Amy Winehouse: 10 Great Unreleased Songs - Rolling Stone
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Amy Winehouse: 10 Great Unreleased Songs

From ‘Frank’ outtakes to a soulful Beatles cover, hear are some of the late star’s most compelling rarities

Amy Winehouse was a maelstrom of talent and trouble. She lived with a brash, unapologetic flair that earned her headlines, but the flashes of vulnerability in her music made her work truly timeless. Her 2011 death at age 27 has already taken on the quality of a tragic myth.

Winehouse’s immense musical legacy rests on just two albums issued during her lifetime, in addition to a handful of B sides, live recordings and guest vocal spots. Following the release of the posthumous rarities compilation Lioness: Hidden Treasures, label executives claimed the vaults were empty – having destroyed any further demos for her incomplete third record of original material. Despite this, a number of high-quality tracks have surfaced on bootlegs and online over the years, lovingly shared by fans desperate for the album that never was. In advance of the fifth anniversary of Winehouse’s passing, take a listen to a career-spanning selection of the singer’s unreleased gems.

Amy Winehouse, 10, Stunning, Unreleased, Songs

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“Detachment”

Dripping with defiance, "Detachment" depicts a woman speeding away from the relationship she just torched. Recorded in 2006 during sessions for Black to Black, the lyrics allude to Winehouse’s affair with Fielder-Civil’s friend in an effort to make a clean break from their dysfunctional relationship. She was successful – for a time. The track is a missing piece of the album's narrative and adds further dimension to their doomed love story.

"All the songs are about the state of my relationship at the time with Blake," Winehouse said of the record in 2007. "I had never felt the way I feel about him about anyone in my life. It was very cathartic, because I felt terrible about the way we treated each other." Ironically, Back to Black’s success helped reunite the pair, who married in 2007.

A snippet of the song can be heard in Asif Kapadia’s 2015 documentary Amy, but the complete version remains in the vaults. 

Amy Winehouse, 10, Stunning, Unreleased, Songs

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“Jazz n’ Blues”

Also known as "Money (No More Jazz n' Blues)," this slow jam is quite possibly the oldest known Winehouse song to surface. It reportedly dates back to her 2001 writing collaboration with Edward Bigham, two years before the release of Frank. With sparse instrumental backing, it sounds more like a sketch than a fully realized recording as she sings about her desire to "throw my cash away" and "blow it all on bags and shoes" – a topic she would revisit on "Trilby." Her vocal delivery lacks the unique phrasing and power of her future work, but the track is a fascinating look at a diva developing her style. As the title suggests, two of her favorite genres are dominant even at this early stage.  

Amy Winehouse, 10, Stunning, Unreleased, Songs

Retna/Photoshot

“Beat the Point to Death”

Though destined to earn worldwide acclaim as an R&B singer, Winehouse’s earliest experience in the recording studio occurred in the mid-Nineties as part of Sweet 'n' Sour, a hip-hop duo with her friend Juliette Ashby. The pair formed the group when they were just 10 years old, writing melodies and lyrics themselves. They later recorded three original titles: "Glam Chicks," "Spinderella" (named for Salt-N-Pepa's DJ) and "Boys … Who Needs Them."

"Sweet 'n' Sour is nice because it's them doing their version of Salt-N-Pepa," says Amy director Kapadia, who had the opportunity to hear some of the tapes. "Amy's obviously Sour [laughs], but they take it really seriously. … When they played me the music, I was waiting for them to break up in giggles, but they don't. This is the real deal, and they were quite serious."

Considering her future lyrical themes, "Boys … Who Needs Them" is particularly charming. "Boys, leave us alone/There's no one home," Winehouse and Ashby sing on the two-and-a-half-minute track. "They'll treat you like a dog, push you around." Unfortunately, Kapadia was unable to secure the rights include the song in his documentary and all three Sweet 'n' Sour titles remain unheard. The closest Winehouse came to revisiting this early musical vision was arguably "Beat the Point to Death," a Nineties-tinged R&B number that owes a noticeable debt to Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill. It too remains unreleased. 

Amy Winehouse, 10, Stunning, Unreleased, Songs

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“All My Loving”

The posthumous Amy Winehouse at the BBC LP showcased some of the high-quality sessions she recorded for television and radio specials, but many of her imaginative cover versions remain unreleased. These range from American songbook standards like "Sentimental Journey," the blues bedrock of "Ain’t Nobody's Business" taken from the 2004 Billie Holiday tribute Billie & Me, and more contemporary covers of Lauryn Hill, Michael Jackson and Marvin Gaye. One of the best is this soulful acoustic take on the Beatles barnstormer, recorded for the Glastonbury Calling TV documentary in 2004. 

Amy Winehouse, 10, Stunning, Unreleased, Songs

Retna/Photoshot

“You Always Hurt the Ones You Love”

By early 2011, Winehouse’s life had stabilized enough that she could resume work on her long-awaited third album. For production duties she tapped Mark Ronson and Salaam Remi, who had also overseen sessions for Back to Black. “She probably finished the writing process a few weeks before she passed,” recalled Remi. “As far as I could see, we had 14 songs. Whatever needed to happen, it was right there.” Likely to be included in this batch of songs was the mournful “You Always Hurt the One You Love.” A full performance of this song, if it exists, has yet to surface, but the Amy documentary features a moving scene in which Winehouse recites the lyrics to this bruising critique of her own relationship failures. 

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