It must be nice to have Mark Ronson’s Rolodex. Well, it would be if people still used Rolodexes. His stepdad is Foreigner’s Mick Jones. He’s been buds with Sean Lennon since childhood. He’s a celebrity DJ of note, and he’s also a Grammy-winning producer (Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black”), whose first couple of albums boasted collaborations with everyone from Ghostface Killah and Anthony Hamilton to Robbie Williams and Ol’ Dirty Bastard.
Ronson’s third album, [amazon-product text=”Record Collection”” tracking_id=”popblerdcom-20″ type=”text”]B003LPUM5Y[/amazon-product] (actually credited to Mark Ronson & the Business Int’l), boasts an equally sterling (and eclectic) list of collaborators-from hip-hop legends like Q-Tip to Eighties icons like Boy George and Simon LeBon. Having a guest lineup like this pretty much guarantees that the album will be interesting-which it is. But is it any good?
As a DJ, Ronson’s certainly mastered the art of figuring out how to make songs blend seamlessly into one another. “Record Collection” flows together quite nicely, like an hour-long set at your favorite club. Although it takes a couple of listens to make itself clear, this is also the most stylistically varied album that Ronson has put together.
While Ronson makes his singing debut on the Ghostface-assisted “Lose it (In the End)” (his voice is very James Mercer-ish), he leaves most of the vocalizing to his Business Int’l crew (vocalists Andrew Wyatt and Amanda Warner) and his cast of guests. The peppy “Bike Song” is a highlight (and should be a hipster anthem), but Ronson also manages to get emotional gold out of some of his guests. As supremely unlikable as I find Boy George to be as a person, his vocal turn on “Somebody to Love Me” is heartbreaking (as much for the poignant lyrics as for the fact that the former smooth-voiced crooner has aged significantly from a vocal perspective). Meanwhile, D’Angelo’s turn on “Glass Mountain Trust” can only be described as…odd. The embattled R&B crooner sounds as demented on this track as the headlines about him would have you believe.
Overall, “Record Collection” has a very Eighties vibe, which (if you know anything at all about me) is totally cool in my book. While it doesn’t pack the same organic sound as his last album “Version” (I supposed that was what happened after being surrounded by the Dap-Kings for so long) nor does it have the shock value of that album (ODB doing Britney’s “Toxic”? Sign me up!!), it’s still a solid, danceable effort that holds value once you leave the dancefloor-a rare quality for an uptempo pop album.