Sun, 09 Sep 2007

Amy Winehouse

We came late to the stunning voice of Amy Winehouse, who has been around for several years. But we bought Amy's first album Frank as a Christmas present for ourselves late last year, and loved her sound the moment we first heard it. So when we saw the second album Back to Black was in the chart section of our local supermarket we seized on it with glad cries and carried it home to listen to.

Back to Black is an excellently bouncy album whose fun and rhythm just lifts you along. In the week we have owned it it scores an amazing Amarok rating: 5.0 Favourite, 5 listens. And I might have continued thinking of Back to Black as a dryly ironic window by an adult 24-year old woman into a theoretical life, were it not for the extraordinary actions of Amy's father concerning this album.

Yes, as Britain begins the 21st Century, a gentleman apparently attempted Victorian style censorship on this music by means of crude pseudo-moralistic economic pressure. As far as I am concerned Amy writes with humour and realism about what may have been, but probably wasn't, a life threatening episode in her life with drug use. As an adult Amy is surely qualified to decide for herself. Regular readers will know that I believe history shows that attempts to ban any substance will always cause more harm than would regulation and regulated availability of that same substance. And as for censoring the freedom to discuss such bans, words fail me.

I myself was told some years ago that I should "responsibly" censor my thoughts and writings so as not to offend the sensibilities of those who hadn't thought so deeply about the facts of Prohibition. This further apparent attempt to censor and ban both Amy's thoughts and feelings and my own, via calls for a boycott of this album, made me so angry that I went out and bought a second copy of Back to Black — and gave it to a DJ friend with instructions he play it during his sets :-) He seemed very pleased !

It would be presumptuous of me to call that Back to Black should be adopted as the protest album of the 21st Century, a call in favour of social reform and against the failed 20th-century authoritarian policies of the Bush/Blair Politics of Compulsion. But I'm going to ask you all to do something for me. When you go and buy Back to Black for yourself, buy two copies - and give one away to the first person you meet on the street.

Play it loud, sistah.