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Deluxe Edition only worth it for diehard fans
on 13 May 2008
Plenty of others have written helpful summaries of the original album 'Frank', so my contribution is to provide a review of the new 'Super Deluxe Edition', packaged as a box set with a new 17-track bonus disc of 'previously unreleased radio sessions, rare demos and mixes'. This new edition is no doubt aimed mainly at dedicated fans, who will already own the album itself; the problem is that dedicated fans will also already own most of the 'rare' songs included here.
Of the tracks featured on the bonus disc, only a handful are genuinely 'new', and all but one have been heard before in some form. Admittedly, that one unheard song - a cover of the Gershwin classic 'Someone to Watch Over Me' - is absolutely gorgeous, truly sounding like it could be a lost 1930s jazz club recording. The other demos are interesting to hear, and act as a timely reminder of how incredible Winehouse's vocal talent actually is. However, the remainder of the material isn't quite as exciting. 'What It Is' is described here as an 'original demo', but as far as I can tell, it's identical to the version used as a B-side on the single 'Stronger Than Me'. The remixes have all been featured on past singles, and I'm baffled as to why two mediocre B-sides have been included while the beautiful acoustic number 'Best Friends' - a fan favourite, and surely her best ever B-side - has been left out. The live tracks and radio sessions are nice, but even for hardcore fans, they're significantly less than thrilling.
It's hard not to feel that, in the absence of any new material from the troubled singer, this collection has been hastily cobbled together to capitalise on the success of 'Back to Black', not to mention Winehouse's continued tabloid notoriety. If you're a huge fan, you're bound to want this new edition anyway, out of curiosity or completism; but if you're a newcomer to Amy's music, my advice is to buy 'Back to Black' (undoubtedly her greatest work and a true modern classic) and then the original, one-disc version of 'Frank' - you can pick up both on Amazon for less than this box set costs.