Mark Ronson is a celebrated British DJ and producer…he produced tracks on Lily Allen’s delightful Alright, Still and half of the tracks on Amy Winehouse’s wondrous Back to Black…and here he steps into the spotlight with Version, the second CD released under his own name.
But Ronson doesn’t hog that spotlight, even though he plays a variety of roles on Version (guitar, bass, keyboards, percussion, beats) he invites many of his friends to the party and is a very generous host. The disc is full of covers of songs (along with three short but punchy instrumental originals…“Inversion”, “Diversion”, and “Outversion”…interspersed along the way) remade into a dazzling, enormously entertaining, party-ready suite of R&B and dance-tinged hard pop.
The Daptone Horns kick things off on the right foot by guest-starring on the opening instrumental version of Coldplay’s “God Put a Smile Upon Your Face” and the cool vibe continues into the playful take on the Kaiser Chiefs’ “Oh My God” with vocals by Lily Allen.
Daniel Merriweather takes the lead vocals on “Stop Me”, a medley of the Smiths’ “Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before” and the Supremes’ “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”, which is fine enough while the only track that kind of drags in a cover of Britney Spears’ “Toxic” featuring Tiggers and the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard.
The mighty Ms. Winehouse steps up and knocks the old school R&B jam version of “Valerie” (originally done by the Zutons) right out of the park. Paul Smith of
Santo Gold is featured on a version of The Jam’s “Pretty Green” that sounds like a long-lost cut from the days when the Talking Heads had recast themselves as a big funk band while Phantom Planet kicks into a sweet groove with their guest spot on the cover of Radiohead’s “Just”. Kenna is featured on a version of Ryan Adams’ “Amy” that sounds like a dance remix of a George Harrison song (and still it works :-)
With the horns sizzling, the singers giving their best shots, and the beats consistently strong and compelling, Ronson delivers a fun album that could keep any party jumping.
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