I gave in and bought the Amy Winehouse album, to see what's the big deal about her. And yeah, I'm hooked. I'm spinning it so much I've only given a cursory perusal to the new Kurt Elling record, and not even played Nick Cave's Grinderman. I tried to read Jim DeRogatis' compare/contrast last month between her and Joss Stone in the Sun-Times. But he isn't fond of either of them. At least that's the vibe I got listening to him and Kot bicker on "Sound Opinions." But, there's no comparison between the two.
Sure, they both mine the fertile ore of old soul music. But while Stone comes across as a rank imitator (when she does that "talk to the hand" thingy while she's singing, I imagine grabbing her by the wrist and smacking her with her own hand.), Winehouse is oozing soul in her voice. Sure, it's the misspent youth of your twenties, but who in their twenties didn't feel like everything was about them. Hell, I know some folks in their thirties and forties who still feel the same way.
The English have long had a better appreciation for American musical tradition than we, dating back to the Stones and Cream co-opting the blues, the Who's fascination with R&B, and later, the slick, blue-eyed soul of Simply Red's Mick Hucknall, Annie Lennox, and the acid jazz stylings of the Brand New Heavies, rooted in the soul funk of the '70's. What makes Winehouse a cut or four above Stone is her study and total assimilation of the pop girl groups of the sixties. Back to Black has a sound that reminds me simultaneously of that and Phil Spector's "wall of sound." If she does have a contemporary, it wouldn't be Stone, but Rachel Nagy of the Detroit Cobras, who has a similar love for greasy, lo-fi soul music.
The Phil Spector reference is as good a segue as I can get to sharing an old Ike and Tina Turner track that I never heard before. It's off a compilation disc I found called His Woman, Her Man. Ike and Tina will be best remembered for their volatile relationship, but their musical part of their respective legacies were created together, with tracks like the ones collected in this record. This is especially true in the case of Tina Turner, an ultimate survivor for whom all the commercial success after "What's Love Got to Do With It" just makes a well-earned victory lap after taking the best shots (figuratively and literally) from Ike. I thought about posting Ike and Tina's rendition of "Only Women Bleed" (titled "Only We Women Bleed" on His Woman, Her Man), but opted not to only because, by the time the track was cut, Tina was truly singing from the voice of experience.
Ike and Tina Turner: "