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Mark Ronson by Michael D. Ayers 

Wednesday, Jul 4 2007
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Best known for his production work with Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse, Mark Ronson's résumé also includes DJ stints at celebrity events. Versions has too much in common with the latter — initially this collection of Ronson-ized covers is pretty fun, but the more time you spend with it, the more annoying and plastic it becomes. Ronson recruits his entertainer pals to provide vocals (e.g. Daniel Merriweather, Phantom Planet, Robbie Williams, plus the aforementioned Winehouse and Allen) and uses his '60s soul-funk fixation as the backdrop for reinterpreting other artists' work. But the album, the second Ronson has released under his moniker, is plagued with problems. Songs that originally conveyed passion and intimacy are now presented as funky and playful, voiding the meaning they once had.

Ryan Adams' folksy downer, "Amy," a song that conveyed heartache and loneliness, here has Kenna's vocals paired up with a fast, slick drum beat. Grinding was never in this tune's cards. Radiohead's "Just" presents Phantom Planet's Alex Greenwald as a poor Thom Yorke impersonator. A kitschy cover of Britney Spears' "Toxic" reminds one that this song can't be saved, even when it's cross-pollinated with Ol' Dirty Bastard raps. What's ultimately frustrating about this collection is that we know Ronson has an extensive knowledge of soul, and that he champions underdogs like the Dap-Kings. He could have used his passions and connections to dig a bit deeper for his song selections. Instead, Versions tries way too hard to be cool with its mega-talent and mega- covers, and in doing so, comes off sounding obnoxious. — Michael D. Ayers

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Michael D. Ayers

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