Amy Winehouse’s CD “Back to Black” burst onto the music scene suddenly, catapulting her to stardom and shining a light on her slightly unstable personal life. But, incarcerated husbands, onstage bumping, and rampant alcoholism aside, what she achieved was putting forth a sound that was something totally new in the industry at the time. The single, Rehab, was almost reminiscent of Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound style – horn heavy and authentic.
However, with any new release that contains such a breakaway hit single, the main question becomes – will the rest of the CD live up to the potential of this one runaway hit?
Well, Back to Black certainly does. In fact, in my opinion, there are truly stronger tracks on the album than Rehab. Rehab was, of course, highly personal and had an incredibly catchy hook – who can stop singing that, “No No No” refrain in their head for days after hearing the song? However, there is other material here – particularly the follow up single, Tears Dry on Their Own – that has an, overall, more interesting and complete story to tell and uses lyrics and rhyme schemes in a way that is more complicate and pleasing.
Back to Black opens with that fateful track, Rehab that drew so much attention Amy’s way. It then proceeds to You Know I’m No Good, which was also released as a single, and Me and Mr. Jones. Although you would be tempted to think that Me and Mr. Jones is a remake of the 1972 Billy Paul hit, it is an thoroughly original composition. Next comes Just Friends and then the title track Back to Black. Back to Black was an inspired choice to set the tone for the album, as the style of this song really typifies the composition as a whole – complete band with backup singers doing “ooo” and “aaahhh” three part harmonies, making you think you’ve been transported to the Sixties.
Next comes Love Is A Losing Game and then, what I personally feel is the highlight of the work, Tears Dry On Their Own. The message of Tears Dry on their own is that of coming into oneself and being comfortable with one’s own strength in the wake of a disastrous affair is one that can be widely related to.
Next comes the poignant ballad Wake Up Alone and Some Unholy War. The final original track on the CD is He Can Only keep up Her, and then the album finishes up with a remix of You Know I’m No Good.
Amy Winehouse hit a homerun with Back to Black!