If 2011 were not also a year in which Lou Reed was about to release a collaborative album with Metallica, SuperHeavy would surely be its strangest musical team-up.
The group, which includes Sir Mick Jagger, Joss Stone, Damian Marley (son of Bob), AR Rahman (the Indian composer of film scores, including Slumdog Millionaire) and Dave Stewart (of The Eurythmics) combine to make a kind-of ethno-reggae pop. And guess what? It's not nearly as ghastly as it sounds.
The strange mix is evident from the opening track, SuperHeavy, as Indian strings wash over Jamaican rhythms and Stone's wail backs up Marley's raspy, low-key vocal.
The first single, Miracle Worker, has the most sickly sweet chorus you'll hear all year - but, despite being chock-full of superstar singers, somehow never feels crowded. Stuart, who produced the album as well as put the band together, surely deserves credit for this. There are missteps, too, however, such as the wonky electronica of Unbelievable.
But the album quickly redeems itself with the Hindu cheer of Satyameva Jayathe and the acoustic rock number Never Gonna Change. SuperHeavy offers enough variety and skill, that even when cloying, at least it's never dull. Somewhat reminiscent of the former empire from which all of its members hail, the collaboration might not be remembered a good thing overall, but you've got to admire its ambition.