08 April 2007

MARK RONSON - Version - 2007 - Album review

MARK RONSON – Version – 2007 – Album review
HIGHLIGHTS: Oh My God (feat. Lily Allen)/ Amy (feat. Kenna)/ L.S.F. (feat. Kasabian)
SOUNDBITE: Stop me if you think that you’ve heard this one before…

Covering a song’s always a bit risky isn’t it? I mean - you might be loved for what you’ve done with the original…but there’s an even chance you’ll be fucking despised for your outrage. All the more respect for Ronson’s courage then, as he goes fully ‘balls out’ here with his stated intention of producing a whole LP of covers of everyone from Britney Spears to The Jam. In the style of seventies Motown or Stax… In order to make good on such borderline hubris Ronson makes heavy use on the LP of The Daptone Horns. Indeed these boys get to kick the whole thing off by featuring on a version of Coldplay’s God Put A Smile On Your Face which lifted my features – because firstly (and a reason in itself to celebrate) Ronson has made a Coldplay song NOT sound bland. It isn’t a great track - but I’d blame that more on the poor quality of the source material. In fact, Coldplay’s inability to generate anything other than a tedious dirge to accompany Chris Martin’s whiny yodelling drivel brings me to a second reason to be cheerful – the fact that this in an instrumental. Things look up more on Oh My God with Lily Allen making the Kaiser Chief’s number so much her own that it sounds pretty much like something off Alright Still which is fine by me. Singles Stop Me (a kind of diet-Crazy by Gnarls Barkley track) and Britney cover Toxic follow. The more I listen to these, the more the first grows on me and the second becomes almost as annoying as Britney herself – though originally – it was the other way around. ODB’s resurrected vocal on Toxic is about as exciting as the sax and Tiggers’ voice have become irritating. Amy Winehouse’s Valerie on the other hand will neither offend Zutons fans (a pity) nor piss off lovers of original Motown stuff and this is the one track on the LP that sounds closest to the sound Ronson was aiming for. Shame it’s not a breakbeat track. Maximo Park’s Apply Some Pressure just sounds like Dexys Midnight Runners (if you don’t know – don’t ask) and makes me scramble for the skip control. Inversion is a very short instrumental followed by Santo Gold on The Jam’s Pretty Green which sounds less like Motown and more like Amazulu (again – if you don’t know don’t ask), while Radiohead’s Just - featuring OC-soundtrack bitches Phantom Planet - is so impressively forgettable that it I can’t remember what I was going to say about it. However, Ryan Adam’s Amy has a wicked buttered-soul bass-line and Kenna’s vocals give it an early nineties ‘Madchester’ feel (plus horns) and appropriately enough it is juxtaposed with The Only One I know where Robbie Williams manages the incredible feat of having an even weedier voice than Tim Burgess on the original by the Charlatans. Ronson then does one of his musical interludes again which merges into a version of Kasabian’s monster track L.S.F. featuring vocals by – er – Kasabian. And horns. So, less a cover than remix then. It says something for what Ronson has done with this that I’ll forgive his losing the organ break (my favourite bit of the original) and coming up with the best track on the LP which is followed only by a final instrumental inspiringly named Outversion. Now, about that ‘Motown/ Stax claim – I’m afraid it has to be said that Ronson’s attempts at recreating ‘breakbeat soul’ aren’t particularly convincing because a) just giving everything a horn section maketh not the funk, b) none of the singers (apart from Amy Winehouse) sound like a Motown or Stax artist and c) his beats are the product of a hip-hop / big beat club DJ sensibility and thus at times have all the subtlety of Ronald McDonald at a funeral - unlike real Motown. But that’s not to say it’s bad, because there are actually a few good moments on this and if you like clubbing and horn sections and indie-pop across the decades (and I suspect quite a lot of people will discover that’s them) - I imagine you’ll want to give this a go. Released April 16 2007
Listen to Mark Ronson - Version
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Lyrics - Mark Ronson - Version

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