July 16, 2007


Acclaimed producer/DJ puts his own spin on tunes by Radiohead and Coldplay (Mark Kennedy, 7/16/07, The Associated Press)

It takes a certain audacity to cover a Radiohead song. It takes something close to lunacy to do it with a trumpet and two saxophones.

Mark Ronson seems to have a bit of both.

The British-born DJ and producer decided last year to turn the angst-ridden band's morose song "Just" into what can only be described as a funk jam.

"I hadn't been doing music that I really enjoyed for a long time," he says during an interview in his studio. "I'd just been kind of miserable for about a year. It was the first time I was like, 'Wow. This is really fun."'

Other people seemed to agree — the song was played both on indie rock and soul stations in England. But he worried about one thing: What did Radiohead think?

Ronson was naturally nervous when he approached Ed O'Brien, the band's guitarist, like a "crazed, stalker fan" after a recent show. O'Brien said he liked the cover.

"He was quizzically amused," recalls Ronson, 31. "Even for somebody who makes such progressive music, I had done something that had even stumped him a little bit."

Ronson's been doing a lot of that lately, shaking up the pop music scene with a whiff of Motown as he spearheads the blue-eyed soul movement.

A D.J. Segues to His Other Job, His Band Close at Hand (JON PARELES, 7/13/07, NY Times)
A disc jockey’s job is to pick songs and revamp them for the dancing crowd. “Version” is a collection of other people’s songs, and instead of remixing them with the latest beats and effects, Mr. Ronson has backdated them toward 1960s soul. His band included a horn section (the Haggis Horns), and even in hip-hop songs the rhythms harked back to Motown and Memphis soul. The closest approach to the present was an echo of 1970s South Bronx hip-hop, with Mr. Ronson tapping a two-headed bell.

Lately, Mr. Ronson has produced albums full of retro soul grooves for the English singers Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse (who both sing on “Version” but didn’t join him on Wednesday). And he knows how horn-section riffs and a live drummer can stir up a crowd. Many of the songs on “Version” are bitter lovers’ plaints, like “Toxic,” from Britney Spears, and “Amy,” by Ryan Adams. But Mr. Ronson’s remakes have far more strut than sigh.

-MP3 ARCHIVES: "mark ronson" (Hype Machine)
-PODCAST: Mark Ronson (East Village Radio)
-ARCHIVES: Mark Ronson (AOL: Music)
-REVIEW ARCHIVES: Version by Mark Ronson (MetaCritic)
-PROFILE: Life After Life: How Mark Ronson parlayed his status as the city’s most ubiquitous D.J. into a real career (Jon Caramanica, New York)

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 16, 2007 10:43 AM
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