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Mark Ronson - Versions
|Mark Ronson proved himself as a DJ quite some time ago. His Here Comes the Fuzz impressed on multiple fronts, and its “Ooh Wee (Feat. Ghostface Killah, Nate Dogg, and Trife)” rocketed up charts in both the United Kingdom and the United States. Unfortunately, a stellar first CD doesn’t always lead to an equally impressive sophomore effort.|
On Versions, Ronson covers songs by artists ranging from Radiohead to Britney Spears and all the way back around to Ryan Adams. If nothing else, he shows his vast knowledge of pop music by selecting an impressive slew of songs to recreate. Sadly, most end up worse than the originals.
Much of the failure stems from insufficient vocal work. Case in point: Mark’s rework of Britney Spears’s “Toxic.” Though he cleverly samples Ol’ Dirty Bastard rumbling along the rehashed beat, accompanying singing seems excessively tired and bored. Thus, it comes off as boring for the listener as well. A similar situation unfolds as Amy Winehouse struggles mightily to adequately mimic the vocals of the Zutons’ Dave McCabe. She fails to do so, and Ronson’s version of “Valerie” consequently flops.
Of course, exceptions to the rule exist. Phantom Planet’s Alex Greenwald somehow manages to master the lyrical task set before him in Radiohead’s “Just.” This makes the track a surprising triumph. More expectedly, Lily Allen takes Kaiser Chief’s “Oh My God” and runs roughshod over it, often trumping Ricky Wilson’s work on the original. These two tunes thrive since their vocal tracks excite.
Still, the best songs are those that feature their original vocalists. Paul Smith of Maxïmo Park proves this in Ronson’s rendition of the band’s already stellar “Apply Some Pressure.” Smith’s relatively natural vocals on the track allow Mark’s energies put forth to shine. Therefore the song beautifully unfolds into an energetic banger.
However, not all of the blame lies on the insufficiency of the vocalists. Though Mark Ronson intrigues listeners by replacing the original tracking of various tunes with an amalgamation of string and horn lines, it soon begins to bore. It proves phenomenally interesting at first due to its uniqueness and jovial nature, but the lack of diversity allows for its downfall. An album cannot subsist on such frolicking instrumentals alone, and the lack of impressive singing means instrumental work must interest fans throughout. The redundant horn work simply fails to do so. Therefore neither vocals nor instrumental work manage to hook listeners into Ronson’s latest efforts.
One can tell from Versions that Mark Ronson is in fact a quite talented artist. His attention to detail and creative use of instruments impress throughout. However, the redundancy of the disc irritates quite quickly. One can only hope that on his next time around Ronson will harness that potential and funnel it into a more impressive record.
01:00 PM on 06/25/07
I couldn't get into this release
09:15 AM on 06/30/07
I enjoyed a couple of songs. the Phantom Planet dude killed Just by Radiohead
12:37 PM on 07/17/07
i thought that was a great collaboration between Andrew and Mark.
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