Mark Ronson is a man with more eclectic taste than the One Show producers who will happily follow a Tracey Emin segment with a deep dive into the shallowness of Koi Ponds. Ronson’s recording career is a similar mishmash of pop hits, obscurities, and collaborations with stadium fillers and didgeridoo players.
That same eclectic taste is reflected in his record collection too. He’s covered a fair few of his favourites in that massive library of music, like The Smiths’ ‘Stop Me’, stating: “I think if you’re going to cover a song, you might as well cover your favourites.” However, certain records hold a place so special that besetting his mitts on them would be like starting in the cup final for your favourite sports team—it sounds like the dream but ultimately, the overwhelming odds are everyone comes out a loser.
As he said of the crown jewels of music in his view: “As far as ‘untouchable’ tracks go, there are things I wouldn’t touch, but not because it would be ‘sacrilegious’ or anything. A track like ‘Fools Gold’ by The Stone Roses is not only amazing, but it already has that great percussion which is probably what I would’ve added to it, so I probably wouldn’t touch that.”
Behind Ronson’s eclectic output, there is one central tenet that ties his varying back catalogue together. “For me,” he once decreed, “music is always first and foremost about the beat.” His beloved 1989 favourite helped to instil this. “‘Fools Gold’ by The Stone Roses was an incredible record because it was an English/Brit-pop song but it had this James Brown breakbeat under it,” he said.
Continuing to discuss its profoundly influential legacy: That was the first time I really heard a breakbeat and a psychedelic Brit pop-type record over it. That was definitely a subconscious blueprint for what Version was.” And it is safe to say that it influenced a whole lot more than Version.
Speaking of the music perfection of the classic indie disco track, when picking out his favourite track of all time, Ronson added: “I recall hearing it and it changed my entire musical perspective because it was a combination of New York hip-hop and British pop melody. It had that amazing sampled breakbeat with this haunting, incredible melody delivered by Ian Brown.”
Interestingly, ‘Fool’s Gold’ was actually inspired by cinema rather than other sounds. And never has a song sounded less like the movie that inspired it, but then who knows what goes on in the mind of Ian Brown. In 2009 the singer told Q magazine that the origins of this Manchester swagger anthem are deeply rooted in the 1948 Humphrey Bogart film The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre.
He explained: “In the film, the friends go up a mountain looking for gold. But as they go on, they start turning on one another. That’s how it felt once the Roses started getting successful. Suddenly everyone was after their piece of gold.”
It might have come from a moment when the band weren’t having such a good time, but that didn’t stop fans from having such a good time listening to it. The track is a near-ten-minute epic as at home in a nightclub as it is in the kitchen whilst you toe-tap your way around burning various food-stuffs.
It is a song that quite frankly you couldn’t imagine music being the same without. Relive the brilliance of the proto-Brit pop banger below.