To many, an album from Mark Ronson, steeped in the influence of 60s and 70s funk, will seem like an odd departure for the producer, whose best-known work includes Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black and his 2007 collection of cover songs. But glance at his credits – which include hip hop (Ghostface Killah, Q-Tip, Wale), R&B (Macy Gray, Estelle, Winehouse) and pop (Christina Aguilera, Lily Allen) – and you’ll see that Ronson is a producer who wears his influences on his sleeve. His first studio album, Here Comes the Fuzz, still sounds like he and his ensemble of hip hop heavies had ridiculous fun making it. And that’s what Uptown Special feels like.
If you’re not able to attend a concert, live albums are the next best way of immersing yourself in a more intimate matter with a performer. It’s more than simply the music. They audibly capture the atmosphere. The energy of the performer(s). The yelps of excitement that greet fan favourites. The chatter, the odd fault and the ticklish laughter that often follows. Triumphant solos, guest appearances, live-only cover songs and affecting finales that sweep you up with the crowd.
No wonder live albums – and live music in general – has become a cure for those lonely nights or times when overtime is unavoidable.