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.
on 11 May 2005
Frank is a wonderful debut album. It is a jazz album with edge both musically and lyrically: a welcome and much needed reminder that jazz does not need to be bland, it is fantastic on every level.
The music is primarily soul inflected jazz but also drawing on a host of other influences including funk and even blues. The musical arrangements are quite simple and sparse but atmospheric and effective. Amy Winehouse has a strong, husky voice which brings the songs to life and is able to convey feeling and strong emotion.
The songs chart the course of a failed relationship with a few other barbs thrown in for good measure. The lyrics, mainly written by Amy Winehouse herself, are personal, scabrous and occasionally very funny. The material has a refreshing emotional honesty spiced with arrogance, bile and spite but, fortunately, lacking in sentimentality or self-pity. The album is packed with great songs including the excellent 'Stronger than me' is a lament about the weakness of her over educated new man boyfriend; 'I Heard Love Is Blind' a confession/justification for her infidelity ('he looked liked you', 'I was thinking of you', 'it couldn't tell, it was dark and I was lying down'), 'F**k me Pumps', an attack on shallow party girls ('At least your breasts cost more than hers') amongst others.
Amy Winehouse has gained some notoriety through some entertaining, if loud mouthed, TV appearances (most notably on Never Mind the Buzzcocks) and some negative press coverage for her unladylike behaviour. She may not be the most appealing person in the world and clearly being her boyfriend carries some risks (unless you like being pilloried in song). However, this does not change the fact that she is a fantastic singer/songwriter. She is often bracketed with the other 'new' British Jazz 'sensations': Joss Stone, Katie Melua & Jamie Cullum. I guess that this is because they are all relatively recent arrivals on the music scene and they have all been labelled jazz singers. This is not a particularly sensible or useful classification - Amy Winehouse has passion and edge - this is a much more interesting album than anything the other three have produced (or are likely to produce).
Amy Winehouse apparently believes that no men bought her album. Sorry to disappoint her but at least one did and he loves it.
on 5 May 2004
I bought this CD on a whim without properly hearing any of the songs on it, and to my suprise it has turned out to be one of the best (if not THE best) albums I own. Amy Winehouse is an amazing new talent and it is unbelievable that at the age of just 19 she has produced such a fine collection of songs. Her voice is incredible, especially on tracks such as Stronger Than Me (the album's standout), You Sent Me Flying and Take The Box.
Other strong tracks include the witty F**k Me Pumps, which attacks those vacuous party girls who are famous for being famous ("Every week it gets worse/With your big empty purse/ At least your breasts cost more than hers" - miaow!); I Heard Love Is Blind, where she sings a hilarious confession of infidelity; and the simply beautiful (There Is) No Greater Love. Know You Now is the only song that I really don't like, probably because it seems a little bland compared to the others, but the rest of the album is fantastic and definitely benefits from repeat listenings.
I'd wholeheartedly recommend this album to anyone who appreciates soul/jazz, or fans of mainstream rnb who are looking for something a bit different. Amy Winehouse is a welcome antidote to all the manufactured pop 'music' that has invaded the airwaves thanks to the likes of Simon Cowell, and although she has been critically acclaimed and nominated at the Brit Awards, it seems a shame to me that she hasn't recieved more attention and airplay as she truly deserves it.
on 25 July 2011
When Frank debuted in 2003, I was shocked, in a nice way. There was, and still is, so much mediocrity in the music world, with 'artists' pandering to their record company's whims, mostly due to lack of talent. Amy Winehouse, however, did not give a care about contemporary music; with her beautiful jazzy, soulful voice she was able to create music that stood out from the crowd, a homage to honest music, sung with sincerity, and played from the heart. On first listen you may think, it's OK, but persevere, and the songs synchronise themselves with your soul. Some may find some of the songs complex, but they're the ones you will never tire of, and sadly, we'll never get hear this angel's voice again. Dare I say it, but I enjoyed this album more so than Back To Black, which, in its own right is a great record. Just buy this album - YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.
Like most people (I guess) I bought this album after the more recent Back to Black. Some say it's better, some say not as good. I can't quite decide either way, which should tell you one thing: it's excellent. The simple advice is that if you enjoyed B2B you'll enjoy this just as much. Don't hesitate. In some ways it's more honest, even though I'm not sure what I mean by that! AFAIK Frank was Amy Winehouse's first album, and as a result presumably a lot of people, myself included, missed it completely. Unfortunately all of the high-profile publicity about her private life has drawn attention from a vastly wider audience than might otherwise have been the case, but surely there's no denying that, before the downhill slide, she had genuine talent and she's not just a top-class singer but a great songwriter too - she was at least partly responsible for writing most of the songs here.
One niggle though. Why is it a good idea to make songs sound as if you're listening to a scratchy vinyl record? It's evident on four tracks: Stronger Than Me, Cherry, There Is No Greater Love, and parts of the 13-minute final track Amy Amy Amy. I had the same complaint with an Alicia Keys album, and there are many others. It's distracting and it just makes the whole listening experience less satisfying. What on earth is the point? I wish this 'fashion' would stop.
on 8 September 2004
I first saw Amy on MTV in the video for "In my bed", thought it was pretty good and remember wanting to hear it again so being a true r'n'b lover thought i may as well buy it. Its fantastic, truly an album which has zero skippable tracks. Not one. Its even got a couple of bonus tracks hidden at the end which are also fantasic...saw Amy live at Penshurst Place in Kent and she included both in her set. If u like decent r and b music with proper head bobbin' beats mixed with smooth downtempo tunes then u really cannot go wrong. The only bad thing about Amy is what she has been saying to the press of late, slating other successful artists. Its a shame if she is, cos she should let her music speak for itself...
on 17 July 2007
I got Back to Black after Amy was on the cover of Rolling Stone, and loved it immediately. I neither drink nor drug, but I find myself singing "Rehab" while rinsing the dinner dishes. We're still waiting for the "official" release of Frank here in the US of A, but I managed to get my hands on it. How is it that a girl so young can dish out two albums this good? In its own way, Frank is every bit as wonderful as Back to Black. There isn't a bad track here (though I think there should be a moratoriam on "Moody's Mood for Love" -- enough, already). Odd that she'd plant "hidden tracks" in the middle of an album, but she's obviously not your run-of-the-mill girl, is she? My favorite cut? Well, I change my mind every few hours -- right now it's "Amy, Amy, Amy" which is currently playing in my head ...
on 13 November 2008
I've been a Amy fan since the start, so maybe i'm a bit biased when I say I prefer her debut album to her current one (which is still very good) but I always find myself listening to this album over her current one. I just think it's a bit more raw and authentic (and therefore maybe won't appeal to mainstream music fans as much?) and it really comes through on the album..defo a more jazzy vibe but I love it and it suits her vocals really well :) I did buy her new album which i also think it's brilliant but this is still my personal preference!
on 26 July 2011
Most people are only aware of Amy's "Back to Black" album, for a real treat, pick up her first album "Frank" I heard the track "Take the box" and I was hooked. The voice, lyrics, and the music, absolutely brilliant! At the time there weren't any new artists making an impact like Amy (apart from Estelle) Every track is different but enjoyable, the songs tell a story, even the bleakest lyrics make great songs. The wonderful thing about this album is that it appeals to the widest group I know. My mum loves her music as it has hints of the Soul era, reminiscent of Etta, and Sarah Vaughan, I love it for the soul, strong raw jazz feel, and my 11 tear-old nephew loves it for its different sound, not "poppy" not a clone, just pure bold, raw talent - we all agree. I guarantee you'll enjoy this album, it is different from her latest album but just as good. The fact she wrote and arranged most of the tracks is a bonus for lovers of real music.
on 27 August 2004
I was intrigued by the reviews that i read for this album and I wanted to hear it.
I usually buy a few new CDs every week so I can take risks, my collection of once only plays is slowly growing.
It is a good late night, bottle of wine listen, with traditional jazz structures underpinned by Amy's fruity vocals.
The songs are quite edgy with room for development, I believe that this is only her first album?
I especially liked her sexy interpretation of Grover Washington Jnr's jazz funk classic Mr. Magic.
Although it is unfortunate that this album will be best remembered for the sleazy 'it girl' baiting F**k Me Pumps.
Especially now an inoffensive version has recently been released as a single.
I am sure that a certain Mr.Costello would be interested in collaboration, and knowing his reputation possibly more!