Update October 31st: As news breaks of a forthcoming Amy Winehouse album, we’re re-opening the debate on whether or not new material should be released.
The new release will be called ‘Amy Winehouse Lioness: Hidden Treasures’ and was put together by longtime collaborator and friend Mark Ronson as well as Salaam Remi. It will feature 12 tracks, including covers of the Shirelles’ ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow’, Donny Hathaway’s ‘A Song For You’ and Ruby & The Romantics’ ‘Our Day Will Come’. Check here for the full story and all the details, and join the debate below. The following was originally posted on 23rd July 2011.
I was searching through Amy Winehouse’s news feed on the site a few weeks back when it suddenly struck me quite how long her disastrous gigging career went on for. From Serbia and Dubai this year right back to London in 2007 via St Lucia in ’09, V Festival in ’08 and numerous others, Amy Winehouse had a long and illustrious history of shambolic and aborted gigs and it begs the question – why did she keep doing them?
Was she forced, coerced or just vigorously encouraged? Did she have a say in the matter, or were they presented as a fait accompli? Why was she consistently prodded onto a stage – forcibly pushed out to the crowd according to one recent report – when she quite clearly was never in a fit state?
I last saw her three years ago at Bestival, and it was a well-documented shambles. It wasn’t funny; it wasn’t tragicomic – it was just tragic. It smacked of someone, somewhere, milking a cash cow bone dry. I don’t know if you saw the Elvis program on BBC4 on Friday but there was a moment when the singer’s impresario Colonel Parker’s overriding modus operandi is revealed: “Get him on the stage”. At any cost. And Parker’s famous words when informed of Elvis’ death: “Why, I’ll just go on managing him”.
Unsurprisingly, talk has turned – two days after Amy’s death – to her unreleased third album, a collection of demos and tracks she spent the last few years working on, and if any of it should see the light of day.
Of course, the demand is there. Sales of her two studio albums ‘Frank’ and ‘Back To Black’ have rocketed since Saturday. Everywhere from the NME office to my local florist has been playing her hits on rotation. And the unreleased stuff sounds promising. Her goddaughter, Dionne Bromfield, says it’s “very good” while the co-president of Island Records Darcus Beese insists some of the tracks “floored” him. Amy herself revealed it’s “very much the same as my second album where there’s a lot of jukebox stuff”.
The posthumous release is always contentious and wildly unpredictable. For every ‘Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay’ or The Pale King there’s a ‘Michael’. Luke Lewis argued last year, around the time of the Jimi Hendrix ‘Valleys Of Neptune’ release, that while “they suit the commercial interests of the living, they seldom do much for the artistic reputation of the dead”.
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That a third Winehouse release will line several pockets handsomely is indisputable. The question is, do we want, or need, or deserve, to hear Amy’s unfinished tracks? If they’re anything like her cover of ‘It’s My Party’, probably not.
But, despite the nagging feeling we’re complicit in her exploitation, and the acceptance they’ll be far from polished, the curiosity and hope there’s a few more ‘Love Is A Losing Game’’s out there will probably win out. Let’s just hope Akon doesn’t show up.