Oct 01, 2010 Web Exclusive
The past few years have seen Mark Ronson skyrocket into the higher echelon of producer/DJ/soul/dance music pioneers. After virtually discovering Lily Allen and vaulting Amy Winehouse to fame in 2007, the native Londoner moved to Brooklyn, hooked up with The Dap-Kings, and had the balls to reinterpret classic British tunes such as Radiohead’s “Just,” The Jam’s “Pretty Green,” and The Smiths’ “Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before” as beat-driven, horn-filled, dance-party jams. And to boot, he sold a million albums doing it, all the while earning the ire of British music purists.
So, what does any self-respecting musician/DJ/producer extraordinaire do when he’s latched onto something that’s captivated so many, so thoroughly? He switches things up. For the follow-up to 2007’s Version, Ronson decided to eschew the horn blasts and irreverent covers for a hip-hop/dance-oriented album of original tunes and collaborations that somehow manages to outshine the excellence of his previous work. Famous players show up here as they did on Version—Q-Tip, Boy George, Ghostface Killah, Duran Duran’s Simon Le Bon and Nick Rhodes, and soul legend/recluse D’Angelo—but Record Collection is far from a starstruck cash-in. “The Bike Song,” featuring vocals by Spank Rock, recalls a cheeky pop innocence not dissimilar to Pink Floyd’s song of a similar name, albeit bouncing on a dance beat. The oh-so-very ’80s “You Gave Me Nothing” is held up by vocal performances by Andrew Wyatt (Miike Snow) and Rose Elinor Dougall (ex-The Pipettes). Le Bon, Rhodes, and Ronson himself call out Ronson’s perceived jet-set paparazzi lifestyle in the endlessly catchy title track. Ghostface Killah adds a vicious rhyme to the skittering “Lose It (In the End),” and, in the biggest coup of them all, Ronson resurrects D’Angelo from the grave for the brilliantly psychedelic soul of “Glass Mountain Trust.” The highlights here are too many to mention. With Record Collection, Ronson proves that he can succeed without gimmicks. And in doing so, he reaches newfound heights. (www.markronson.co.uk)
Author rating: 8/10
Average reader rating: 7/10