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Album review: SuperHeavy, 'SuperHeavy'

September 21, 2011 |  4:24 pm

All-star teams in music or sports by and large can’t match the seamless interplay of an outfit whose members have spent years together learning one another’s strengths, weaknesses and idiosyncracies. The hope is that sparks produced by a new combination of people who bring different skills to the table will outweigh any losses in organic empathy.

This collaboration between one unequivocal superstar and four bright lights from disparate fields -- Mick Jagger, Dave Stewart, Joss Stone, Damian Marley and A.R. Rahman -- yields enough inspired results to ward off fears of any cross-cultural train wrecks.

Also: SuperHeavy mixes up Jagger rock, Marley rhythms and more

“Hey captain, where do we go now?” Jagger sings in “Hey Captain,” a track on the deluxe edition (shouldn’t SuperHeavy have a superdeluxe edition?), and there’s something to be said for the visceral thrill of a journey to destinations unknown.

But the most intriguing vistas along this globe-hopping musical jaunt are the four-way intersections where Western rock and soul knowingly meet up with the sinuous rhythmic pulse of the Caribbean and the spiritual reach of Indian and Middle Eastern traditions.

That’s what the group captures out of the gate in the title track, Jagger confidently snarling over a snaking minor-key melody and throbbing beat straight out of Bollywood, while Stone’s earthy voice soars and Marley adds peppery accents with his nimble toasting.  “Satyameva Jayathe,” sung in Urdu, also locates an empathetic and invigorating meeting place for all the participants.

“I Can’t Take It No More” puts Jagger as close to Stones big-beat rock territory as he can get without Keith Richards and Charlie Watts at his side, and it’s a realm he clearly handles better than anyone.   

“Everybody come together, hear the sound” is the pitch for an expanded musical dialogue the Stone sings in the vibrant ska-rock workout “Common Ground,” a space these players inhabit more often than not, where the sum becomes greater than even these estimable parts. 

Universal Republic
Three stars (out of four)


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-- Randy Lewis