01. Intro / Stronger Than Me 03:54
02. You Sent Me Flying 06:50
03. Know You Now 03:03
04. Fuck Me Pumps 03:20
05. I Heard Love Is Blind 02:10
06. Moody's Mood For Love 03:28
07. (There Is) No Greater Love 02:08
08. In My Bed 05:17
09. Take The Box 03:20
10. October Song 03:24
11. What It Is About Men 03:29
12. Help Yourself 05:01
13. Amy Amy Amy / Outro 13:16
Much can be said about Amy Winehouse, one of the U.K.'s flagship vocalists during the 2000s. The British press and tabloids seemed to focus on her rowdy behavior and heavy alcohol consumption, but fans and critics alike embraced her rugged charm and brash sense of humor because of her distinctively soulful and jazzy vocals. Her platinum-selling breakthrough album Frank elicited comparisons ranging from Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan to Macy Gray and Lauryn Hill. And interestingly enough, one can often hear aspects of each of those singers' vocal repertoire in Winehouse's voice despite her strong cockney accent and vernacular. Born to a taxi-driving father and pharmacist mother, Winehouse grew up in the Southgate area in north London. Her upbringing was surrounded by jazz. Many of the uncles on her mother's side were all professional jazz musicians, and even her paternal grandmother was romantically involved with British jazz legend Ronnie Scott. While at home, she listened to and absorbed her parents' selection of greats: Dinah Washington, Ella Fitzgerald, and Frank Sinatra among others. However, in her teens, she was drawn to the rebellious spirit of TLC, Salt-N-Pepa, and other American R&B and hip-hop acts of the time.At the age of 16, after she had been expelled from stage school, she caught her first break when pop singer Tyler James, a schoolmate and close friend, passed on her demo tape to his A&R, who was searching for a jazz vocalist. That opportunity led her to attain a recording contract with Island Records. At the end of 2003, when she was 20 years old, Island released her debut album, Frank. With contributions from hip-hop producer and keyboardist Salaam Remi, Winehouse's amalgam of jazz, pop, soul, and hip-hop received rave reviews. The album was nominated for the 2004 Mercury Music Prize as well as two Brit Awards, but its lead single, "Stronger Than Me," won an Ivor Novello Award for Best Contemporary Song. Following her debut, the accolades and inquiring interviews appeared concurrently in the press with her tempestuous ongoings. In 2006, her management company finally suggested that she enter into rehab for alcohol abuse, but instead, she dumped the company and transcribed the ordeal into the U.K. Top Ten hit "Rehab." It was the lead single for her second critically acclaimed album, Back to Black. This time around the music delved into the sounds of '50s-'60s rock & roll, R&B, and soul with productions divided between Remi and British DJ and multi-instrumentalist Mark Ronson.
If a series of unfortunate comparisons (like the ones to follow) cause listeners to equate British vocalist Amy Winehouse with Macy Gray, it's only natural. Both come on like a hybrid of Billie Holiday and Lauryn Hill who's had a tipple and then attempted one more late-night set at a supper-club than they should have. Despite her boozy persona and loose-limbed delivery, though, Winehouse is an excellent vocalist possessing both power and subtlety, the latter an increasingly rare commodity among contemporary female vocalists (whether jazz or R&B). What lifts her above Macy Gray is the fact that her music and her career haven't been marketed within an inch of their life. Instead of Gray's stale studio accompaniments, Winehouse has talented musicians playing loose charts behind her with room for a few solos. Instead of a series of vocal mellifluities programmed to digital perfection, Winehouse's record has the feeling of being allowed to grow on its own -- without being meddled with and fussed over (and losing its soul in the process). Simply hearing Winehouse vamp for a few minutes over some Brazilian guitar lines on "You Sent Me Flying" is a rare and immense pleasure. Also, like Nellie McKay (but unlike nearly all of her contemporaries), Winehouse songs like "Fuck Me Pumps," "Take the Box," and "I Heard Love Is Blind" cast a cool, critical gaze over the music scene, over the dating scene, and even over the singer herself. With "In My Bed," she even proves she can do a commercial R&B production, and a club version of "Moody's Mood for Love" not only solidifies her jazz credentials but proves she can survive in the age of Massive Attack.