- Bang Bang Bang
- Lose It (In The End)
- The Bike Song
- Somebody To Love Me
- You Gave Me Nothing
- The Colour Of Crumar
- Glass Mountain Trust
- Circuit Breaker
- Introducing The Business
- Record Collection
- Hey Boy
- Missing Words
- The Night Last Night
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In July 2009, Mark Ronson and his musician friends went into Dunham studios in Brooklyn, home base of Steinweiss and Brenneck. Inspired by working with Duran Duran, notably synth innovator Nick Rhodes, he brought with him some of the vintage keyboards he'd found on eBay. And they began playing. He and the other musicians would try their hand at different instruments "to stop anyone getting too comfortable".
"We did that for two months, just playing, coming up with backing tracks we liked, until we had a little bit of a sound, something worth pursuing. Then I thought about bringing in some other writers to bring some melodies and lyrics."
Dave McCabe, a friend since the Version version of Valerie, was the first to come over to New York. The Zutons' frontman contributed The Bike Song
, a chipper blast of Sixties psychedelia. Ronson asked Kyle Falconer of The View to sing it - he thought his scruffy, boyish tones suited the song - and an inspired Spank Rock wrote and performed a rap.The Night Last Night
, written by Ronson and Alex Greenwald - whom Ronson calls "my co-writer and co-pilot" - is another Sixties-tinged song. "I wanted to get that Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons' Beggin' feeling, that really haunting, barbershop-type harmonies over a heavy drum break," says Ronson. Vocals are shared by Greenwald, who sung the part four times to create the harmonies, and Rose Elinor Dougall, formerly of The Pipettes.
Ronson describes first single Bang Bang Bang
as "like Van Halen and The Meters had a baby". It features another female vocalist, MNDR, whose day-job is as live keyboard player with Yeah Yeah Yeahs, alongside Q-Tip, another old Ronson buddy. "Their tones work well together, these crisp, beautiful textures..." The song was built using a classic Eighties Duran keyboard idea (setting 32 on the Prophet V), a version of French nursery rhyme Alouette (MNDR's idea), a writing contribution from Nick Hodgson of Kaiser Chiefs, and ideas culled from Ronson's experiences touring the festival circuit. It all hangs - bangs - brilliantly.
"When we played all those festivals in 2007, we'd end up in the dance tent. And I got so jealous when Justice or Soulwax or Pendulum would go into their double-time breaks, and all the kids would start jumping up and down. And we never had that tempo in our set. So I just wanted that in one of our songs."Somebody To Love Me
had an equally byzantine genesis, but equally triumphant outcome: Jake Shears of Scissors Sisters, Cathy Dennis, erstwhile Dirty Pretty Thing Anthony Rossomando, and Andrew Wyatt of Miike Snow all had a hand in writing what Ronson describes as a "bionic" song. Then he persuaded Boy George, at his most cracked diva-esque, to sing this song of "earnest blue-eyed soul".
Ronson himself takes lead vocals on Lose It (In The End)
- he took singing lessons from Lady Gaga's vocal coach, at the Lady herself's suggestion (Ronson met Gaga when she guested on the debut album by Wale, who's signed to AllIDo). Again, he didn't mean to: having written the Zombies/Turtles-like track with Jonathan Pierce of The Drums, he hoped Pierce would sing it. But Pierce wanted to concentrate on the fast-rising Drums, so Ronson - accompanied by Ghostface Killah - stepped up to the mic.
"My vocals sound so small next to Ghostface - literally dwarfed when he comes in. But I wanted that song to sound like The RZA sampling a Turtles record and putting a breakbeat on it."
Ronson also sings the verses on the album title track, with Simon Le Bon supplying the chorus and Wylie adding a rap. The words were written by Nick Hodgson. Ronson remembers hearing the Kaiser Chief's first pass at the lyrics in the studio. "I just got in from somewhere really cool... I'm not as clever as I thought I was..."
'And after a while, I'm like, are you making fun of me?' Ronson says with a grin. "Is this an ironic take on what people perceive my lifestyle to be?"
He admits that he and Hodgson "still haven't super-cleared up if he's taking the piss". But no matter. Ronson has been around the hip hop block; he can live with a good-humoured diss. So much so that he opted to name the album after the song, ditching the original choice, Introducing The Business.
suddenly made so much sense as a title. All these disparate performances and people hang together by a thread, and that thread is that I own records by all of them. And the only reason it all works is that I'm such a passionate fan of all those artists."Introducing The Business
, meanwhile, refers to both the name of Ronson's new band The Business Intl and to a song of the same name on the album. That tune features a rapper named Pill and the London Gay Men's Choir. How did they get involved? Well, that's another story for another day. That's enough backdrop and cast-of-character info. For now, let's get lost in the wonderful world of this gloriously inventive album. Time to dive into Mark Ronson's Record Collection.