Album Review: Record Collection by Mark Ronson and the Business Intl
Very Good, Based on 9 Critics
AllMusic - 80 Based on rating 8/10
Released under the moniker Mark Ronson & the Business Intl, DJ/songwriter/producer Mark Ronson's 2010 album Record Collection feels more like the work of an actual band, or at least a collective, and less like a DJ album of guest vocalists even though there are a plenty here. The band idea is further reinforced by the inclusion of vocalists Andrew Wyatt (Fires of Rome, Mike Snow) and Amanda Warner (MNDR) who appear throughout Record Collection. The two singers, Wyatt with his sanguine soulful croon and Warner with her robust diva wail, take the lead on several cuts and lend a more unified palette to Ronson's songs.
Three years after his retro covers album Version, the Amy Winehouse producer returns with an impressively varied set. On Record Collection, Mark Ronson again recruits a motley crew of vocalists, including R&B recluse D’Angelo (whose soulful rasp is hauntingly altered on ”Glass Mountain Trust”) and Boy George (begging for companionship on ”Somebody to Love Me”). Good thing Ronson’s got the production chops to hold it all together.
Mark Ronson is the epitome of everything that is wrong in the music industry: privileged background, famous connections, celebrity status. He’s carved himself a quiff shaped niche out of building a recording career on the foundations of other artists' talent. His debut, Here Comes The Fuzz, was touted by Jay-Z and featured his famous friends from his days djing in NYC; Version polluted every wedding and bar mitzvah with the trumpet-rape of classic tracks sung by another raft of established and up and coming artists.
At every possible turn, superproducer Mark Ronson has talked up his work on the forthcoming Duran Duran album in the press. It’s as though he’s being paid by the word, but listening to his own new album, Record Collection, it’s obvious Ronson is really more of a fan than even he’s admitted. Ronson is a music nerd through and through, and he’s put himself in a position through his production success with artists like Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen to field his own fantasy team when he puts together his own albums.
Everything and the kitchen sink For his first album of original material, DJ/producer Mark Ronson has added a new element to the mix: his voice. He gamely takes the lead on the fame-ruminating, pop/hip-hop mélange of “Lost It (In The End),” and while most definitely Auto-Tuned, he isn’t half bad. Ronson’s strength has always been in surrounding himself with like-minded artists, both burgeoning and established, and that’s largely true on Record Collection, a typically ambitious if uneven effort.
Mark Ronson seems to have floated ethereally around the pop landscape for the last few years, a vacant name attached more to gossip blurbs, DJ gigs, and family connection than any real musical output. His mid-decade production work for Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen showed promise, but fizzled before growing into a full voice. Ronson’s 2007 album, Version, which went triple platinum in the U.K.
British pop Svengali Mark Ronson is taking another crack at solo success in the U.S. with his third release. The Valerie hitmaker aims for slight reinvention here, moving away from his signature retro soul to pair vintage synth sounds with drumline-style percussion that borders on jazzy. The result is a largely satisfying pop record that gets bogged down in too many self-indulgent instrumental interludes in its second half.
It's very easy to be suspicious of Mark Ronson. Never mind the family connections, the fame garnered from helming albums by Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse-- artists charismatic enough to give any producer a cushy job-- or the dubious entity called the Business Int'l. The real cause for all those cocked eyebrows and dubious looks has been the diminishing-returns appropriation of old soul tropes in service of neo-soul radio hits, which actually sounded great on Back to Black but much less compelling-- almost comically crass-- on Ronson's own cashgrab 2007 album, Version.
The cast list on Ronson’s third LP is great, and some of its songs are excellent. Will Dean 2010 He’s a handsome chap, that Mark Ronson. If you've looked at a men's magazine in the past three months, chances are you've spotted him plugging this record by wearing suits snazzier than the trumpets that so adorned Version, his mega-selling, guest-star, er, trumpeting, breakthrough second album.