Return to 2007 #8 – Amy Winehouse – Back to Black

danieltalsky | Albums,Best of the Year,Reviews | Saturday, December 6th, 2008

I'm returning to 2007 to see how my Best Albums of 2007 list has fared this year before tackling the best of 2008.

My review from the tinyblog:

There is just no doubt that Amy Winehouse is a tremendous talent. I think that her bizarre life and substance abuse have somehow sullied her musical legacy in some people's eyes, but that's like saying Billie Holliday's musical legacy is somehow sullied because of her personal problems, and that's absurd. And yes, I think they approach being in the same league.

Amy is a songwriter and vocalist of the highest order. Her dark vision of the world matches her life, and it's as if a motown great of the 60's was transported to the present. If Amy survives her vices and personal problems and keeps making music like this, she will undoubtedly be considered one of the greatest pop female vocalists of all times. I tend to like Neko Case's less universal, more symbolic style of songwriting, but they are both very similar to me in terms of being the female vocalists that I'll chastise kids for not knowing about when I'm 60.

I did like Rehab and You Know I'm No Good when they came out, but the songs that I just find amazing these days are Me and Mr. Jones and Tears Dry on Their Own.

She shares a band with the similarly spectacular Sharon Jones (the Dap-Kings) and their new albums are remarkably comparable. I didn't hear Sharon's new album until pretty recently so it hasn't had as much time to grow on me, but to me, Sharon Jones fell short of the almost explosive brilliance of the best of Amy Winehouse. Maybe another dozen listens will change my mind. I don't care, I'm glad music like this is getting made today. This is a dirty, dirty, beautiful album.

If you already love this album, she just finally released her first album, Frank, in the US. It's no Back to Black, but it's still awesome.

My Sweet Snob Commentary, a year later:

Oh how I wish that Amy Winehouse had somehow got her shit together and was on her way to becoming the modern Aretha Franklin-like soul powerhouse of a generation.  Instead she actually did go to rehab a few times, her husband went to prison, and her life generally went to shit.  If she comes out with a new album in the next two years… well, let's just say I don't think it's going to happen.

This album is pretty timeless on its own though.  Let's just put the hits aside and talk about some of the other phenomenal songs.  For my money, I'd go with Tears Dry On Their Own and the astounding Some Unholy War.

If you really don't feel like you can live without a dusky-voiced damaged British soul singer, you could always try Adele.

Some Unholy War:

[audio:http://thesweetsnob.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/09-some-unholy-war.mp3]

and the super-tuff Me and Mr. Jones, she's pissed because she missed the Slick Rick gig, but she'll let him make it up to her:

[audio:http://thesweetsnob.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/03-me-and-mr-jones.mp3]
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