DJ and producer extraordinaire Mark Ronson, the man responsible for both Lily Allen’s Alright, Still and Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black, shows up this summer with his own album; a collection of well known tunes remade with a flair for R & B, funk, soul and a liberal use of a brass instrumentation.
On paper, Version seems to be an odd project, but it’s remarkable as to how stunning the record actually is. Many of the tunes themselves lend to this kind of re-interpretation, Kaiser Chiefs’ “Oh My God” and The Jam’s “Pretty Green” sound like originals, and not the covers they actually are. Ronson reworks Radiohead’s “Just” (with the help of Phantom Planet) into a storming, funky showstopper. Ryan Adams’ folky “Amy” is presented here as a swirl of psychedelia.
The album contains two absolute standouts; Amy Winehouse gives a dynamite performance covering The Zutons’ “Valerie”, transforming it into a Mowtown classic, and virtually erasing any memory of the original. The other being “Stop Me”, Daniel Merriweather’s take on The Smiths’ should-have-been single “Stop Me if You Think You’ve Heard This One Before” that seamlessly segues into “You Keep Me Hanging On”.
Unlike many solo albums from DJs and producers, Version benefits from having a neo-classicist sound and a more organic production, resulting in a fuller sound, one that makes the songs more immediate. Version is certainly an album that’s not for all tastes, but it’s definitely recommended for those with an open ear and open mind, and is quite possibly the best party record of the summer.