Amy Winehouse: Lioness Hidden Treasures Reviewed

“Lioness : Hidden Treasures“, the third album from Amy Winehouse, without question one of the most talented, original, and best loved artists to emerge in popular music for decades, will be released on December 5th through Island Records. The 12 track collection features previously unreleased tracks, alternate versions of existing classics as well as a couple of brand new Amy compositions, and has been compiled by long-time musical partners Salaam Remi and Mark Ronson in close association with Amy’s family, management and record label Island Records. “Lioness : Hidden Treasures” proves a fitting tribute to the artist, the talent and the woman and serves as a reminder of Amy’s extraordinary powers as a songwriter, a singer and an interpreter of classics.

Our Day Will Come (Reggae Version) – reggae re-working of classic 60’s doo wop song produced by Salaam Remi. Recorded May 2002.

I absolutely love Reggae styled music and Winehouse certainly carried this song with class. It’s one of my favorite tunes that has been by some of best musicians of our time form the likes of Ruby & the Romantics and most recently Jamie Cullum. Winehouse holds her own on this version of the song.

Between The Cheats – new Amy composition recorded in London in May 2008 for potential inclusion on album three produced by Salaam Remi.

Well this was an interesting tune. It brought out a very 50s vibe and I’d describe it as old fashion in a way that has been lacking in many new pop tunes that are released today. Certainly is filled with the essence of soul in it.

Tears Dry – originally written by Amy as a ballad, this is the original version she recorded in November 2005 in Miami with Salaam. The later uptempo version  appears on “Back To Black”.

I gotta say I like this ballad version. It’s emo and depressing and gives you an insight to what she might have been feeling when she wrote it.

Wake Up Alone – the first song recorded for the “Back To Black” sessions. This is the one-take demo recorded in March 2006 by Paul O’Duffy.

Ah yes, this original one take demo shows a more intimate and vulnerable Winehouse. Just listening to it makes you think about what a rare talent she was.

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow – Amy’s beautiful reading of the Carole King written Shirelles classic. Produced by Mark Ronson and featuring the Dap Kings with string arrangements by Chris Elliott who did all the strings for Mark’s tracks on “Back To Black”. Recorded in September 2004.

I think we’ve all heard many versions of this song and would agree that the Shirelles 1960 class still reigns supreme. Winehouse certainly does justice to this song. In fact comments from all over the world have responded to this track by saying
“The world will love Amy forever”

Valerie – one of Amy’s jukebox favourites. This is the original slower tempo version of the Mark Ronson produced post “Back To Black” single. Recorded in December 2006.

I’m a huge fan of the original but this version was so refreshing. It’s got a nice tempo and brings out a nice warm feeling when you listen to it.

Like Smoke featuring NAS  – Amy and Nas became really good friends after Amy name checked the New York rapper on “Back To Black’s” “Me & Mr Jones”.  “Like Smoke” is finally Amy doing a song with one of her favourite artists. Produced by Salaam Remi. Recorded in May 2008.

Love the way the rap in fused into this track. Classic singing mashed with modern rap. Now that’s the way you do it!

The Girl From Ipanema – the first song the 18 year old Amy sang when she first went to Miami to record with Salaam. Salaam remarked that “the way she re-interpreted this bossa nova classic made me realise that I was dealing with a very special talent. Her approach to the song was so young and fresh, it really inspired the rest of our sessions.” Recorded in May 2002.

Most of you would have heard this classic tune which has been done so many ways. But the way Winehouse sang it as an 18 year old, you wouldn’t have guessed she was that young. It’s mature yet vibrant and it made me wish she had done more bossa nova jazz tunes during her time.

Halftime Amy had talked to Ahmir ‘Questlove’ Thompson of the Roots about working together. “Halftime” is a song that Amy and Salaam had worked on since the Frank sessions.  The result is beautiful. Recorded in August 2002.

Again while listening to this track that feeling of sadness comes out because it’s an emotional tune with a lot of soul from Amy as she grooves so elegantly to the backing instruments.

Best Friends – “Frank” era live set opener produced by Salaam Remi. Probably the first song that early Amy fans would have heard live. Recorded in February 2003.

I’m pretty glad this was placed after Halftime because it’s upbeat tune is needed to sort of break the momentum. Well done on track listing.

Body & Soul with Tony Bennett – cover of 30’s jazz standard with hero Tony Bennett. Recorded at Abbey Road Studios London in March 2011 and produced by Phil Ramone. Amy’s final studio recording.

They compliment each others voice and singing style so brilliantly that you get a bittersweet feeling listening to this track as the album wraps up.

A Song For You – heartbreaking and emotional version of the Leon Russell classic made famous by Donny Hathaway. Hathaway was Amy’s all-time favourite artist and the song was recorded in one take, just Amy and her guitar, at her home in London during the spring of 2009 as she battled her demons. Produced by Salaam Remi.

I felt bad by time I was done with this track and this album ultimately. I’ve never been a huge fan of Amy Winehouse but this record clearly shows how much we are missing out on now that she’s gone.

Rating: 5 out 5 stars

I rarely would give that many stars for a review but being a huge fan of Jazz, Bossa Nova and Reggae, this album had all of it and Winehouse not only pulls it off, she does it with such brilliance. It’s a clear showcase of a very naturally talented singer. Someone not manufactured, someone who belongs in the studio making music, someone who has touched so many lives……with song.

It was a thrill to record with Amy Winehouse and when you listen to the recording of Body And Soul, it is a testament to her artistic genius and her brilliance as one of the most honest musicians I have ever known.

Tony Bennett

By Elliott Danker

Lioness: Hidden Treasures is out in stores

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