Monday, March 08, 2004


By Amy Winehouse

NEILL says:

I surprised myself the other day by buying a record based on the strength of absolutely nothing more than the fact that I quite fancied the singer. This is the sort of behaviour that would be risible in a thirteen-year-old boy, so in one of my own advanced years it is more than a little alarming. Especially given that I've spent the last five years or so mocking one Bobby Hazlehurst for once buying a 'Sleeper' CD for the precisely the same reasons. Still, though - Louise Wener? I mean, it's hardly the same thing.

Anyway, given the above, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that 'Frank' by Amy Winehouse was actually quite a good record. Because, let's face it, it could have sucked more dick than Michael Portillo in the back of a cab with the members of Busted, and I'd have had no-one to blame but myself. But no; Winehouse has an astonishing growling motherlover of a voice that would do credit to a 300-lb Detroit-born Soul Mama, let alone a damn cute 19-year old Jewish girl from North London. (Which is what she is, apparently). Possibly Winehouse's greatest strength, apart from the 'damn cute' thing and the ‘shit-hot singer’ thing, is her lyrical wit and intelligence. 'Fuck Me Pumps' is a hilarious ode to Saturday-night High-street scrubbers everywhere ("You can't sit down right / Cause your jeans are too tight / And you're lucky it's Ladies Night"), whilst 'I heard love is blind' contains the singularly poetic lines:

"I couldn't resist him, his eyes were like yours/
His hair was exactly your shade of brown/
He's just not as tall, but I couldn't tell/
It was dark and I was lying down"

In general, Winehouse combines cool maturity and brassy showstopping confidence with the faintest suggestion of vulnerability in a way that pretty much guarantees her a future as an icon to generations of as yet unborn gay men. There is, unfortunately, a weak point in all this fabulousness; and it is in the rather key area of the songs themselves. On the numbers where Winehouse has a tune to match her (such as the absolute belter 'In My Bed') it all goes off thrillingly, but too often her undoubtedly astonishing voice is left to carry a series of rather unremarkable and repetitive melodies.

Still, though. Like I say. DAMN cute.


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