Mark Ronson & Business Intl - Record Collection - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Mark Ronson & Business Intl - Record Collection

by James Bray Rating:8 Release Date:2010-09-27

Record Collection is the album that will, in theory, allow Mark Ronson to make the transition from superstar DJ/producer to artist in his own right. So, on this record, rather than simply being the mastermind behind the beats, Ronson has established an actual band. The Business International add a kind of legitimacy to Ronson's foray into the mainstram. With this group he can tour more easily and be more dynamic in a live context. Vocalists Andrew Wyatt and Alison Warner are two of The Business International's key members and they appear throughout which adds a sense of coherence to the album. The sound and style of Record Collection is remiscent of Gorillaz and their musical circus. However, Record Collection often feels more like an eminently sleek variety show opposed to mix-tape theatrics of Plastic Beach (Gorillaz last album).

Record Collection begins with 'Bang Bang Bang' which is has already proved itself to be a hit with its retro inflections and post-modern pop reinterpretation of the famous French children's song, 'Alouette'. On the next track, 'Lose It (In the End)', Ronson deftly mixes pop melodies, hip hop beats and rapping from Ghostface Killah. Although his production and DJing are still at the fore, there is more live music here as the DJ steps away from the decks and plays guitar, keyboards and even sings on a number of tracks.

Record Collection works as a proper album not simply because of the coherence that comes with live instrumentation and regular appearances from Wyatt and Warner; it works because of Ronson' intuition as a DJ and as a musician. This allows him to put together an album that sounds like the soundtrack to some tragically hip club night without ever losing his pop sensibilities.

The momentum and quality that is established in the first few tracks is maintained throughout the record. Ronson periodically adds electro-quaint musical interludes like 'The Colour of Crumar' and 'Circuit Breaker'. These pieces provides a nice change of pace and ensure that we don't get overwhelmed by his maximalist musical production style. At heart, Ronson is still a DJ; he just uses different tools to go about his business. Record Collection is like 2010's answer to David Holmes Introducing the Free Association album Come Get It, I Got It. Ronson is doing what superstar DJ David Holmes did, he's making the mix record accessible to the mainstream although he's doing it with original music that he has mostly written himself.

This album was a big collaborative effort as behind the scenes Ronson worked closely with people like Jonathan Pierce of The Drums and Dave McCabe of The Zutons. Before the album came out, it looked like Ronson was setting himself up for a fall with his magpie list of guest vocalists including Ghostface Killah, Q-Tip , Simon Le Bon and Boy George. On paper it looked like he was doing the Live Aid song, but without a good cause. However, on Record Collection it all works, especially the post-modern kitsch of the title track which features Le Bon. With this album, Ronson adds depth and character to his music which was lacking in his last record, the super-sleek, superficial Version.

Detractors will call Ronson a posturing, preening careerist; even his erstwhile collaborator Amy attacked him on Twitter; "Ronson you're dead to me; one album I write and you take half the credit - make a career out of it? Don't think so bruv." A lot of people would like to jump on the backlash bandwagon, but with Record Collection, Ronson proves himself to be a dynamic and innovative musician.

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