Uptown Special (stylized as UpTown Special.) is the fourth studio album by English music producerMark Ronson. The album was released on 13 January 2015 in the US and 19 January 2015 in the UK. Ronson dedicated the album to the late Amy Winehouse.
Uptown Special became Ronson's first number one on the UK Albums Chart (with his previous two albums charting at number two), and reached number two in the Australian ARIA Charts and number five on the US Billboard 200.
Music and lyrics
The melody for "Uptown's First Finale" was inspired by the first set of lyrics that Michael Chabon sent to Mark Ronson. Despite Ronson loving the lyrics he kept hearing the melody as if it were being played by Stevie Wonder with his signature harmonica tone. Owing to this, Ronson decided to send a “Hail Mary” letter and the song to Wonder's manager. Despite not expecting a response, a few months later Ronson was contacted and told that Wonder had recorded the part for him. Ronson said of the event "When I first heard it, it was one of the most emotional experiences I’ve ever had. I was dumbfounded, speechless, whatever word you want to use, I was all of those things. I still can’t believe somewhere in a studio in Chicago one night, Stevie Wonder actually recorded a piece of music that I wrote. I’ve listened to it a hundred times and it still messes me up when I play it".
Uptown is a 2009 independent drama film written and directed by Brian Ackley as his debut feature film, and the second film in the One Way or Another Productions' "Naked Series".
Uptown was shot in an 8 day period with 2 cameras, using only available light and "stolen" Manhattan locations, including scenes that take place in Central Park. After a 2-week production hiatus, it was discovered that one of the cameras had been damaged, rendering everything that was shot on it as unusable. Only a few of those "lost" scenes were reshot.
Actor Chris Riquinha states that he previously worked with producer Princeton Holt on Holt's earlier film Cookies & Cream and that it was Holt who recommended him to writer/director Brian Ackley.
According to the production company, after Uptown won several festival awards, and while the film was still in the festival circuit, the film was picked up for distribution.
Ben (Chris Riquinha), an aspiring filmmaker, is an unmarried man living in New York. He enjoys the single life but feels his life is missing something. He meets Isabel (Meissa Hampton), a woman unhappy in her marriage who is seeking intimacy. The bond between the two grows as they have repeated liaisons "uptown".
"Uptown" was the lead single in the U.S. to Prince's third album, Dirty Mind. Beginning with a lone drum intro, the track explodes into the keyboards of the chorus. The verses feature a more prominent funkguitar. The song breaks down to a more instrumental section toward the end that mainly consists of guitar, bass and drums with an occasional keyboard riff. The minimalist style of the song is representative of most of the Dirty Mind album. The song addresses the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis that was the city's hang-out spot for artists.
The song addresses prejudices and racism, referring to "Uptown" as a metaphor for an ideal place that is free of such things. Prince sings in the first person, and the song opens describing a chance meeting with an attractive woman who then asks in an offensive way if he is gay. The lyrics then rail against prejudice and racism as narrow minded, and exalt in an attitude and spirit that is free of such negativity. It is one of Prince's earliest efforts to blend political statements into his art.