Author: Bruce Jenkins Date Posted:20 August 2021
If you are a committed Amy Winehouse fan you’ll want Amy Winehouse Remixes simply for its stunning good looks. Although there are no design credits on the cover, a lot of love and skill has gone into this stylish package. On the front cover, a sweet photo of the singer spinning a disc on a vintage record player, clearly having a good time. The back cover has a black and white reproduction from Frank, Winehouse’s debut album, but whereas the original colour snap showed a triple tower of CDs, this expanded version shows the pile of vinyl stacked next to those digital discs. Nice touch for a vinyl remix album.
The fifteen song track list has four cuts from Frank and five from Back To Black, with the remaining six tracks being different versions of half-a-dozen of the above. The back cover picks out those responsible for the remixes in yellow—the only colour on the outer sleeve. Inside, each disc is housed in its own inner sleeve; the translucent yellow one listing songs, credits and times, the delicious turquoise one reprinting the lyrics. And here’s another neat stylistic touch: the coloured vinyl matches the tone of each inner sleeve. It all makes one think of classy, colourful cocktails served in swanky late-night venues.
What of the music? Aficionados of the art of the remix can enjoy endless debates about what they add to the original recording, but suffice to say there are some heavy hitters here, including Hot Chip, MJ Cole, and Jay-Z (who adds his own vocal section to the second version of "Rehab"). Although none of the remixes could be described as radical, there are some different textures on show, especially in rhythm/beat. Listeners may be struck, for instance, by how the more insistent dance beat placed under "F**k Me Pumps" adds an urgency, a desperation even, to what came across on Frank as a more quirky number. Generally, the jazz feel of the original albums is translated to a club atmosphere on Remixes.
One of the strong points overall is the respect paid to the Winehouse voice. This is absolutely as it should be; she was a versatile singer who could sound tough and tender in the same line, furious and achingly vulnerable in adjacent verses. She was bawdy and soulful as fuck and for those who had followed her story, the early alcohol-related death was as awful as it was inevitable.
One cannot help wondering at the decision to include two remixes of six songs; were there no other mix-masters who wanted to offer an Amy alternative? It means that the turquoise record is eerily reminiscent of the yellow one, but for dedicated fans that’s probably OK. Spin the one you prefer on any given day.
For those unfamiliar with the brief career and wayward life of Amy Jade Winehouse, start with the studio albums Frank and Back To Black (the latter is featured at the DR blog, here). Hers is a small catalogue, but one filled with strong songs, varied arrangements and her fabulous voice. The already converted should snap up Remixes while it is available; it’s an elegant tribute to a talented artist.
© Bruce Jenkins 2021