Monday 18 December 2017

Amy's standout voice, as recorded for the Beeb

Album Review: Amy Winehouse At the BBC (Island)

John Meagher

John Meagher

In her tragically short life, Amy Winehouse was a frequent visitor to the BBC's HQ and this 14-track album collects her best TV and radio recordings there between 2004 and 2009. There are also a handful of performances from festivals that were captured by the Beeb.

It may not be nearly as essential as last winter's Lioness: Hidden Treasures – which unearthed a previously unreleased song and offered a fistful of alternate takes – but At the BBC offers further proof that Winehouse was a wonderfully potent vocalist who was streets ahead of most of her peers when she put her mind to it.

That's certainly the case on the gorgeous, eerie You Know I'm No Good, and on the intimate To Know Him is to Love Him, The Teddy Bears' song that would prove to be a key touchstone for her Back to Black album.

And there's an arresting take on Love is a Losing Game from 2009 – just two years before her premature death at the age of 27.

Her voice is frail and spectral, and it's hard to know if that's down to poor health or simply the style of delivery she chose to do that day.

Despite these high points, At the BBC is a decidedly uneven affair. While few could dispute the power of her voice and her ability to imbue her material with very real emotions, the quality control is all over the place – and not just in her final years when she battled all manner of demons.

A DVD accompanies the album and its high point is a one-hour documentary filmed at Other Voices in 2006 and featuring her legendarily stripped back performance at St James's Church, Dingle.

KEY TRACKS Love is a Losing Game; To Know Him is to Love Him

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