Rebirth of the Cool
On his latest solo effort, Version, Mark Ronson has stumbled upon a sound that has evaded musicians for decades, creating a record that is unmistakably and undeniably â€šÃ„Ãºcoolâ€šÃ„Ã¹. He did so on an album composed entirely of an eclectic range of covers including the likes of Radiohead, Britney Spears, The Smiths and Coldplay.The stepson of guitarist Mick Jones (of Foreigner fame), Mark Ronson achieved proficiency on drums and guitar as a child and later began mixing as a high profile club DJ. His first album, Here Comes the Fuzz draws much of its influence from artists such as DJ Shadow and Dust Brothers-era Beastie Boys through its prolific use of obscure vinyl samples and featured artists such as Mos Def and Ghostface Killah. However, it was his production of notable British soul singers Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen that not only introduced him to the London music scene but also had considerable influence on his next release.
Ronson displays his wealth of musical knowledge through the distinctive horn arrangements appearing on nearly all of Version‘s tracks. When combined with tight, snare heavy studio drums, he creates a big band jazz feel that shows maturation from his early DJ-ing career. On the track â€šÃ„ÃºJust,â€šÃ„Ã¹ Ronson tactfully replaces the intricate guitar work of Radioheadâ€šÃ„Ã´s Jonny Greenwood with slick brass selections giving the song an uptempo feel. â€šÃ„ÃºStop Meâ€šÃ„Ã¹ as reinterpreted by Daniel Merriweather transforms The Smiths’ classic into a pulsing disco homage, although he is not entirely successful in sustaining Morrisseyâ€šÃ„Ã´s melancholy wail. Ronsonâ€šÃ„Ã´s influences range from Little Richard (on the track â€šÃ„ÃºInversionâ€šÃ„Ã¹) to the Beatles (on â€šÃ„ÃºAmyâ€šÃ„Ã¹) re-imagined by artists such as Olâ€šÃ„Ã´ Dirty Bastard, Amy Winehouse and the Daptone Horns.
Although Ronsonâ€šÃ„Ã´s covers are innovative, the very nature of the cover album (that being devoid of any original composition) limits him as a musician. Nonetheless, Version is a very good album that solidifies Mark Ronsonâ€šÃ„Ã´s status as a great producer.