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Amy In The Sun: The Other (Caribbean) Side of Amy Winehouse | LargeUp


Amy Winehouse, who died Saturday at age 27, left as her musical legacy a distinctively modern take on the timeless sound of vintage soul music. Lesser known is that the troubled singer was as enamored with Caribbean music as she was with R&B. In fact, her desire to take her followup to Back to Black in a more reggae-leaning direction may have almost as much to do with said album’s failure to materialize as did her well documented drug addiction. Seemingly on the road to recovery, the singer (who had previously indicated plans to record with her friend, Damian Marley) is said to have emerged from several months in St. Lucia in 2009 with a set of dark, heavily reggae-flavored tunes. Ironically, Island Records, the label responsible for turning reggae into a global phenomenon in the 1970s, apparently rejected this material on the grounds that it departed too drastically from the successful Back to Black formula.

While these recordings remain unheard, the influence of the Caribbean can be found across Winehouse’s brief catalog. Salaam Remi, the Barbadian producer responsible for merging hip-hop with dancehall in the early 1990s, produced the majority of the tracks on her 2003 debut album, Frank, and nearly half of those on Back to Black. Mark Ronson, whose contributions to Back to Black such as “Rehab” and “You Know That I’m No Good” are Winehouse’s signature tunes, gets all of the accolades but Remi probably deserves just as much credit for her blossoming as an artist. On Frank (whose heavily bossanova-flavored “Know You Now” also featured instrumentation from Jamaican musicians, including guitarist Earl “Chinna” Smith), Remi’s gift for subtly mixing Caribbean elements into non-reggae fare can be heard on a dubby cover of “Moody’s Mood For Love”:

“Just Friends,” one of five tracks Remi produced on Back to Black and the album’s sixth and final single, was more explicit in its island-ness, supporting Winehouse’s most understated vocal performance on the album with reggae rimshots and ska-style horns:

Around the time of Back to Black, Winehouse recorded a handful of ska and early reggae covers. Originally released as B-sides to various singles from the album, these were later collected on a bonus disc included in the CD’s deluxe edition and on the limited-run, vinyl-only The Ska EP.  Among these were a version of “Monkey Man,” the 1969 Toots and the Maytals track that has been covered by everyone from The Specials to No Doubt. Performing for over 100,000 fans at England’s Glastonbury Music Festival in 2007, at the height of her popularity, Winehouse closed her set with “Monkey Man”:

Winehouse also covered the Skatalites “You’re Wondering Now” and The Specials’ “Hey Little Rich Girl” and, most interestingly, recorded a one-drop version of Sam Cooke’s “Cupid.” The track follows the template of a 1969 rocksteady version of Cooke’s classic R&B ballad by “I Can See Clearly Now” singer Johnny Nash, the first American performer to record in Jamaica. The arrangement, however, is more basic, emphasizing an astrounding vocal performance from Winehouse in which, despite their anatomical differences, she sounds eerily like Cooke, another singer who died tragically at a young age.

It’s really too early to speculate on the status of any unreleased recordings Winehouse might have made late in her life. Yet it’s hard to imagine that her dalliance with reggae in St. Lucia won’t be something worth looking forward to, should the results ever emerge.

Source: Large Up

Author: Jesse Serwer

Large Up! Mixtape Mondays: Herbert Spliffington, Jah Warrior Shelter, Itation, Straight Sound


It’s Monday again and LargeUp is back at it like a mixtape addict, with new music from Pressure Busspipe and Teflon, computer love from Herbert Spliffington and some straight juggling from Swiss soundmen Straight Sound.

Jah Warrior Shelter X Pressure Busspipe, Ever Militant: Bay Area champion sound Jah Warrior Shelter Hi-Fi (Rocker-T, Jah Yzer, I-Vier, Irie Dole) return to Mixtape Mondays in combination with Virgin Islands rising star Pressure Busspipe.  With a handful of big tunes under his belt like 2007′s massive lovers anthem Love & Affection & a recreation of The Tamlins classic “Baltimore” both with producer Don Corleon, Pressure is definitely doing something right and turning heads in the reggae community worldwide.  Jah Warrior Shelter is known for collaborating with artists and building custom mixtapes, andEver Militant delivers a  healthy selection of Pressure’s standout tunes, many of which specially manufactured for this mix.  If you’re looking for some new roots, lovers and fire in your life, look no further than Ever Militant from Pressure mixed by JWS’s DJ I-Vier. Tracklist, stream and download here.

Teflon X Itation Sound, Got To Make It Work (via 45 Shootout): Another DJ/artist combination this week, this time from Jamaican roots and dancehall artist Teflon and California/The Northeast’s Itation Sound.  Itation (Dread Lion, Tosheba, Jah Mystic, Heartical Dan, J-Trees) have been a sound system for a minute now, and have also released a slew of mixes and original riddims on their Itation Records imprint. For Got To Make It Work they join forces with Teflon to transport you to the St Mary Parish of Jamaica, the Bay Area and back again.  With 32 tracks spanning Teflon’s past present and future career, laced with dubplates and mixed by DJ Tosheba this should get you up to speed in one click.  Tracklist, stream and download here.

Herbert Spliffington, Boundless NY Heavy Computer Style Mix (via Seen): The homies at Boundless NY recently put out this mix of digital reggae classics from selector Herbert Spliffington spanning from massive 80s foundation riddims to obscure dub and deejay versions (check the Sleng Teng take on “The Message”) and the craziest selection of laser sounds we’ve heard in a while–and we hear a lot of laser sounds. In case the name seems familiar, Mr. Spliffington (<–I am going to buy a cat or hamster or something just so I can name it Mr. Spliffington -Eddie STATS) is also a prolific graphic designer who is known for putting out some of the toughest flyers and mixtape art around, as well as posting smart-ass comments on LargeUp.com. Download Side A here and the B-side version here.

Straight Sound, Summer Jugglin: In case you didn’t have enough ammo for your summer bashment barbecue, Summer Jugglin will definitely get the job done courtesy of Geneva, Switzerland’s Straight Sound.  Plenty of tunes for the Vybz Kartel fans, as well as some opinions from some of his lesser interested peers… (see Beenie’s “Cyaan Style Me” and Killa’s “No Cream To Me Face”).  Leading off with the inescapable summertime anthem from Kartel (aptly titled “Summertime“) the tone is set for a little over an hour of todays dancehall hits and riddims ready to turn your backyard into “back a yard”.  Tracklist, stream and download here.

Source: LargeUp

Author: DJ Theory and Eddie STATS Houghton