Cor, that Mark Ronson's got some celebrity friends. Record Collection, his third album, is the combined work of so many names, one wonders how he fits them all in his phonebook. Boy George, Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes, a Kaiser Chief (Nick Hodgson), a Zuton (Dave McCabe), a Scissor Sister (Jake Shears), a Wu-Tang Clansman (Ghostface Killah) and so on.
The result offers a skip and a hop through the 1980s, a brief foray with some steel-drums and a bicycle-bell and brings you right up to the streets of New York with a light dusting of rap. No covers either, which is refreshing. And Ronson even makes an adequate vocal appearance himself on two tracks (Record Collection and Lose It (In The End). Can you imagine? An artist singing on his own album? Extraordinary. The title track in particular warrants special mention for its jaunty, satirical lyrics, supposedly the musings of a washed-up pop star.
"I drive round cities in a chariot, I get preferential treatment at the Marriott," drawls Le Bon, although such writing abilities are noticeably lacking elsewhere. Though The Bike Song is a catchy enough pop ditty, it's dogged by the repetitive line "I'm gonna ride my bike til I get home", from The View's Kyle Falconer. Really? Luckily, Boy George swoops in to pick things up on the suitably husky, following track, Somebody To Love Me. Three instrumental tracks are included in the mix too; one of which, Selector, is strongly reminiscent of the synth-heavy warping found on the Gorillaz's Plastic Beach. That's a good thing though; it's funky, it's fresh. Much like the rest of this album.
* Sophia Money-Coutts
Also out this week Ben Folds & Nick Hornby Lonely Avenue (Nonesuch) In his book 31 Songs, the novelist Nick Hornby remarked that he writes literature because he can't write songs. Now, the wry British author has written lyrics for the equally wry American singer-songwriter for an album that manages to be both hilarious and touching. A high point is Levi Johnston's Blues, a Springsteen-esque number written from the perspective of the father of Sarah Palin's grandchild.
Tricky Mixed Race (Domino) Tricky's ninth studio album is the Bristol trip-hop pioneer's most musically varied and up-tempo release to date. Notable guests include Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie and Tricky's brother Marlon Thaws. It also sees Tricky taking more of a back seat vocally, and while it doesn't hang together as well as some of his previous releases, it's no less interesting.