When news of Amy Winehouse's sad death filtered through, it came as a shock. Many would argue it was an accident waiting to happen, that they had been expecting it, a result of her wild lifestyle. Still, she had existed with drink and drug problems for so long, and it seemed she almost had an angel looking out for her, much like a female Keith Richards.
Amy's major label career began with the release of her critically acclaimed debut album ‘Frank’. Nominated for the Mercury Prize, the album's soft jazz stylings were well received, and she would go on to win an Ivor Novello award for the song ‘Stronger than Me’. However, it was with the release of Back to Black that she took the world by storm. Shifting millions of copies, it propelled her into the limelight, a position she continued to hold due not only to her voice and songwriting skills but also because of her tumultuous personal life.
Her music was different. At a time when popular music was so heavily manufactured she seemed like a breath of fresh air. The horns blared out direct references to Motown and soul records from a bygone time. Her voice howled songs of pain and misery, but with a sensitivity that anyone could relate to. Her brash personality, and outlandish sense of style, were only a facade for a delicate and caring soul. There is no doubt that her death has guaranteed her immortality, with her albums selling heavily and tributes and eulogies pouring in remembering her.
Once she had gone, though, it was merely a matter of time before talk of a posthumous album being released was bandied about. Sure enough, ‘Lioness: Hidden Treasures’ will be released on December 5th, just in time for the Christmas sales. Whilst there may be some artistic merits in the album, the release smacks of a cynical money spinning ploy by her record label.
Posthumous albums are a curse for the music fan. There is that small glimmer of hope that they may contain an unreleased gem, a 'Sitting on the Dock of the Bay', for instance. But, for every 'Ghetto Gospel', there are hundreds of songs that didn't see the light of day for good reasons. The allure of that final album will nearly always be too strong, and the record labels can rub their hands together, knowing they've squeezed one last payday out of an artist, without caring about their besmirched reputation.
Sadly, there are too many people to profit from Amy Winehouse's death to leave her legacy untouched. Perhaps though, it is the ultimate testament to her genius that so many people feel so attached to her music, that they are so willing to buy anything released with her name attached to it.