Mark Ronson’s lounge-pop interpretations on Version are a queasy hornfest, not bearing many repeat plays for fear of unstoppable waves of nausea. It’s not a bad collection, but it’s heavy with woozy playing and overfacing joie de vivre. Certain quarters considered his cover of The Smiths’ ‘Stop Me’ sacrilege – we’re not so precious here. A cover doesn’t denigrate the original and often it can improve on it. That’s what Ronson and Amy Winehouse achieve with The Zutons’ wheezing bludgeon.
Winehouse is of course the Woman of the Year. And an idiot. Back To Black has effortlessly outstripped the pack in album sales, but suffers from inevitable ubiquity, and you can say the same of the girl herself. Cutting to the music, ‘Valerie’ here comes on all ‘You Can’t Hurry Love’ yet mainly recalls an earlier, earthier girl group sound. It’s unfussy and tight, inspired and believable, and topped off with a terrific vocal performance – “aaarrr-are you busy?”, “did you get a good lawyer-er-er-ER” are catches you can hang your pop hat on. It would be nice if she could sustain this sort of quality, but at the moment she’s a wretched tabloid darling whose music is just staying ahead of the tawdry game swallowing the rest of her life.
A pushed, skipping beat has Junior rocking in front of the speakers from apology to Charlie Murphy to final gurgled “Vaaa-aaaleriee-eee”. Stay focused, Ames.