Amy Winehouse - Back To Black

NME.COM feature on Amy Winehouse - Back To Black album including album review, artwork, tracks, listen now, tour dates, discography and more.

Album Review

Release date: 26 March 2007

Amy Winehouse - Back To Black

Amy Winehouse

Back To Black

Occasionally, ‘Back To Black’ slips down the charts to Number eight, maybe nine. In fact, it’s only ventured out of the Top 10 once all year. This Deluxe Edition has already charted at 22, so there’s every chance that you’ll soon see the pair side-by-side. Disappointing, then, that the eight-track ‘bonus disc’ opens with a cover of a cover: a lo-fi version of ‘Valerie’....

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  • Dec 11, 2007

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Amy Winehouse - Back To Black: Wikipedia Album Entry

Back to Black is the second studio album by English R&B/soul singer and songwriter Amy Winehouse, released in October 2006 on Island Records. The album has spawned a number of singles such as "Rehab", "You Know I'm No Good", "Back to Black", "Tears Dry on Their Own", and "Love Is a Losing Game". Back to Black has received universal critical acclaim, and has been praised for its classic jazz/soul vibe, "vintage production style", accomplished songwriting, and Winehouse's mature and emotive singing style. It has appeared on numerous year-end Top Ten Lists produced by The Austin Chronicle (number four), Billboard Magazine (number three), Blender Magazine (number eight), Slant Magazine (number four), Entertainment Weekly (number two), The New York Times (number three) and Time Magazine (number one).

At the 50th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony, Back to Black won five awards, tying the record (with Lauryn Hill, Alicia Keys, Norah Jones, Beyoncé, and Alison Krauss) for the most awards won by a female artist in a single ceremony. The album won Best Pop Vocal Album, while "Rehab" won Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, Song of the Year and Record of the Year; Winehouse also won Best New Artist. So far, the album has sold over 11 million copies. With 5.5 million copies sold in 2007 it was the biggest selling album of the year.

Background

The track "Tears Dry on Their Own" features the backing music from Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell's 1967 smash hit, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough".

On Winehouse's song "Rehab", she mentions "Ray" and "Mr. Hathaway", in reference to Ray Charles and Donny Hathaway. However, in her recent performances, she replaces "Ray" with "Blake", referring to her husband, Blake Fielder-Civil, who is currently in prison awaiting trial, for charges relating to Grievous bodily harm.

Release and promotion

A deluxe edition of the album was released in Europe on 5 November 2007. The re-issue features the original studio album remastered as well as a bonus disc including various B-sides, rare, and live tracks, including the Live Lounge rendition of the single "Valerie", which was originally only available (in studio form) on Mark Ronson's Version album.

Critical

Back to Black was a critical darling and drew numerous comparisons to Motown-era R&B. Rolling Stone said the album finds Winehouse "a nervy, witty songstress whom indie rockers, pop fans and hip-hoppers can dig." People magazine called Back to Black "a disc that gets better with every listen." The New Statesman remarked that the album was better than her last, calling it "an astonishing soul record, soaking up the sounds of Motown and 1960s girl groups and spitting them back with panache, glamour and a contemporary twist." Billboard said Back to Black was a "brutal breakup album that can sit with the best of them, set to the sounds of music's finest early rock moments." Dorian Lynskey with The Guardian gave the album four-our-of-five stars and remarked that "Winehouse demonstrated her aptitude for a tart couplet on her debut album three years ago, but this time the music, too, packs a similar punch, and the upshot is a 21st-century soul classic."

The song "Rehab" won the Ivor Novello Award for "Best Contemporary Song" on 24 May 2007. Time magazine named "Rehab" one of The 10 Best Songs of 2007, ranking it at #1. Writer Josh Tyrangiel praised Winehouse for her confidence, opining, “What she is is mouthy, funny, sultry, and quite possibly crazy” and, "It's impossible not to be seduced by her originality. Combine it with production by Mark Ronson that references four decades worth of soul music without once ripping it off, and you've got the best song of 2007."

The album won numerous awards at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards, including "Record of the Year" and "Song of the Year", and earned Ronson the 2008 Grammy Award for "Producer of the Year, Non-Classical". In July 2007, the album made the shortlist for the 2007 . Other nominees included the eventual winners Klaxons, Dizzee Rascal, and the incumbent winner Arctic Monkeys. This is the second time Winehouse has been nominated for the Mercury Music Prize; her debut album Frank was shortlisted in 2004. This album was ranked number forty on Rolling Stone's list of the Top 50 Albums of 2007. Entertainment Weekly critic Chris Willman ranked Back to Black #2 in the 10 BEST 'Records of the Year: Music' writing, "Black will hold up as one of the great breakthrough CDs of our time." He adds, "In the end, the singer's real-life heartache over her incarcerated spouse proves what's obvious from the grooves: When this lady sings about love, she means every word."

Commercial

Back to Black went to number one on the UK Albums Chart numerous times from January 2007 having entered at number three upon its release in late October 2006. It debuted at number seven on the Billboard 200, becoming the highest debut entry for an album by a British female solo artist at the time. Following her multiple Grammy wins however, the album has since reached a new peak of #2 in the US the following week after her grammy performance.

The first single released from the album on 23 October 2006 was the Ronson-produced "Rehab", a song about her past refusal to attend an alcohol rehabilitation centre despite prodding by her management company. On 22 October 2006, based solely on download sales, it entered the UK Singles Chart at number nineteen and when the physical single was released the following week, it climbed to number seven. By the end of 2007, the album was certified five-time platinum by the BPI, making it the best-selling album of 2007.

The second single from the album was "You Know I'm No Good". The single was released on 8 January 2007 with a remix featuring rap vocals by Ghostface Killah. It reached number eighteen on the UK Singles Chart and, in the same week's chart, "Rehab" climbed back up to number twenty. Back to Black was released in the United States in March 2007, with "You Know I'm No Good" as its lead single. A third UK single, "Back to Black", was released on 30 April 2007, and peaked at number twenty-five.

"Rehab" rose to number ten on the Billboard Hot 100 the week of 14 June, after a performance of the song at the 2007 MTV Movie Awards. The following week it peaked at number nine.

Two further singles were released from the album. "Tears Dry on Their Own" was released on 13 August 2007, and peaked at number sixteen in the UK, while "Love Is a Losing Game", released on 10 December 2007, reached number forty-six. The album is the number 1 selling album in the UK for 2007, selling over 1.5 million copies in the year and number 1 international album in Greece.


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