Mark Ronson

Most cover albums typically feature an established artist paying respect to some of his favorite musicians, and they're lucky if they match the original material. But Version, the newest release from London-born, New York-bred DJ/producer-of-the-moment Mark Ronson, essentially smashes a group of remixes from homegrown English artists such as the Smiths, Radiohead, and the Jam, serving not only to reintroduce the originals but to give them a fresh update of northern soul. The newer versions are held together by the standout horn and bass section of the popular funk outfit the Dap Kings, and there is plenty of solid drum work here as well. For vocals, Ronson taps his stable of young pop artists, including starlet Amy Winehouse on the swinging tune "Valerie" and baby-faced crooner Lily Allen for the ska-tipped "Oh My God." His decision to turn these indie hits into soul-infused British dance numbers is a strong concept that first surfaced on a Radiohead remix last summer with the tune "Just," featuring Alex Greenwald of Phantom Planet. Thankfully that tune is included here as well. There are a few misses, as some of the vocalists lack conviction, but overall, Ronson continues to reinject some well-needed funk into pop music just in time for the summer season.