25 July 2011

I treated myself like I knew I would, I told you I was trouble, you know I’m no good….

In honour of her very sad passing this past weekend I thought I would republish this post from May 2007. Needless to say this is a very deep loss to the music community and her talent will be missed! She was a true original....RIP, Amy...


I picked up the Amy Winehouse CD, Back To Black , this weekend and thought I would try something new – writing about it as I listen for the first time. Over the last few months (her second album, it was released in October 2006) I’ve heard a track here and there but this is my first REAL sit down with it. So far it’s a smooth mix of jazz and R & B.

What strikes me most is her retro sounding voice. If I didn’t have a picture of her in front of me (she definitely looks like a modern woman – tattoos and all) I would think she’s some 1960’s girl jazz group reincarnate (were there actually any? But still….). This isn’t surprising since she sites as her influences many female jazz/R & B singers – Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington and the late great Minnie Ripperton to name a few.

At this point I’m about half way through the CD and so far I would say I’m really loving the music! Somehow, some way you get the feeling that this could be a live show in a club in NYC in the mid 1960’s. I swear it’s truly amazing how good this stuff sounds! Don’t get me wrong – it’s not some faux retread, it’s fresh and interesting and downright impressive! Even the backing vocals have it down…back when they added almost more than real instruments and certainly more than they add these days. I think that was what was so cool about the music then - it was more basic and stripped down – you couldn’t hide behind synthesizers and electronic drums – you had to work with what you had and vocals stood out more because of those now antiquated methods of recording and more ‘acoustic’ instruments. Nowadays it’s easy to fill in musical gaps – to make something better than it is because of all the recording tricks, and cutting and pasting one can do whilst in the studio and after the fact.

While I can’t be certain of the methods used in recording this CD, I can say that after hearing the whole album straight through it’s true to it’s word throughout– honest, pure and definitely a sexy listen! If you’re looking for something retro but new and fresh – this is it! She’s got a killer voice – the songs are cool and it’s a fun ride! Check her out at itunes, www.myspace.com/amywinehouse, or http://www.amywinehouse.co.uk/

My mother always told me ‘those who can’t do – teach’. She felt that if you were really capable at your art – you wouldn’t be teaching it – you would be a successful artisan. This was especially loud in my ears as she fought my tenth grade English teacher when he gave me a ‘C’ on a paper she (and others – including my mother’s own college professor) felt was a college level paper. She even tried to get the hack fired - that’s how strongly she was behind it. So when recently I was asked to donate time to run lights for the adult version of “Grease” for the kiddie school where I have worked on and off over the last six months – I was a little skeptical. Of course, it was all for their scholarship fund – about 30 students a session are on scholarship – so that wasn’t the issue – every person working on it donated their time – but I was unsure of what I would see on stage. In the adult versions of these musicals all the teachers, some former teachers and a few parents act and sing their way through the show.

I was, to say the least, pleasantly surprised. After months of seeing/working these kiddie shows where, despite the talent that some of these kids come from, the apple does apparently fall from the tree, it was great to see a show how it’s supposed to be done! There were harmonies, people being IN character, knowing their lines and knowing the songs. Overall I was impressed by the actors on stage! Of course some were better than others and some were more in tune than others but no matter what it was a lot of fun! Everyone on stage and in the audience had a blast – and it showed! At one point last night I held a blackout a little longer because “Good Lovin” came on (I know – “Grease” takes place in the 50’s and this song came out in 1966 – a point not lost on me) and everyone in the theatre started clapping in time and singing along, it was a cool moment that you think only happens in movies. But the point is – while no one on stage is an academy award winning actor or singer these teachers impressed me. They can do!

Thanks for tuning in…Until next Monday….CHEERS!