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Pop/Rock - Released December 14, 2007 | Columbia

You know that a producer has become a star in his own right when he's given a contract to put out an album under his own name -- but, really, if any producer deserved his own vanity project in 2007, it's Mark Ronson, the man behind much of the two best British pop albums in 2006, Lily Allen's Alright, Still and Amy Winehouse's Back to Black. Ronson, of course, had been a fixture in the N.Y.C. and London DJ scenes long before this, and had even released an album called Here Comes the Fuzz in 2003 that found him enlisting a cast of American hipsters -- everyone from Ghostface Killah and Mos Def to Rivers Cuomo, Jack White, and Saturday Night Live comedian Jimmy Fallon -- to front tracks he crafted. Ronson keeps that same blueprint for his second album, Version, but he sets his sights on the U.K., the country that finally turned him into a star thanks to those Allen and Winehouse productions, bringing in Lily and Amy and a parade of modern Brit stars to sing over his tracks. This time around, Ronson has ginned up the original concept with a better concept: to cover a bunch of contemporary British pop classics and modern hits, ranging from the Jam's "Pretty Green" to Maxïmo Park's "Apply Some Pressure." All of the tunes have been run through Ronson's grinder, turning them into splashy, clever, but not-quite-campy blends of old-school hip-hop, '60s soul (equal parts Motown and Stax), postmodern pop, and classic kitsch, so it sounds like a modern update on a late-'60s variety show. Since Ronson has a distinct musical viewpoint -- one that's heavy on style, of course; one that's designed for club play but emphasizes melody and feel over beats -- Version holds together as a proper album, but that's primarily because Ronson turns everything into a soundtrack for an absurd retro-fantasia of a Northern soul club, one where the Tamla beat never stops pounding even as it morphs into rolling hip-hop loops, one where the horns never stop blaring, one where the pop hooks are as prominent as the groove. Whether you're into club music or pop, it's easy to be seduced by Ronson's fantasy, and Version sure is fun as it plays the first time through, and several of his reinventions are giddy, devious delights, as when he finally injects some humor into Coldplay by turning "God Put a Smile Upon Your Face" into an instrumental fueled by the Daptone Horns, or doing a similar deed to Radiohead's "Just" (here sung by Phantom Planet), or how the Smiths' "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before" is turned into a soul medley with the Supremes' "You Keep Me Hangin' On" as sung by Daniel Merriweather. That latter track in particular is a neat trick, but it's like the bulk of Version in microcosm: the imagination and skill is dazzling at first but subsequent spins reveal it as more style than substance, particularly because Merriweather isn't a sensitive interpreter and his affectless delivery becomes grating upon repeated plays, turning this into a shallow display of production virtuosity. Too much of Version is like this -- great ideas shackled by bland vocalists -- to make it a lasting pleasure, but in the moment it's a great party record anchored by two brilliant moments: Lily Allen's take on the Kaiser Chiefs' "Oh My God" and Amy Winehouse's flat-out stupendous reworking of the Zutons' "Valerie," which turns it into a lost Motown classic. Not for nothing are these two highlights from the artists who made Mark Ronson a star -- not only do their aesthetics match his, but they're the only ones with enough charisma to overpower his showy tracks and make them into their own. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Electro - Released August 29, 2003 | Elektra Records

Loaded with guest artists and packed with danceable beats, DJ Mark Ronson's first record, Here Comes the Fuzz, is less a showcase for the New York-based artist's turntable skills and more of a radio-friendly pop-rap party album. A rising star on the NYC club scene since the late '90s, the occasional Tommy Hilfiger model previously produced tracks for other hip downtown scenesters, including Saturday Night Live regular Jimmy Fallon as well as singer Nikka Costa and rapper Sean Paul -- both of whom return the favor here. Much in the same way as DJ Shadow's Endtroducing... or the Avalanches' Since I Left You used the Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique as their template to display an eclectic and voracious record-collecting habit, Ronson's Here Comes the Fuzz mixes funk, hip-hop, soul, and rock into an "everything goes when you're having fun" cocktail. While never displaying the innovative vision or giddy melody-mixing heights of either of those albums, Here Comes the Fuzz does still resonate with the pulse of youthful ego driven by libido and hot wax. To these ends, rappers Ghostface Killah and Nate Dogg take the mic over a funky cowbell and the string section of Dennis Coffey's "Scorpio" on "Ooh Wee." Similarly, Mos Def and M.O.P. add Brooklyn street cred to Ronson's catchy if a bit obvious co-opting of Lenny Kravitz's hit "On the Run." Perhaps most interesting though, are Ronson's attempts at actual songwriting such as on the cosmopolitan disco plea "High," featuring vocalist Aya, and the punk à gogo of "I Suck" with Rivers Cuomo, which finds the Weezer frontman doing his best "Let's Go to Bed"-era Robert Smith warble against a sample from Labi Siffre's "Too Late." ~ Matt Collar
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Pop/Rock - Released July 12, 2010 | Columbia

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Pop - Released July 3, 2015 | Columbia

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Pop - Released June 29, 2015 | Columbia

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Pop - Released April 13, 2015 | Columbia

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Pop - Released January 16, 2015 | Columbia

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What do you do when you're a connected and funded musician/producer who, like many others pushing 40 or greater, is disappointed with commercial music made by and for people born after your favorite era of music? If you're Mark Ronson, you dial a Pulitzer-winning novelist, snare a sympathetic group of stars, session giants, and unknowns, including a singer discovered during a talent quest through churches from New Orleans to Chicago, and record another tribute to your childhood soundtrack. Indeed, apart from the involvement of Michael Chabon, whose lyrics color nine of the 11 songs, Uptown Special is business as usual for Ronson and co-pilot Jeff Bhasker. The two songs that don't involve Chabon made the earliest and deepest impressions. Bruno Mars showcase "Uptown Funk," despite aiming for early Time and landing closer to a second-tier trifle -- One Way's "Let's Talk," for instance -- topped pop charts in a number of territories and went platinum in Ronson's native U.K. "Feel Right," led by Mystikal at his vulgar and ebullient best, splits the difference between Bobby Byrd and Son of Bazerk. Everything else was co-written with Chabon, whose somewhat surreal scenes are matched with predominantly hazier and freewheeling sounds. These songs, including two highlights that boast the dynamite rhythm section of Willie Weeks and Steve Jordan, as well as lazing vocals from relative youngsters Andrew Wyatt and Kevin Parker, tend to evoke summery soft rock/smooth soul hybrids of the mid- to late '70s, or certain songs by later practitioners like Phoenix and Daft Punk. "I Can't Lose" is the lone Chabon song that breaks a sweat -- thick, twisted synth funk that borrows from Soho's "Hot Music" and (cleanly) lifts from Snoop Dogg's "Ain't No Fun," featuring newcomer Keyone Starr in the role of Evelyn King (or maybe Mary Jane Girls' JoJo McDuffie). Neatly tied together by opening and closing cuts that include Stevie Wonder on harmonica, because Ronson could swing it, Uptown Special is another nostalgic fantasy that provides light entertainment and provokes backtracking. ~ Andy Kellman
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Pop - Released December 23, 2014 | Columbia

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Pop - Released December 8, 2014 | Columbia

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Rock - Released November 11, 2014 | Columbia

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Pop/Rock - Released September 20, 2010 | Columbia

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Electro - Released November 8, 2009 | Elektra Records

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Electro - Released November 8, 2009 | Elektra Records

Pop - Released March 16, 2009 | Columbia

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Pop - Released March 16, 2009 | Columbia