Review of Uptown Special by Mark Ronson
Mark Ronson positioned himself in a place of authority with his seminal album Version producing some of the best collaborations in contemporary music. Utilising his black book of contacts thanks to his amazing talent as a producer and writer, Ronson went on to produce a great album that on paper shouldn’t have worked. The mix of covers and original material worked a treat and few could argue the Mark Ronson’s talent and position at the lead table of British pop.
Potentially the biggest success of that album was the link up with friend and London legend Amy Winehouse. Valerie worked its way in to the psyche of British music lovers, so much so, that if left a whole new generation thinking that the Ronson/Winehouse creation was in fact the original.
Since that point, many music buyers will have thought Mark Ronson had vanished. Well not at all, he has been busy composing, writing and producing for a whole list of established artists. It is also down to the super-quick ever evolving platform that is music, which has supported the notion that Ronson may have vanished.
So has Ronson kept himself current? Is his album a modern masterpiece with a current feel or is the current Bruno Mars led single the only highlight?
Leave that last thought well and truly to the back of your head. Uptown Special isn’t just a newer version of Version. Uptown Special leads heavily on the soul vibe we know Ronson for, but the album over him on a level. Less brash and including sounds with hip hop, disco and funk, the sound has evolved but still has a nod to yesteryear. This means that Uptown Special, perhaps even more so than Version, should have longevity and give it a place in our playlists (or for you older folk libraries) for years to come.
How Mark Ronson does this I will never know. But he has once again got a couple of stellar guests. Obviously we all know the Bruno Mars track and gives a great flavour of Ronson’s ability to play to his artists strength, without just producing another track for them. They all have a unique Ronson flavour. Stevie Wonder is a great coup to have on the album.
Now Uptown Funk is a great track that has delivered ridiculous numbers both side of the pond, however, that isn’t even the highlight. That honour falls to Leaving Los Feliz. Whilst it may not be the track that pushes millions of units, the dreamy funk, reminiscent of “the good old days” is a masterpiece. Daffodils is all good as well for completely different reasons (heavily bass laden) – but in that last paragraph, I think album is summed up. Great mix of styles, excellent production and some chart bangers.
Welcome back Mr Mark Ronson