Mark Ronson and the Business International–Record Collection
He made his name producing other people’s albums, but with 2007’s Version Mark Ronson became a pop star name in his own right – albeit a pop star who was still famous for producing other people’s songs. Now with Record Collection he presents his first attempt at a mainstream album of his own work – and it ain’t half bad.
Being Mark Ronson, Record Collection still relies on a dizzying list of collaborators (a skilled producer and multi-instrumentalist he may be, but a singer he is not!), but now he’s ditched those annoying brass sections we get to hear exactly what Mark Ronson as an artist sounds like. Record Collection is a smooth, highly polished pop album that mixes elements of soul, hip-hop and retro pop into an entertaining, if occasionally flawed, whole. It also demonstrates Ronson’s talent at uniting a seemingly disparate group of collaborators into a cohesive unit. The likes of Boy George and Simon Le Bon join a long list of contributors that includes Q-Tip, Rose Elinor Dougall, Kyle Falconer, Andrew Wyatt, Ghostface Killah, Jonathan Pierce and Jake Shears.
‘Bang Bang Bang’ and ‘The Bike Song’, the first two singles, perfectly showcase the albums different qualities – one is an infectious dance-pop number with a hint of hip-hop while the other is a totally unique and idiosyncratic pop song. ‘Somebody To Love Me’ and ‘You Gave Me Nothing’ (both featuring The Pipettes Rose Elinor Dougall and Miike Snow’s Andrew Wyatt) follow ‘Bang Bang Bang’s’ infectious pop lead and throw in a bit of soul for good measure – the former featuring a surprisingly majestic turn from Boy George on vocals. ‘Glass Mountain Trust’ falls more into the distinctive and unique category, with Ronson whipping up a cascade of synths in an effort to keep up with D’Angelo’s valiant Cee-Lo Green impersonation.
Despite brilliant vocals from Boy George and D’Angelo, the award for best contributor goes to Rose Elinor Dougall. As well as shimmering her way through ‘Somebody To Love Me’ and ‘You Gave Me Nothing’, her impact on the otherwise routine electro-pop number ‘Hey Boy’ (also featuring Theophilus London) is captivating and suggests that Ronson may well have found another muse in the mould of old cohorts Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen.
While most of Record Collection sparkles with invention and dazzling vocal contributions, some of it falls flat. The three instrumental songs (‘The Colour Of Crumar’, ‘Circuit Breaker’ and ‘Selector’) sound as though they’ve been lifted from a retro computer game, while even Simon Le Bon’s heroic chorus can’t gloss over Ronson’s mangled delivery of the title track’s tongue in cheek verses.
On the whole though, Record Collection manages to achieve its main aim of proving Mark Ronson has more to offer than just putting horns over other people’s songs – which can only bode well for whatever he turns his hand to next.