Mark Ronson - Uptown Special
By now you're well acquainted with Mark Ronson’s 2015 attempt at world domination: the efficiently catchy ‘Uptown Funk’ single. His last album, 2010’s Record Collection was a bit of flunk, especially when set against the mega-success of Version, which launched - or gave a decent boost to - the careers of a host of singers (including Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse). After spending time focusing on producing other people’s records - including a successful Duran Duran reboot in 2010 - Ronson took a road trip around the USA to record and pick up influences for his latest, Uptown Special.
Sounds like he indulged in a spot of time travel, specifically back to 1970's New York. Stevie Wonder’s unmistakable harmonica and voice start things off and Bruno Mars fronts the ubiquitous single, but the bulk of the heavy lifting is done by the cool kids (Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker and Miike Snow’s Andrew Wyatt). Ronson commits - fully - to his retro funk concept but the exciting, in-your-face start peters out rather too quickly. Still, this is a good-time album: tunes to dance to (a splash of r'n'b, and on ‘Daffodils’ EDM) and to chill out to (the groovy ‘In Case Of Fire’) and suitable - parental advisory swear-fest of ‘Fell Right’ apart - for the whole family. Look at it like this: Uptown Special is the perfect companion to Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories if you plan on inviting those new French girls in the flat opposite to your house party. You might not get lucky, but you'll still have a fun time trying.