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By Gus Bode

There’s nothing the media love more than self-destruction.

Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, Charlie Sheen: Whatever you have to say about them, the fact is you have something to say. Celebrities are constantly ridiculed in the media for their personal mishaps, until, of course, they die and are hailed as martyrs of fame. Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain and Michael Jackson fit the bill, as does the latest addition, Amy Winehouse.

Winehouse, who passed away at 27 in July, has been securitized for her public battle with drugs and alcohol. The singer cheekily pointed the spotlight on herself with her 2006 breakthrough single “Rehab,” but it became clear addition overcame the young singer during the following years.


“Lioness: Hidden Treasures” highlights the brighter moments from an artist whose personal life and professional career was surrounded by blues and heartbreak.

The majority of the tracks on “Lioness” are B-sides, covers and alternative versions of well-known Winehouse records. The compilation album contains outtakes from the singer’s 2003 studio debut “Frank,” which earned the songstress critical acclaim in her native England at the tender age of 20, to releases after “Back to Black,” the 2006 breakthrough album that shot the singer into reluctant international super-stardom.

An alternate version of the singer’s biggest single, “Tears Dry on Their Own” shows how different the original, jazz standard style recording was to the “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” baseline sampling record that showed up on “Back To Black.”

Winehouse’s reggae-tinged cover of “Our Day Will Come” is a partially sunny moment on the album. The track, like most early ‘60s doo-wop records, has been covered by many artists but is best known for the 1963 version by Ruby & the Romantics.

The acoustic version of “Back to Black’s” “Wake up Alone” is a haunting and stripped-down recording. Winehouse’s vocals are wonderfully rough and imperfect, which delivers the genuine pain of the record’s subject.

“I would die before divorce you/I’d take a thousand thumps for my love,” she sings in the opening moments of “Between the Cheats.” The track, which was written for her third record, is a pure doo-wop pastiche. The song takes a lighthearted shot at her tumultuous relationship with her husband Blake Fielder-Civil, the focus point of “Black to Back.”

“Lioness” contains two duets: the jazz standard “Body and Soul” with Tony Bennett and the pure rap record “Like Smoke,” which features Nas.


Winehouse has gone on record to say both men are among her biggest influences. Her music has always been active in merging sounds and styles, especially jazz and hip-hop. Bennett’s signature standard-style is written all over “Frank,” while “Back to Black” intertwines hip-hop beats and contains the song “Me and Mr. Jones,” a song written about Nasir “Nas” Jones.

“Why did God take the homie? I can’t stand it/I’m a firm believer that we all meet up in eternity,” Nas raps while she coos in the background over the ‘90s East Coast hip-hop beat.

“Body and Soul” was recorded just weeks before the singer’s death. Winehouse’s battle with emphysema put a stain on her vocals, which is clear here. Her voice sounds hardened and less playful than much of the record’s early recordings. It’s clear at that point Winehouse’s physical health had taken a turn alongside her mental state.

In an era of so many individuals prostituting themselves for their 15 seconds of fame, it’s sad to see an artist who wanted nothing more than to make music gone.

“Lioness” is a bit of a disappoint; only two tracks are new recordings. But, as a whole, the record paints an accurate portrait of a talented singer’s career cut too short.

Lioness: Hidden Treasures

Amy Winehouse