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Mark Ronson is more than a producer—he’s a musical philanthropist who uses his considerable resources and connections to realize crazy pop fantasies. He’s transformed Radiohead‘s “Just” into a slinky funk number, Britney Spears‘ “Toxic” into a drag queen vamp featuring Ol’ Dirty Bastard, and The Jam‘s “Pretty Green” into a rowdy Ze Records throwback. Ronson has an uncanny knack for emphasizing the subliminal roots of pop songs, and for executing his high concepts with grace and style. Just as on his high-profile collaborations with Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse (both of whom turn up on the record), the majority of his tracks feature bold vocals, brisk beats and a fully loaded R&B horn section.
Though Ronson provides novel makeovers for classic tunes by The Smiths, The Supremes and Coldplay, the majority of the cuts on Version turn mediocre songs by the likes of Ryan Adams, The Zutons, and Kasabian into first-rate modern pop. Lily Allen’s turn on the Kaiser Chiefs‘ “Oh My God” is a revelation in particular. Whereas the original was pleasant yet tepid, Allen’s typically sassy voice amplifies its charm considerably while Ronson’s clavinet groove and brass hooks lend the composition a touch of elegance and soul.