Classic Recordings: Amy Winehouse – Back to Black

Amy Winehouse – Back To Black

Universal Republic  (Vinyl)

By Paul Rigby

It still seems rather frustrating to her many fans that the name ‘Amy Winehouse’ is synonymous with excessive drinking, drugs, ladette behaviour, spats with the paparazzi and a tragic death. Anyone who has heard her voice and seen her perform will connect with her as an artist, a unique voice, a talented songwriter and a woman who was evolving at high speed in terms of her creativity. Her first album, Frank (2003), was a jazz oriented investigation that allowed her to explore her roots as well as her own musical ability. After all, jazz was infused within her family life and was part of her childhood.

Unlike many of her contemporaries Winehouse managed to not only keep her delivery loose and carefree but her backing easy and relaxed. Back to Black followed a similar track in terms of its fresh, open style but that was the only similarity. In fact, Back To Black (BTB), recorded three years later, dropped the jazz genre in its entirety, moving onto classic soul as its influence. Wallowing in a flair that still bedazzles the listener, BTB retained Winehouse’s charming approach to language that is often present in her lyrics revealing a humour and an insight that could often be surprisingly left-field, making the listener reflect on her words. That was, of course, mixed with a healthy – some might exclaim unhealthy – candour about her private life that was sometimes revealed in a quite vicious fashion. The contrasts marked a lyrical fascination.

Speaking about the release of the then new album, Winehouse marked the differences within the two albums, “I like all of the tracks off the album (Back to Black), I’m really proud of all of them. The last album (Frank) was very different, the songs sounded like they were all done by different people. I wanted to make a record that sounded like it was made in two weeks in one place. And it kind of does sound like that. I think it’s a more poignant album. The last one was more ‘Screw you! Everything went wrong.’ This album is more, ‘We tried.’.”

Stand-out track: Back to Black

This one is all about the voice and, hence, we’re looking at the upper midrange regions to effectively handle Winehouse’s delivery. To efficiently track her vocal modulations, her inherently controlled emotions and her phrasing, your speakers will have to concentrate upon clarity and the removal of distortion in order not to cloud her performance.

Back To Black – A Recorded History

2006 CD Universal Republic 171 304-1

2007 CD/Dig Universal Records 174 909 7

2007 CD Universal Records 175 211 9

2007 LP Universal Records 173 412 8

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