 12 new songs here have strong reggae leanings.

With Marley’s rhythm section providing a lilting bedrock throughout, tracks such as Miracle Worker and Beautiful People are upbeat and accessible.

Stones fans will be eager to hear more familiar reference points, and Jagger - although he emerges as a team player - rekindles old glories on One Day One Night (a bluesy monologue) and Never Gonna Change (a ballad with a passing resemblance to You Can’t Always Get What You Want).

Given the uncertainty surrounding the Stones in the aftermath of Keith Richards’ candid autobiography, the change of scenery seems to have done Old Rubber Lips the world of good: he pulls out all the stops on the Stonesy rocker I Can’t Take It No More.

With all five musicians rotating lead roles, Joss Stone - at 24, the youngest member - could easily have been intimidated.

But the singer, whose career has been a stop-start affair since she burst on to the scene as a 16-year-old, rises to the occasion.

Best known for her soulful phrasing, she shows versatility by mutating into an irresistible reggae princess on Miracle Worker and dueting confidently with Jagger on I Don’t Mind.

With Stewart playing plenty of guitar, the only member whose presence is under-utilised is Oscar-winning composer Rahman.

His role revolves around building an eerie musical mood on pieces such as the title track, which opens the album by showcasing each member’s abilities.

As such, it is one of the strongest tracks here: Stewart’s reverb-soaked guitars blend seamlessly with Rahman’s Eastern-tinged atmospherics to provide a chugging, mid-tempo backdrop for Stone, Marley and Jagger’s familiar drawl.

An unorthodox mix, yes. But, in this instance, a heavyweight combination that delivers a knockout blow.


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