The cover art for Mark Ronson and The Business Intl.’s new album Record Collection, gives a clear indication of the kind of album it is. Ronson’s face is pictured almost kaleidoscopically, the cover composed of other fictitious albums that bear different segments of his face in contrasting colour schemes. It suggests that the album is collaborative, which it is, and that its eclectic – like a record collection. On his latest effort, ‘super-producer’ (as he’s now touted) Ronson has enlisted help as far and wide as Boy George, Jonathan Pierce (The Drums), Wiley and Q-Tip, and it certainly makes for an interesting assortment. In the title song, ‘Record Collection’ (one of the two songs on the album in which Ronson lends his vocals) Simon Le Bon (Duran Duran) sings “I’ll tell you what it is on my mind/I only want to be in your record collection/and I’ll do anything it takes just to get there.” With this latest effort, Ronson & Co. might just do that.
While Ronson’s first album failed to bring him much international attention, his second, Version, immediately opened the door for him to the international stage. A slew of hot acts suddenly wanted the multi-talented producer for their projects. This included Amy Winehouse (Ronson produced ‘Valerie’), Mika, Robbie Williams, Sean Lennon…the list goes on and on. Version resulted in several top ten hits and saw Ronson became a favourite in the dance and electronic scenes. It’s with renewed fervour that Ronson And The Business International approached their latest effort, and it showcases Ronson’s genre-splicing skills as never before.
“Un, Deux, Trois!”, sings MNDR as she launches the album with the first song and first single, "Bang Bang Bang". The chorus is catchy and seductive, cut between interludes from Q-Tip, and an obvious choice for first single considering its upbeat tempo. “Lose It (In The End)” starts with a kind of, 21st century rehash of “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” theme song. As it breaks down, and Ronson starts singing, we get the catchy chorus with its contagious “fri-e-e-end” effect. Ghostface Killah’s contributions render it one of the strongest songs on the album. “The Bike Song” starts with an excellent old school hip-hop beat, and is great with Spank Rock giving the track some real spunk.
“Somebody To Love Me” is potentially the most interesting collaboration on the album, featuring Boy George and other notables. Ronson says it became like a 2010 version of “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me”, and the fluency with which it’s produced may give it its predecessor’s success; that is if your prepared to welcome Boy George back into your life. “You Gave Me Nothing” gives us a Lily Allen-type chorus from Rose Elinor Dougall, and the rest of the song is styled as such. “The Colour Of Crumar” is one of the album’s four instrumentals, or “interludes” as Ronson calls them, which are supposed to segue different parts of the album. With the exception of “Circuit Breaker”, these for me are the album’s weakest points, particularly seeing as Ronson himself said they were ideas that didn’t progress further than their instrumental incarnations – and that’s exactly what they end up sounding like, half-finished songs. With title song “Record Collection” Ronson showcases his routes in 80’s pop, and the song could very much be a long lost Duran Duran track. “Hey Boy” ventures into Lily Allen territory again, singing about ‘boys and girls’ and the like. It’s just another example that Ronson can quite easily genre jump, and will probably get hits on different charts as a result.
Record Collection has some great moments, and the collaborations are sometimes very successful in the case of “Somebody to Love Me”, “Bang Bang Bang” and “Lose It (In The End)”, making the first half of the album the strongest. My biggest criticism of the album is its instrumental interludes, which in all cases but one, “Circuit Breaker”, are purposefully under-produced to give them that effect of being heard over the phone or on an old record player. It doesn’t make sense for one of the world’s hottest producers to under produce. Maybe he’ll beef them out during a live set. Aside from this blot on the map, the album has some really strong moments and is worth adding to your Record Collection for them alone.
Highlights :: “Lose It (In The End)”, “Somebody to Love Me”