Way more than just a box set of the key albums from the all-too-short career of Amy Winehouse – as this massive package also features a wealth of rarities and live tracks – most making their vinyl debut in this limited collection! The set leads off with Frank – the stunning debut from UK soul singer Amy Winehouse – a vocalist with a sound that's instantly captivating, and which will be with us for years! Amy's clearly cut her chops in jazz, but also has a laidback and soulful personality – easily shifting between modes for the right mood of each song, without any of the pretensions that would ruin an album like this.
The backings have a proud stepping feel that fits well with tunes like "In My Bed", "What Is It About Men", "F*ck Me Pumps", and "You Sent Me Flying" – really keeping Amy's spirit fresh throughout the whole set! Next is Back to Black – an incredible album from Amy Winehouse – even way better than her fantastic debut! Although a contemporary soul album, this one's steeped in tradition – soul styles that run the gamut from Detroit down to Kingston, and which are carried off here with a rougher, sharper-edged sound than before! The instrumentation on here is really mindblowing – almost at a Motown level, with isolated instruments really crackling out from the fuller backings – all set to rhythms that snap and bounce, and are almost a bit funky at times.
Credit is definitely due to producers Mark Ronson and Salaam Remi – but Amy's vocals are really tremendous too – classic, but really personal and fresh! Titles include "Rehab", "Just Friends", "Back To Black", "Love Is A Losing Game", "He Can Only Hold Her", "Some Unholy War", and "Me & Mr Jones". Next is Lioness Hidden Treasures – a (sadly) posthumous release from Amy Winehouse – a voice we loved for a couple good years before knowing how troubled she was in real life and now lament the loss of – and this set, largely put together by producer Salaam Remi turned out surprisingly well! It'd be pretty easy to bow to cynicism, but for our money, there's more than enough strong stuff here. It features production by Remi, plus Mark Ronson on a couple tracks, and it's a mix of styles that ably demonstrate Amy's depth as an interpreter.
There's some great, kinda late night jazzy soul numbers, classic level 60s R&B and thoroughly modern hip hop soul – all with strong vocal performances from Amy. Includes "Our Day Will Come", "Between The Cheats", "Tears Dry (Original Version)", "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow (2011)", "Like Smoke" feat Nas (and some eerily timely lyricism, as of this album's release date), "Valerie ('68 Version)", "Half Time", "The Girl From Ipanema", "Half Time", "Body & Soul" with Tony Bennett, "A Song For You" and more. Next is the 2LP set Live In London – the vinyl debut of material from the DVD of the same name – with titles that incclude "Just Friends", "Cherry", "Back To Black", "Wake Up Alone", "Tears Dry On Their Own", "He Can Only Hold Her/Doo Wop (That Thing)", "Valerie", "Rehab", "Me & Mr Jones", "Monkey Man" and more. Last is the album Rarities – which features three tracks from BBC Sessions, four tracks from the iTunes festival in 2006, two tracks from Live At T In The Park in 2004, and a few more live tracks too! (Limited numbered edition.) ~ Dusty Groove