NEW YORK (Reuters) - Dave Stewart went to the hilltop and called on a higher rock star -- Mick Jagger. Thus began Superheavy, a project shrouded in secrecy for two years and now with one album released this week to its credit
Stewart, founder of the Eurythmics, rang the Rolling Stones frontman from a hilltop in Jamaica with the idea of forming a super group from different genres.
They brought together British soul singer Joss Stone, reggae artist Damian Marley and composer A.R. Rahman, the Oscar-winning composer behind the "Slumdog Millionaire" score, to form Superheavy, which produced a record of the same name.
They tested the idea with a two-hour studio session in Los Angeles two years ago, producing what Stewart called "this huge noise."
"That gave us a lot of confidence," Jagger told Reuters with all his bandmates, except Marley, the youngest son of the late Bob Marley. "We got a lot of songs. It wasn't just jams and noise. We had a lot of songs, choruses, all this stuff going that really made us feel better about moving on."
Two, separate 10-day studio sessions followed when nearly all the recording took place. After two years of mixing and arranging -- including artwork by Shepard Fairey, who created the "Hope" poster of Barack Obama -- a record was born.
Not surprisingly given the band's makeup, Superheavy the album is a sort of mash-up of styles. In a four-star review, Rollingstone.com calls the track "Energy" a U2-style synth-pop jam, and says "Satyameva Jayathe" has Jagger and Rahman singing Hindi verses over a Celtic-Indian fiddle.
Other songs include the title track "Superheavy" and "Miracle Worker," a video of which is posted on YouTube, has a reggae beat and features Marley, Stone and Jagger all singing on an urban street, complete with Indian dancers.
In its early review, the Washington Post writes, "'SuperHeavy' features a little bit of everything -- corporate rock, Indian pop sung in Urdu and a rapping Jagger. Save for a raggedy ragga vibe, there's no connective tissue holding these songs together."
"Superheavy" is unlikely to share the lasting success of the Stones' hit albums like "Exile on Main Street," Eurythmics' singles such as "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" or maybe even Joss Stone's CD "Mind, Body & Soul," but the record certainly appears to have entertained the five artists behind it.
"I didn't get any special treatment," Stone said of being the only woman in the group. "I feel like I'm one of the lads. I like that."
And the formation of Superheavy seems to be a whimsical experiment that satisfied the musicians enough to release the record -- even after two years of work.
"We didn't know which way it was going to come out, or if it was going to come out at all," Stewart said. "If we didn't like it we could just throw it away. We weren't under any contract or anything."
(Reporting by Alicia Powell; Writing by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)