While Amy Winehouse, who tragically passed away today (23 July), might have been better known for her life outside the music in her final years, that reputation sadly overshadows her immense contribution to music.
Rocketing to fame in 2003 with her Ivor Novello-winning, Mercury-nominated jazz-soul masterpiece ‘Frank’, and following it up three years later with the five times Grammy-winning ‘Back To Black’, Amy Winehouse leaves a small but vital catalogue that will seal her reputation as one of the greatest singers of the last decade.
Here’s a look back at her best moments. Share your memories below.
‘In My Bed’
One of the standout tracks from her debut builds on the same sample from Nas’ ‘Made You Look’ but in this case blends a sultry soul with distinct post-millenial production, flute flutters and a soft chorus to mesmerising effect.
‘You Sent Me Flying’
The flipside to ‘In My Bed’ (the pair formed the third single from ‘Frank’) strips it right down to a simple piano accompaniment to showcase Amy’s unrivalled vocal talents before adding a simple breakbeat halfway through. “His message was brutal but the delivery was kind” she sings halfway through the tale, and you’re right there with her throughout.
‘Love Is A Losing Game’
This simple yet heartbreaking track has been covered by Prince and nominated as George Michael’s Desert Island Disc. Its lyrics, meanwhile, have been studied by students at Cambridge university. Hardly surprising, considering their devastating simplicity: “Love is a losing game / One I wish I’d never played / What a mess we made / Now the final frame / Love is a losing game”.
‘Back To Black’
Another track that, despite its shuffling Motown-esque bedrock and trademark vocals, contains perhaps its most potent punch in the lyrics. “We only said good-bye with words / I died a hundred times / You go back to her / And I go back to black.”
A frenetic collaboration with Mark Ronson that showed artists how a cover version should be done. Won’t be leaving the nation’s consciousness anytime soon.
‘Tears Dry On Their Own’
That Marvin Gaye / Tammi Terrell sample, that captivating storytelling voice, that building energy – pure perfection.
‘You Know I’m No Good’
From the hip hop beat to the horn parps via the confessional lyrics, this track perfected that playful / sorrowful hybrid Amy and her band pulled off often.
‘There Is No Greater Love’
Amy needed little instrumentation to back her up on this astonishing take on the 70 year old jazz standard. Miles Davis, Dinah Washington and Billie Holiday have all tackled the track over the years and Amy’s rendition is right up there with the best of them.
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Finally, lest we only remember her less successful shows of late, a reminder she could pull it out of the bag when she wanted to.
Here’s her debut album ‘Frank’ in full.
And here’s ‘Back To Black’.
Share your favourite memories of Amy Winehouse below.