Mark Ronson's reworkings of songs from the alt.rock canon, as featured on Version, are nowhere near as radical as he’d like to believe.
The son of socialite/writer Ann Dexter-Jones and real estate mogul Laurence Ronson (and stepson of Foreigner’s Mick Jones), Mark Ronson has garnered considerable attention for his makeovers of classic indie tracks. Unfortunately, his reworkings of songs from the alt.rock canon, as featured on Version, are nowhere near as radical as he’d like to believe.
The beginning of the album is particularly inauspicious, with the Daptone Horns’ bland take on ‘God Put A Smile On Your Face’ little more than a hodgepodge of insipid beats and vapid swing. However, proceedings soon take a definite upturn, with Lily Allen bringing her unique groove to the Kaiser Chiefs' ‘Oh My God’. Then we come to ‘Stop Me’ – yes, Mark Ronson does The Smiths. A terrifying prospect, but fear ye not, for the reality proves a highly enjoyable culture clash. Daniel Merriweather’s warm vocal and lavish orchestration add a soulful frisson to this classic from the charming men’s catalogue. Soon it’s the turn of that big-haired, little lady muck, Amy Winehouse, with her lioness vocal proving the perfect vehicle for ‘Valerie’.
Elsewhere, however, genres and styles prove stubbornly incompatible. Ol’ Dirty Bastard stutter rapping over Britney Spears’ ‘Toxic’ sounds glorious on paper, but, sadly, you can’t listen to paper. Robbie Williams brings precisely zero to The Charlatans’ ‘The Only One I Know’, whilst Maxïmo Park’s ‘Apply Some Pressure’, featuring that band’s own frontman Paul Smith, simply recalls the cabaret stylings of Mike Flowers Pops.
Ultimately, the greatest achievement of Mark Ronson’s genetically modified Version is to demonstrate the superiority of the organic source material.
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