Amy Winehouse - Valerie
From the album Back To Black (w/ German Bonus Songs) (2007)
Late, late last night - well after 2 am - I found myself walking through deserted city streets in the crisp autumnal air, enjoying the walk, the solitude, and the soundtrack (thank you, classic iPod!). Sometimes, in the midst of hectic work periods, packed social calendars, and being overextended on numerous fronts, it’s good to steal away for a little alone time, gather my thoughts, and just recharge the batteries. Of course, maybe going for post-midnight walks in the nippy air with music blaring is one of the odder ways of doing it, but let’s not quibble.
One of the tracks that came on was one I hadn’t heard in awhile, but have always loved: Amy Winehouse's mellow, jazzy cover of the Zutons' Valerie. Not the version that Winehouse had sung on Mark Ronson’s Version album, which was recorded in the Phil Spectorized 60s girl group style that won her raves for the Back To Black album, but a mellower, funkier, more relaxed version that came to me via a bootleg called Soul of Unplugged and Electrified. It contains a performance Winehouse gave in Berlin in January 2007, and the whole feel of the song is just loose and melodic, the backing band is casual but solid, Winehouse’s voice is sultry and in control, and the sound is crisp and immediate. It was clearly recorded onto a soundboard, either professionally or by some amazing bootleggers. Whatever the case, this track is one of the great arguments that, as tragic and as short as Winehouse’s life was, it should never overshadow her gifts, and the wonderful music she was capable of presenting.