Mark Ronson will drop his highly-anticipated album Uptown Special on January 13, 2015. It was written and produced with fellow producer Jeff Bhasker (Kanye West, Drake, Alicia Keys) over 18 months in studios in London, Memphis, Los Angeles and New York City. The majority of the album’s lyrics – although not the lead hit single “Uptown Funk“ with Bruno Mars – were written by Pulitzer-winning American novelist Michael Chabon. Ronson’s favorite living author, Chabon became a part of the songwriting process early on and was fully immersed in the album’s narrative creation, often working with Ronson and the vocalists in the recording studio.
Taken as a whole, the album is inspired by Ronson’s musical beginnings. As a teenager growing up in New York City in the early 90s, Ronson gravitated towards hip-hop, funk, soul and R&B. Those were the records he lugged around in boxes in the early days of his club DJ career and that scratchy, inspiring vinyl was what he returned to when creating the album. Though Ronson is now based out of London, most of Uptown Special was recorded in the United States with stops in Los Angeles, Memphis and Mississippi. Most of the music was recorded with live musicians with Mark anchoring the sessions on guitar, while surrounded by a complimentary mix of gifted young players and R&B vets. Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker plays a huge role on the album, lending his signature, woozy vocal to three songs, as well as laying drums, guitars, synths and background vocals on other tracks. Longtime collaborator Miike Snow’s Andrew Wyatt had a hand in “Heavy and Rolling.” Several musicians, who worked with Mark on his historic production of Amy Winehouse’s multi-platinum Back To Black and his own breakthrough album, 2007’s Version, rejoined him for this album, including Homer Steinweiss, Nick Movshan and Tommy Brenneck. Also making guest appearances are Willie Weeks, Carlos Alomar, Steve Jordan and Ronson’s personal hero, the legendary Stevie Wonder, who leant his harmonica talents to the record. With all this talent condensed into 11 tracks, the album will surely be worth listening to.
Check out the hit single, “Uptown Funk” below: