“Uptown Special,” the latest release from English musician, DJ, singer and producer, Mark Ronson, is a star-studded, funky tug-of-war featuring more variety than you can wag a finger at. Ronson produced a number of wildly successful records, including Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black”, Adele’s “19” and Bruno Mars’ “Jukebox.” He’s had his hand in over 40 albums since 1998.
Bruno Mars undoubtedly takes the spotlight with the radio hit, “Uptown Funk”. However, if Top-40 radio is a puddle, “Uptown Special” is the Mariana Trench. It’s obvious Ronson dug deep into his connections and is joined by a hodge-podge of artists, lyricists and composers, all who drizzle their own special sauce in every nook and cranny of “Uptown Funk.”
Within the album the prominent featured artist is Kevin Parker, Australian psychedelic rocker, and front-man and instrumentalist for Tame Impala, POND, and Melodie’s Echo Chamber. His disassociated vocals and reverb-drenched guitar tone weave a delicate web when combined with the up-tempo vibe the album perpetuates.
90’s hip-hop artist Mystical takes the lead on the track “Feel Right.” His temperament is comparable to Al Pacino in the last scene of “Scarface.” It’s hard to tell if he’s angry, excited, incredibly enthusiastic or some combination of all of the above. Either way, as Mystical puts it, he “feels good in this mother f***** tonight.” How he got to feeling that way is irrelevant. He’s there.
The song “In Case of Fire” features R&B icon Jeff Bhasker, who composes and co-produces a downright melancholy track sung by Rufas Wainright. This song is reminiscent of Steely Dan’s 1972 iconic release, “Aja.” The lyrics of “In Case of Fire” describe a down-and-out woman, psychotic and in debt, jumping out of a window like a “human cannonball.” All the while, it’s hard to overcome the urge to smile and dance along.
“Uptown Special” feels like a 38-minute prolonged climax, and if you don’t believe me, just listen. You may need to warm up your ear muscles and give your hamstrings a nice stretch, but you’ll thank me for it later. You can check out Mark Ronson and other great music on 90FM (89.9) on your radio dial.
90FM Music Director