"Wake Up Call (Mark Ronson Remix)"

by Maroon 5 ft. Mary J. Blige
(A&M/Octone)

It's funny how the man who's probably the hottest remixer around right now is also the most all-the-way-live practitioner ever to hold that seat. It's no use at this point to pretend Mark Ronson's sound lives or dies on which Dap-Kings he hires to play; even a cursory A-B between Ronson's more recent productions and those of Daptone Records reveals that Ronson's grooves are leaner, springier, and have sharper angles. And he can make just about anyone sound better than usual. Take this reworking of a Maroon 5 album track: Speaking as someone who's never loved Adam Levine, between his vocal on Kanye West's "Heard 'Em Say" back in 2005 and this remix, the man clearly thrives on collaboration. The booming breakbeat, plucked guitar, horn punches, and a piano that gradually takes over the arrangement all make this cheating-and-murder number sound... jaunty!

"How Long Do I Have to Wait for You (Reggae Version)"

by Sharon Jones
Daptone 7-inch)

Meanwhile, over at Daptone HQ, the Dap-Kings' greatest number with lead singer Sharon Jones undergoes a remix of its own by fellow Brooklynite Victor Axelrod, aka latter-day dancehall producer Ticklah. In addition to being a Dap-Kings keyboardist (and frequent Mark Ronson session player), Axelrod also had a hand in the Easy Star All-Stars' Dub Side of the Moon and Radiodread—Pink Floyd and OK Computer covers albums that are far, far better than they have any right to be. This remix of "How Long Do I Have to Wait for You," from 2005's Naturally, doesn't do much you couldn't have heard coming if you know the original: The vocal and fluttering guitar lead need only the barest of adjustments to fit Axelrod's organ-led, circa-1973 skank. The original track is a classic soul performance, whatever its year of origin; this version can hang with the Jamaican records from the era it evokes.

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"The Coming of Jah"

by Low
(Sub Pop 7-inch)

Speaking of Jamaican songs, here's another 7-inch special, the B-side of the sour "Santa's Coming Over," in which Duluth, Minnesota's most famous indie band take on a Rastafarian hymn (originally by Max Romeo). It's tentative (Low's specialty) and not a little clunky, but this band has handled the holidays better (and more consistently) than most in their realm. Minor, but a likable stocking stuffer nevertheless. recommended