Mark Ronson: Record Collection

RIYL: Taking ’60s pop and hip hop and throwing them into a blender

As the DKNY poster boy and the It producer for nearly everything out of the UK since 2006 (Lily Allen, Amy Winehouse, Adele, Kaiser Chiefs, and Duran Duran’s upcoming album), Mark Ronson has reached Timbaland levels of productivity of late without suffering from Timbaland levels of overexposure. Granted, much of that is due to his work’s general lack of commercial crossover in the States – of all the pop artists he’s worked with, only his work with Winehouse has cracked the US Top 40 – but chart success or not, it stands to reason that someone with seven producer credits since the beginning of 2009 alone would need a break. Instead, Ronson has decided to release another solo album.


Record Collection, Ronson’s third solo album and first since 2007’s all-covers project Version, sounds exactly like his other work; tasteful drum programs (the most organic drum machines you’ll ever hear), ’60s-style pop songwriting, a dash of early ’80s synth pop, some two-step, and lots and lots of guest performers, prodiminantly from the world of hip hop. Most of the time, Ronson matches song to singer (and/or rapper) quite well, particularly the hoppin’ leadoff track (and first single) “Bang Bang Bang” and “Somebody to Love Me,” which sports a haunting vocal from Boy George. Ronson splits vocal duties with Simon Le Bon on the dark wave title track, an amusing stab at the here-today-gone-today nature of the music business and the best song Le Bon’s sung in half a decade (“I made a mint in 1987, now I’m living in my parking space”).

There are times, though, when Record Collection could have benefited from a little less busyness. Did the Nuggets-riffing “The Bike Song” really need a rap break from Spank Rock? It’s great that Ronson loves ’60s pop and hip hop, but the two really have no business hooking up, and “The Bike Song” and “Lost It (In the End”) would have been better off if they hadn’t employed the kitchen sink approach. As it is, Record Collection, is one of the more diverse and hook-laden pop records you’ll hear this year. One wonders, though, if it could have reached instant classic status had Ronson reined things in a bit. (RCA 2010)

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