This is what happens when Mick Jagger tries to stick it to Keith Richards. An admirable attempt to stretch beyond the massive machinery (and never-ending backbiting) of The Rolling Stones, the “supergroup” SuperHeavy finds the 68-year-old singer creatively restless and apparently clueless about how to find new, suitable collaborators. Teaming up with a head-scratching assemblage of B-listers—reggae scion Damian Marley, tiresome British soul-belter Joss Stone, synth-pop star and long-time producer Dave Stewart, and composer A.R. Rahman—Jagger gamely submits his artistic will to the group dynamic, content to just be another voice in a stew of Jamaican rhythms, hip-hop attitude, generic hard-rock guitars, bluesy wails, and whatever else is in the kitchen sink.
SuperHeavy appears to have been conceived by a schizophrenic five-headed beast rather than a disciplined bandleader with a coherent vision. Jagger could’ve been that leader, but he chose (unwisely, as it turns out) to let this project unfold like a loose jam session among strange bedfellows. The main problem with SuperHeavy is that Jagger has surrounded himself with less-talented people, and entrusted them with creative freedom they haven’t earned. Perhaps he was just excited about being invited to play with the kids for a change. But given that Jagger is a true titan responsible for scores of iconic songs, it’s simply inexcusable for him not to take the reins on SuperHeavy when the project clearly needed it.
Jagger is still a convincing singer and spry performer, turning in a touching vocal on the straight-up gospel number “Never Gonna Change.” But most of SuperHeavy is frankly unlistenable, lacking even the professionalism and solid chops of late-period Stones records. At this point, Mick Jagger has earned a free pass for disasters like SuperHeavy. But singing reggae songs with Joss Stone is really pushing it, pal.