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Mark Ronson - Uptown Special (Album Review)

Monday, 02 February 2015 Written by Gavin Rees

Perhaps the biggest compliment you can pay Mark Ronson following the release of album four is to say that it survives the threat of death by pop ubiquity. Uptown Funk, that snazzy, Bruno Mars-led megahit, is a huge standout on its parent record, ‘Uptown Special’, but it’s not the only one.

To compete with its gotta-kiss-myself glare, Ronson has opted for an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach to funk and soul tropes, also packing ‘Uptown Special’ with as many guest stars - including Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Michael Chabon - as humanly possible. Mars is right up there with the best of them, but doesn’t have it all his own way. Maybe we should let him off, though, as the actual, real-life Stevie Wonder appears on the tracklisting​.

Mystikal nabs the best line of the bunch - “I’m gon’ have to fuck you up” - and powers up for a stunning take on James Brown’s killer moves on the mighty, sweartastic Feel Right, while Kevin Parker, of Tame Impala, turns out to be a surprisingly engaging disco frontman. Daffodils, in particular, is a slinky delight.

It’s a pace that can’t be maintained, though. Crack In The Pearl and Heavy and Rolling don’t add a great deal, while both I Can’t Lose and In Case Of Fire fade from memory almost immediately.

At its best, though, ‘Uptown Special’ is a burst of pure joy, a dance-like-nobody’s-watching splurge of colour and rejigged classics that’ll continue to urge you towards the dancefloor into the summer.

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