It’s a tragedy when North American society rejects foreign musicians simply because they don’t fit in with whatever current fad is being blasted through the radio. If you have visited any bar or club in Europe over the last three months, particularly in the U.K., than you were most likely to hear Mark Ronson‘s “Bang Bang Bang,” his electronic pop/rap score that features sensational New York duo MNDR, and the legendary Q-Tip. It’s certainly a change of scenery since Ronson’s last full length, Version, an album devoted entirely to covers of British musicians (except for the rendition of Britney Spears’ “Toxic”) and though debuted at #2 on the U.K. Chart, unsurprisingly did not make any impact on North American soil.
Record Collection, his third studio album, is the first to feature the moniker Business International and the first for Ronson to provide some vocals of his own. Known primarily as the renowned producer who did Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black, Ronson steps out of his niche on this record, incorporating synths instead of horns and even inviting a couple of Americans to support the steady rotation of British artists, including Rose Elinor Dougall of the Pipettes and Theophilus London. Sadly, the degenerates and clumsy music critics on this side of the map still fail to give Ronson the praise and respect he deserves, especially after releasing a collection of songs this exemplary.
Mark Ronson has always been first and foremost a producer/DJ and aficionado of vintage music. His influences are reflective via his production, whether it be British cult bands The Cure and The Smiths, or modern day conscious rappers Mos Def and members of Wu-Tang. Ronson’s flair for combining these two opposing sounds is what makes him so distinctive; a flair that is no doubt intensified on his third full length. Record Collection is an album that never slows down or loses its relevancy to pop music. Ronson starts off with the explosive “Bang Bang Bang,” the fun summer anthem that merges electro pop and off beat drum patterns with a chorus sung in French by Amanda Warner of MNDR. Maintaing that same level of high intensity, the next two tracks provide an equal supply of popitude including “Lose It,” the swivelling country western rap jam where Ronson sings the chorus, accompanied with some mean verses by Ghostface, and “The Bike Song,” the jovial eco-friendly groove with Spank Rock and Kyle Falconer. Even the love ballads here are brimming with pop and hip hop like the impassioned “Somebody To Love Me” and synth oeuvre “Glass Mountain Trust” where D’Angelo sounds more like Cee-Lo doing a Marvin Gaye impression.
Though Ronson’s trying to appeal to an American audience, Record Collection is undoubtedly more relevant to British culture; the London Gay Men’s Choir appear on the gloomy “Introducing the Business,” Simon Le Bon of celebrated Brit pop group Duran Duran sings on “Record Collection” alongside veteran Nottingham rapper Wiley, who is indeed unheard of in these parts. It’s advantageous to view this album as a collection of “records” rather than as a proper LP with a beginning and end. As individual songs, they are all pretty much amazing (hint hint) but as an album, they do lack a certain bit of construction, which could be the reason why Americans haven’t picked this up yet. With pop gems as certain as “The Bike Song” and “Bang Bang Bang” though, it really remains a mystery why.
RECORD COLLECTION READER RATING