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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excruciatingly honest , sexy and smouldering.
As for her voice: where does it come from, this extraordinary sound?
The music poures out of her, a stream of weathered, seasoned phrases, seemingly without effort, and mercifully without any of the ululating and over-emoting that blights so many performances in the soul-jazz field in which Winehouse operates.
For her, what matters is the quality of the notes,...
Published on Dec 19 2006 by Just in Miami

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Sweet and sour
All the songs on this album are good. The mastering is good but the pressing isn't. The first side play nicely but the second side is full of static noise...
Published 4 months ago by Four Winds


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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excruciatingly honest , sexy and smouldering., Dec 19 2006
This review is from: Back To Black (Audio CD)
As for her voice: where does it come from, this extraordinary sound?
The music poures out of her, a stream of weathered, seasoned phrases, seemingly without effort, and mercifully without any of the ululating and over-emoting that blights so many performances in the soul-jazz field in which Winehouse operates.
For her, what matters is the quality of the notes, not the quantity.

Amy Winehouse is, of course, almost as famous for her behaviour as for her music; tabloid newspapers in recent months have been peppered with the striking visage of this north London Jewish girl, accompanying lurid reports of her latest night on the razz. But here, on this fantastic set, she'd done so in moderation, because she seemed focused and together.
"Back to Black", is a more soulful and stripped-down collection than her jazzier debut, "Frank". The influence of girl groups from the 1950s and early '60s is plain: plinky keyboards, parpy brass, trebly guitar.

Some excellent background vocals provides weight and depth, while she and her band do a brilliant job of recreating the big soulful sound conjured up in the studio by producer Mark Ronson.
In songs such as "Me & Mr Jones", "Back to Black", "Love is a Losing Game" and "Rehab", we may hear the sound of Phil Spector, of Muscle Shoals, of the Shirelles and the Supremes.

But this is no mere retro soul show: these are not pastiches, but real emotional journeys from a woman with real emotional experiences.
She is a standout talent with a nice line in bitchy put-downs and a wondrous voice reminiscent of Dinah Washington.
Even so, her second album has surpassed all expectations.
This is the best British soul album in absolutely ages, a complete package of lovingly recreated Motown/60s girl group sounds, caustic, often excruciatingly honest lyrics, great finger popping tunes and a voice that does sexy and smouldering and dismissive contempt with equal alacrity.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Love it!, Jan. 19 2007
By 
JB "JB" (Guelph, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Back To Black (Audio CD)
I just bought this album as I came across a sample of her stuff on a website. Love it. Can't wait to listen to Frank. I rarely write reviews, but I just love this album and love Amy's voice/style. I've been waiting for an artist/album like this. Not as impressed with some of the newer R&B/soul bluesy pop out there right now and find myself often listening to a lot of older jazz and R&B when I'm in the mood for that kind of style. A really interesting mix of influences comes through on this album - Dinah Washington, Aretha Franklin, 60s girl groups, and modern R&B. Just love it. Highly recommended! I particularly like the upbeat numbers - i.e. Rehab.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rugged charm, distinctive vocals., Dec 19 2006
By 
Adarsh Amin - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Back To Black (Audio CD)
"Back to Black" is that rare thing: an album you can listen to from beginning to end, in order, over and over again - and find a new favourite every time.

Strutting, defiant she pokes the finger at past lovers demanding, sweetly, "What kind of f**kery is this?" (" Me & Mr Jones" ) and keeps us waiting four songs before the title track peaks - or plunges - into the crux of her theme. It begins with a pacing, pulsing piano chord before sinking into depression. "I died a hundred times...You go back to her, and I go back to...I go back to..."

Reluctant to accept defeat, resolution is deferred as the "I go back to..." refrain gathers strength until, beaten down to a whisper by the piano, she puts us out of our misery.

Back to...black. Yet, just when she seems ready to pack up her guitar and reach for the nearest bottle, drums kick in with the wistful, resigned "Love is A Losing Game", Winehouse's reworking of the archetypal 'getting over him' song. Piling metaphor on top of metaphor; she is relentlessly philosophical. Love is a losing hand, she declares; love is a fate resigned. Love - love is a losing game.

One criticism of the album is that it's too short. After packing 11 songs into just over 34 minutes of alcoholic, iconic crooning she bows out, presumably to go and "smoke [her] home grown".

The end result is a taut show reel that leaves us salivating, willing us to press play again - and move from the playfully titled last track 'Addicted' back into 'Rehab'. It's circular, compulsive. Were it not for the amount of bleeps needed - and the difficult of getting a song whose main refrain is "you smoke all my weed man" past the censors - each would be worthy of radio play, especially the motowny, doo woppish, "Me & Mr Jones".

Yet it's a little too introspective for the airwaves. Even the cover is dark. Where first album "Frank" pictured a grinning, pink clad Amy dragging a dog on a lead, this one shows her languid on a chair in an empty classroom, peering moodily out from between gothic fronds.

Well, it is called "Back to Black". Noticeably thinner (her shrinking frame has elicited mutterings of 'anorexia' from interviewers) and more angst-stricken, undercutting the powerful, almost masculine voice is a dissonant note of fragility - despite the bold reassurance of lines like "I'll battle till this bitter finale/Just me, my dignity and this guitar case." ("Some Unholy War").

Unlike "Frank", a bright-eyed newcomer surveying the musical landscape, Back to Black is a leap into the abyss of self-exploration. In contrast to her 2003 debut, there are no jazz standards covered and her writing credits appear on every track, oozing intimacy.

It works: we're poised on the edge of her cliffhanger. Let's just hope she doesn't fall off.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars RETRO SOUL.., March 19 2007
By 
joemacktheknife (East Hampton, NY) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Back To Black (Audio CD)
In U.K. Amy Winehouse has been a tabloid regular recently with tales of anoxeria, addiction, and drunken TV appearances, but she really should let her music speak for itself . . . especially when it's as good as this.

Her debut, "Frank", was sometimes stodgy and definitely over praised, but no praise is too high for this unashamedly retro, but beautifully observed and realised take on classic girl group pop and Motown soul.

The 11 songs all sound like great lost classics from the 60s, snappily written with a mix of bitterly caustic lyrics and finger popping tunes, then delivered in a voice that alternates sexy smouldering with dismissive contempt.

She started last year amid criticism from all corners over her dramatic weight loss and ended it heralded as the new queen of UK cool; with hair messier than a sleepover with Pete Doherty, a mouth like a drunken fish wife and an album swelling with the kind of lump-in-throat emotional soul last heard sometime in the late 70s, somewhere in Detroit

Hence it was somewhat of a surprise when it reared its sultry head again in 2006. With near genius production from hip pop mainstay Mark Ronson (who also had a finger in the tasty pie that was Lily Allen's debut), stomping, romping punk-rock-jazz was the order of the day as Ms Winehouse showed everyone what being a real lady is all about.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece, March 6 2007
By 
Pieter Uys "Toypom" (Johannesburg) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME)   
This review is from: Back To Black (Audio CD)
From the opening track Rehab I knew this was going to be a great album. Winehouse has a truly soulful voice that expresses al the different moods of the genre. Besides Rehab, my favourite track is called Love Is A Losing Game, a gem of a song in the lost love tradition with a beautiful melody. Another great one is You Know I'm No Good with its powerful sax. And Me & Mr Jones is a stunner. The music gains a distinctive flavour through the use of samples from classic 1960s pop songs, while the lyrics are intelligent and mature. There is a certain authenticity to this seamless blend of funk, R&B and pop music that reaches the heart and soul. And it's rare to find an album these days where every single track is memorable; Back To Black has thus been a very pleasant surprize. I am sure Winehouse wil prove to be a major talent in the years to come, judging by this excellent CD.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the real deal, Dec 26 2009
By 
This review is from: Back To Black (Audio CD)
I bought this CD after hearing a couple of very good Amy Winehouse songs on the radio. I loved this CD the first time I played it. Despite her off-beat public persona and her various problems with substance abuse, AW is a singular, ORIGINAL talent that blows her peers out of the water. Because of her originality, it is difficult to compare her with anyone else. Amy Winehouse has a sound and a style all her own. She is rough around the edges. She sings about trials in her life from the bottom of a pit. It sounds/feels like it's all real, like she sings from the heart and bares her soul. I want MORE MORE MORE. Even if AW were to self-destruct tomorrow, she would have left us a rare jewel to savour in this CD. She reminds me of a character out of Dickens. She lives and bleeds as she struggles against the odds, but her light shines through.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant, blistering hot summer soundtrack, June 5 2007
This review is from: Back To Black (Audio CD)
i cannot stop playing this brilliant cd. everyone i play it for runs out to buy it, then they, too, cannot stop playing this brilliant cd.
that voice, that voice...
the only disappointing moment i've had with "back to black" was when i opened the liner note booklet and realised that she really *isn't* a 73 year-old 200 pound black woman who was a huge star for 6 months in 1959, then wrongfully forgotten only to be resuscitated in 2007 to huge acclaim. despite the fact that she is only a 23 year-old anoxeric-looking middle class white girlie, amy reaches into your guts, twists them around, makes you laugh, make you dance, haunts you and leaves you wanting more.
why are there only 10 songs on this dazzling cd? why is frank (her previous release) nowhere as good as this? (mark ronson, the producer, seems to be a crucial part of the equation...check out her brilliant cover of "Valerie" on his new disc.)
more! more! more!
BUY this.
seriously.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jazz meets soul over a bottle of wine., March 20 2007
By 
Christi Serrao (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Back To Black (Audio CD)
Addiction to alcohol, marijuana, sex - just about anything you can get hooked on, Amy has been there, written a song about it, and is now looking for something else to feed her dependency.

Well, it makes for an interesting record.

As a songwriter Amy has grown and stretched her self, vocally she is in a new league breaking loose with Aretha-style vocal stylings on "Just Friends" or going gospel on the opening single "Rehab".

"Love Is A Losing Game" is pure classic modern songwriting: brief, to the point and drenched in emotion. Other highlights include the Nas inspired "Me and Mr Jones", the beautiful "Wake Up Alone" and "I'm No Good" - the personal epiphany that you can behave just as badly as all those guys that have messed you around and stamped all over you..

After a strident opening with (refusing to go to) "Rehab", she works through a patchwork of vices and denials and just about every genre going in a self-dramatising sweep of trauma and Tanqueray.

Swept along in the tide of her addictions, over waves of Aretha Franklin influences, her cigarette-tinged voice croons, twists and occasionally screeches to a complement of guitars, trumpets, even the odd flugelhorn.

You name it, she's not afraid to use it.

Experimental and confident, she flirts variously with R&B, soul and hip hop before returning to her home key: JAZZ.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars wrong tracklisting, Jan. 13 2007
By 
aser (Toronto, ON) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Back To Black (Audio CD)
I won't go on heaping praise on this album as that's already well covered by others. The only complaint is the omission of "Addicted" (track 11) on the Canadian pressing. Amazon incorrectly lists it as being on the cd. Lord knows why they felt the need to trim this song off as the album is already quite short. Universal/Island Canada get your act together.

I highly recommend Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings for anybody interested in this album. As various members of the Dap Kings served as session players for various tracks on "Back To Black".
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Listen!, Feb. 18 2009
By 
Kevin Ogren (Port Hardy, BC Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Back to Black (Audio CD)
Amy may be trainwreck, but her music is anything but. This is a great album. Every song is listenable, with a couple that are going to be classics. If you liked her first album Frank, this one is even better. Great CD for the car!
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Back To Black
Back To Black by Amy Winehouse (Audio CD - 2006)
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