Amy Winehouse – Back to Black: Deluxe Edition
Lifespan: September 14, 1983 – July 23, 2011, she died aged 27 and was British.
Birthname: Amy Jade Winehouse.
Snapshot: An artist with 12 releases, and credited twice on others’ music. 1 collaboration and 1 musical relative.
Platinum selling and five time Grammy winning singer Amy Winehouse has died at the age of 27. Well known for her soulful voice, Winehouse’s numerous hits include «Stronger Than Me,» «Love is a Losing Game,» and «Rehab.» Her platinum selling album, Back to Black, helped usher in a new era for female vocalists from Adele to Lady Gaga.
Amy Winehouse became a household name in 2007 thanks to the huge success of Back to Black and its lead single «Rehab», and her frequently disheveled media appearances caused by struggles with alcohol and drugs.
Born in 1983 in London, singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse tried out a number of different musical ventures, including dabbling with rap when she was 10, before she signed her first record contract as a singer-songwriter. Aged 20 she released her first album, the jazz influenced Frank, which reached No.13 in the UK and saw Winehouse nominated for Best Female Solo Artist and Best Urban Act at the BRIT Awards. The album went on to produce platinum sales while the single, «Stronger Than Me», won the acclaimed Ivor Novello Songwriting Award.
The follow-up album Back to Black (2006) reached No.1 in the charts twice, the first time helped by the single «Rehab», and then once again on receiving the BRIT Awards nomination for Best Album. The album was released in the US in 2007 and went straight into the Top 10 of the Billboard 200, at the time a record debut entry position for a British female artist. Winehouse played the MTV Music Awards show which helped «Rehab» into the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100.
In January 2008 Winehouse was finally forced to enter rehab after a video of her smoking crack was exposed by a British newspaper. The next month she looked much healthier while performing for the Grammys via satellite on a night in which she collected five Grammy Awards.
The story of Back to Black is one in which celebrity and the potential of commercial success threaten to ruin Amy Winehouse, since the same insouciance and playfulness that made her sound so special when she debuted could easily have been whitewashed right out of existence for this breakout record. (That fact may help to explain why fans were so scared by early press allegations that Winehouse had deliberately lost weight in order to present a slimmer appearance.) Although Back to Black does see her deserting jazz and wholly embracing contemporary R&B, all the best parts of her musical character emerge intact, and actually, are all the better for the transformation from jazz vocalist to soul siren. With producer Salaam Remi returning from Frank, plus the welcome addition of Mark Ronson (fresh off successes producing for Christina Aguilera and Robbie Williams), Back to Black has a similar sound to Frank but much more flair and spark to it. Winehouse was inspired by girl group soul of the ’60s, and fortunately Ronson and Remi are two of the most facile and organic R&B producers active. (They certainly know how to evoke the era too; Remi’s «Tears Dry on Their Own» is a sparkling homage to the Motown chestnut «Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,» and Ronson summons a host of Brill Building touchstones on his tracks.) As before, Winehouse writes all of the songs from her experiences, most of which involve the occasionally riotous and often bittersweet vagaries of love. Also in similar fashion to Frank, her eye for details and her way of relating them are delightful. She states her case against «Rehab» on the knockout first single with some great lines: «They tried to make me go to rehab I won’t go go go, I’d rather be at home with Ray» (Charles, that is). As often as not, though, the songs on Back to Black are universal, songs that anyone, even Joss Stone, could take to the top of the charts, such as «Love Is a Losing Game» or the title song («We only said good bye with words, I died a hundred times/You go back to her, and I go back to black»). [Capping the year as one of the world’s biggest sellers, Back to Black was reissued in November 2007 with a bonus CD. The eight extraq songs are awash with covers such as Sam Cooke’s «Cupid» and several from the ska/rocksteady canon: «Monkey Man,» «You’re Wondering Now,» and «Hey Little Rich Girl.»]
Disc 1 tracks:
1. Rehab (Winehouse) 3:34
2. You Know I’m No Good (Winehouse) 4:17
3. Me & Mr. Jones (Winehouse) 2:33
4. Just Friends (Winehouse) 3:13
5. Back to Black (Ronson, Winehouse) 4:01
6. Love Is a Losing Game (Winehouse) 2:35
7. Tears Dry on Their Own (Ashford, Simpson, Winehouse) 3:06
8. Wake Up Alone (O’Duffy, Winehouse) 3:42
9. Some Unholy War (Winehouse) 2:22
10. He Can Only Hold Her (Poindexter, Poindexter, Winehouse) 2:46
11. Addicted (Winehouse) 2:45
Disc 2 tracks:
1. Valerie (Chowdhury, Harding, McCabe, Payne, Pritchard) 3:53
2. Cupid (Cooke) 3:48
3. Monkey Man (Hibbert) 2:56
4. To Know Him Is to Love Him (Winehouse) 3:16
5. Hey Little Rich Girl (Byers, Hall) 3:35
6. You’re Wondering Now (Dodd) 2:33
7. Some Unholy War (Spector) 2:25
8. Love Is a Losing Game (Winehouse) 3:43