Ronson scores

Looking through my itunes collection sorted by purchase date, it is moderately obvious that I don’t buy a lot of music by contemporary ’new’ artists. There is Metronomy, Daft Punk, Bluey, Wickford’s own ‘The Milk’, The Submotion Orchestra and a few other stragglers, but the vast majority of new music is by old favourites such as Donald Fagen, Matt Bianco, Swing Out Sister, Prefab Sprout or Incognito. All gracefully ageing survivors of the seventies or eighties, they fill my ipod with comfort music – the equivalent of Friday’s SpagBol. So it comes with moderate surprise that for the last few days I have been listening constantly to Mark Ronson’s ‘Uptown Special’. Actually, this is no surprise, as it pretty much sounds like a pastiche of some of the most successful seventies and eighties styles. I have no idea how he came up with up the idea of making a seventies/eighties homage album, but it’s all there: James Brown’s rare grooves mixed with old school rap, Alan Parson’s soft rock, Steely Dan chords, Moogish bass lines with synth licks that sound like they come straight out a Juno and there’s even the real Steve Wonder making an appearance. This oevre was bought on the reputation of ‘Uptown Funk’ which must have been the first single that excited me since – wait a minute, I’ll get there in a minute – sorry can’t remember. This bastard child (the single, not Mark Ronson) of Cool and the Gang, Prince and Bootsy Collins is such a joy to listen to that even on the way to work one does a bit whistling (or even throwing in the odd dance step on arrival, severely upsetting the staff). Apparently Ronson is the stepson of Foreigner’s Mick Jones – a man with a knack for the odd million seller – who made Ronson listen to his newest records in the middle of the night, so maybe this is some sort of psychological workup of his involuntary exposure to eighties pop in the middle of the night, but It’s a long time since I had so much fun listen to new music, so I couldn’t care less: I am happy to have paid my dues to support Ronson’s apparently fabulous lifestyle a bit longer, and long may he exploit the previous decades a bit further.

Prefab Jesus Pop

Paddy McAloon is, well, was one of my favourite song writers. His work for Prefab Sprout has rarely been bettered, and albums like Andromeda Heights and From Langley Park to Memphis are on my list of most played vinyl ever.

So it was rather unsurprising that I was rather excited by the announcement of the release of a new album with new material by Prefab Sprout called ” Let’s Change the World With Music“. Instantly downloaded (remember going to the record shop around the corner every day until the album you were waiting for finally arrived?) from Itunes, I gave it an instant spin (well, I gave the hard disk a spin) and was initially delighted by the usual McAloonesque harmonic joys, but soon was beginning to worry that I might have downloaded something resembling ‘Christian Pop’.  References to God, Jesus and Angels are flying around liberally, and I wonder whether this is a concept album to drum up support for the Church of England.

The sound is a bit weird as well: while the songs themselves reflect McAloon’s musical genius, the production sounds like somebody threw together some ideas on an eighties drum computer and a kid’s synthesizer, often detracting from the beauty of the compositions.

I wonder whether Paddy’s beard length correlates with the religiosity of his lyrics. On the other hand, I can’t really be mad at a guy who made some of the most beautiful music in the universe. A bit like Bach, if you think of it.

Let’s hope it’s just a phase.