Under Review

Amy Winehouse

Back to Black (Universal)

Island; 27/10/2006

Review By Quinn Omori

Everyday, music fans are hit with claims about how piracy is killing the music industry. Everyday, as this dying industry scrambles to find a solution, music fans have to live with the consequences. I can only imagine it’s this scrambling that somehow explains why Amy Winehouse’s fabulous new record, Back to Black, ended up with three release dates and three different track listings.

Across the pond, in October of last year, this record was unleashed to an impressive amount of fanfare. Apparently, it hit Canadian shelves in December, although with a rather lacklustre publicity campaign behind it, you’d be forgiven if you didn’t notice. While the brain trust over at Universal Canada were busy figuring out ways to push the new Hedley record, Winehouse’s profile was elsewhere growing by leaps and bounds, filling pages of both the NME and English tabloids, her album skipping its way up the charts. Since the majors are always ready to strike when the iron is hot, a US release was quickly slated for the middle of March, a full five months after its UK release date, eight weeks after the record hit #1 in Britain, and after anyone in America who had got wind of the initial hype had grabbed it off of LimeWire. But enough nitpicking, we music fans should just be happy that we can finally purchase this stunning follow-up to Winehouse’s spotty but endearing debut, Frank, right?

Just one question lingers—what version of the disc are you going to end up with if you can find it at your local record shop? The UK release comes with eleven tracks, starting with the soulful stomp of “Rehab” and ending as Winehouse blows over the Impressions-inspired strut of “Addicted.” The initial Canadian pressing weighs in at a slight ten tracks, leaving off the latter and finishing with the Motown shuffle of “He Can Only Hold Her.” But according to Amazon.ca, the domestic release now features the same number of tracks that our Commonwealth cousins enjoy. Of course, we both get screwed out of the beautifully stripped-down, acoustic take of “Love is a Losing Game.” The bonus track that rounds out the US version of the record brings the tracklist that our Yankee neighbours enjoy up to a full dozen tunes.
Confused? So am I.

You’ll want to get a hold of Back to Black somehow, but I’m a bit hesitant to suggest that you pick it up at the store, since who knows what you’re going to end up with. I’m sure you have “other” ways of getting music nowadays, anyhow. You can make up your illicit downloading and quasi-legal home taping to Winehouse if she comes to town by buying her a Rickstasy (her favourite cocktail). Or, if you don’t want to encourage her drinking habit, maybe just toss a wadded up twenty on stage. I guarantee that it’s about twenty-five times what she gets from an album sale anyhow.