Mark Ronson, Version
As any Amy Winehouse or Lily Allen fan will know, Mark Ronson is an undeniably fantastic producer. Since his hip hop days (remember single ‘Ooh Wee’?) he has provided countless rap, soul and pop artists with his unique production. On paper then, an album of covers recreated Ronson-style sounds like a recipe for monster record sales and stacks of five star reviews.
The first half of Version ticks all the boxes – tracks by Coldplay, Britney and The Zutons blossom into oddball gems heavy on horns and percussion and heavier on sunny Stax vibes and fingerclickin’ good rhythm. The Jam’s ‘Pretty Green’ is turned inside out and suddenly makes perfect sense as a dancehall nursery rhyme.
By the second half though, horn fatigue sets in and the whole exercise starts to drift. A bland remake of Maximo Park’s ‘Apply Some Pressure’ and a totally pointless version of ‘LSF’ that appears to have left the original Kasabian vocal intact let the album fizzle out. Radiohead classic ‘Just’ is annihilated by Phantom Planet; a whiny vocal that’s a mere impression of Thom Yorke lets down the inventive production. The music on its own is perfect, but Lily Allen’s drippy voice can’t quite lift her cover above mediocre and Robbie Williams’ lukewarm appearance is a real clanger. Still, there are some definite jewels here – get Version on Itunes, but don’t bother with the second half.