By Brett Essler
Gave the album a spin on the treadmill today and I started to daydream about the kind of advice I might have given SuperHeavy had I been asked.
SuperHeavy, according to Dave Stewart, is "a mad alchemist type experiment." I take that to mean: if there is a reggae style song, we'll add some Bollywood synth strings; if we have a soaring Bollywood style anthem, we'll add some toasting. And that is the very problem with the record, it never goes far enough, weird enough, to really sound like a bold experiment.
"Satyameva Jayathe" is (mostly) sung in Urdu by A.R. Rahman. It has an anthemic chorus that would be familiar if you've heard his score to Slumdog Millionaire. How Stewart and Jagger "alchemize" the song is to add a pointless Joss Stone verse and even more pointless Damian Marley rap verse.
What might have made this song interesting? Strip away the music and create a spaced out, Lee "Scratch" Perry-style dub mix. Instant stoner chillout classic!
"Never Gonna Change" is essentially a solo Jagger track produced in the style of so many country-soul ballads he's nailed in the past ("Wild Horses," "Faraway Eyes"). It sticks out like a sore thumb here, but what if Stewart found some killer reggae cats and cut it to analog tape in a Jamaican shack? (See Keith Richards' brilliant Wingless Angels collab or Damon Albarn's field recording-sourced Mali Music.)
Taking a few chances wouldn't have hurt sales. In fact, it probably would have improved them.