Back to Black – Amy Winehouse

Released October 27, 2006 this second and final album was inspired by her tumultuous relationship with her then ex-boyfriend/future husband. She worked with the Dap-Kings to capture the ’60s girl group sound and with Mark Ronson and Salaam Remi to incorporate contemporary beats. Its popularity caused labels to seek out more experimental female artists. The album won four Grammy’s including Best Pop Album and was nominated for Album of the Year. It is the 2nd best selling album of the 21st century in the UK, where it is certified 13x Platinum. It has sold more than 12 million copies worldwide. Amy died July 23, 2011 at the age of 27.

Jason: She was troubled.

Brad: Yes, much like many artists but she was so naturally talented.

Jason: When I was listening to this I thought “if she were still around and making music would her sound have evolved? Would she be as iconic?” Part of her legacy is that she died so young.

Brad: I wonder that too. This album became such a huge hit around the world very quickly when it came out. She had an amazing sound that even though it was a throwback to the 60s sound, it still sounded fresh and appealed to many different generations at the same time.  

Jason: Because of that “oldies” sound it makes the album have a timeless quality. There really aren’t any artists today that emulate that. Maybe Adele. Duffy for a short time.

Brad: I think British artists like Adele, Duffy, Estelle and others all got record deals and/or were promoted more because of Amy Winehouse’s success

Jason: Yes, that is true. Is there a favorite or least favorite song of yours on this album?

Brad: By far my favorite song on this album is “You Know I’m No Good”. In fact, I think it is one of the best songs of the past 20 years. I had forgotten that Amy wrote all the songs on this album. 

Jason: Our friend Remember Jones and his band have covered this entire album. It’s a lot of fun. My favorites are “Just Friends” and “Love Is a Losing Game”. But I do NOT like “Me & Mr Jones.”

Brad: What kind of fuckery is this? I think that song is great!

Jason: I am not 100% sure. I just don’t like the style of the song.

Brad: I don’t dislike any song on this album but probably my least favorite are “Some Unholy War” or “Just Friends”.

Jason: I’ll tell you why I like “Just Friends” it’s because of all the trumpet two-thirds of the way through. I love a good horn section. Oh and “Back to Black” is a great song as well. 

Brad: That makes sense that you like the trumpet parts of “Just Friends”. Amy only had one other album before this called Frank but I hadn’t heard that until after the “Back to Black” album came out. Frank is really good too but not quite as good as this one. 

Jason: Yes, I am not very familiar with Frank. What are some aspects of this album that you think make it unique or popular?

Brad: I think it is a combination of her voice, the soulful throwback sound and lyrics about edgier adult topics.

Jason: When you first hear it you are like “oh, this is fun” then when you actually listen you’re like “oh. OH. OH! Wow. Okay, this is really deep and tragic and honest.”

Brad: Exactly. I think “Rehab” is a genius song but it does take on a somewhat sad quality since her death. I was lucky enough to see her twice in 2007. The first time I saw her at the Vic I was blown away by that voice coming out of her body. So big and rich yet effortless. The second time I saw her at Lollapalooza, she still sounded great but her eyes looked completely blank. Then I had tickets to see her a third time at Aragon Ballroom a little later that year but that show got canceled because she really needed to go to rehab. 

Jason: Did I ever see her live?

Brad: Your concert memory is so bad. But no, you did not see her.

Jason: Yeah, it is really bad. I don’t know why.

Brad: That’s okay. Marvel movies completely leave my memory after I see them and you remember every detail of them.

Jason: True. It’s sad that the second time you saw her she just wasn’t “there”.

Brad: I think the saddest thing about her addiction is that it became a “joke” to the public and the media. I also hate that her management kept booking her to do big shows all over the world where she was clearly intoxicated and often looked like she didn’t know where she was. The whole thing is so sad.

Jason: Yes, she was really taken advantage of at the end there. But we do have this album to remember her by. What grade do you give it?

Brad: I do love that this album continues to be popular. It has been one of the top selling vinyl albums every year since she died. I would give this album an A-.

Jason: I am giving this an A- as well because of how unique and timeless it is. 

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Below is the scratch-off artwork from the 100 Bucket List poster that makes her look like a beehived alien.

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