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Re: Amy

PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2015 4:15 pm
by AndyM
When someone of Amy's talents appears, genre boundaries look pretty paltry.

Re: Amy

PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2015 4:41 pm
by alister prince
I've not seen the Amy movie and strongly doubt I will, unless it's televised at some point. There are a number of reasons, including the fact I was never a fan during her lifetime, (it's not that I disliked her, I just never engaged with her music). I found and still do, the media interest in her numerous meltdowns more than prurient and there's a bit of me that thinks to suddenly want to know the 'inside story' or 'who is to blame', would be little better. I'm talking about myself here , nobody else, so please don't think I'm accusing anyone. My 45 years in social work haven't helped; I've spent a lifetime seeing people in distress and simply don't need to add to it. On to Whitney, Amy and R&B, Garth says he's looking for a response so here's mine. I always thought of Whitney as a very talented pop singer. Nothing wrong with that, just not R&B. She comes from a family of some of the great women gospel and R&B singers and I wonder if she didn't have that background would the question be asked? I wasn't interested in most of her music, yes she made the occasional track I thought was pretty good, but so do lots of performers I'm not generally grabbed by. She was in her earlier career, very well packaged - voice, looks, clothes, demeanour, but the commerciality wasn't the point, it was her pop sensibility. Top marks for that. Amy had a very good voice, but again few of her recordings really grabbed my attention. Her inflections seemed more jazzy than R&B to me and she seemed to occupy that musical landscape which appeals to 'sophisticated' pop fans. I suspect that had she lived and not ruined her voice she would have developed that jazzy/standard singing style we were beginning to see with her work with Tony Bennet (a bit like Natalie Cole perhaps). So in summary, neither was an R&B singer, both had very good voices, and it's bloody tragic both died before their time.
Aly
PS trying to define genres such as R&B is almost impossible, you just 'know it' when you see it. Look at the debates as to 'what is world music'!! Yup pigeon-holing can be paltry, but hey we all do it to a greater or lesser extent, and trying to discuss where a style of music sits for us ain't so bad. It's more of a problem when someone condems something simply because it doesn't fit their stereotype.

Re: Amy

PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2015 5:01 pm
by Adam Blake
I saw Whitney Houston in her heyday in 1988 at the Birmingham NEC (another Music Week assignment). She was brilliant but the music was mostly dull 80s pop - as you would expect - but then, in the middle of the set, she did a Gospel medley which was absolutely riveting. Then she did "Natural Woman", as a tribute to Aretha, and that was just fabulous.

Re: Amy

PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2015 5:15 pm
by alister prince
Sad that side of her was never to the fore.

Re: Amy

PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2015 8:57 pm
by Rob Hall
alister prince wrote:I've not seen the Amy movie and strongly doubt I will ... I suspect that had she lived and not ruined her voice she would have developed that jazzy/standard singing style we were beginning to see with her work with Tony Bennet (a bit like Natalie Cole perhaps).

At one point in the film ?uestlove tells of Amy's ambition to form a supergroup with himself, Yasiin Beye (formerly Mos Def), and Raphael Saadiq. That really would have been something.

Re: Amy

PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2015 9:34 pm
by Hugh Weldon
Aly

I suspect that had she lived and not ruined her voice she would have developed that jazzy/standard singing style we were beginning to see with her work with Tony Bennet


She did not 'ruin her voice' - the Bennett duet was only 4 months before she died, and she sounds pretty ok to me - one of the sad things about the film. The jazz thing was always there, in fact one of my favourite performances is this version of 'Teach Me Tonight' - from 2004.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5B2Vk2_XTY

Re: Amy

PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2015 10:24 pm
by alister prince
Just to clarify, I meant if her voice did not become ruined; not that she had ruined it. The Bennett tapes indicated just what a good voice she still had.
Aly

Re: Amy

PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2015 12:55 am
by Hugh Weldon
Thanks for clarification Aly, sorry if I misread you.

Re: Amy

PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2015 6:08 pm
by NormanD
I feel able to make some contribution now, as I've just come back from an afternoon performance.

As a film, it's very well put together and keeps the viewer engaged with its flow, general avoidance of talking heads, and good use of performance material. It's one of the best music biopics I've seen in a long time, and it deserves the critical praise it's receiving.

I came away feeling saddened by the whole story, especially the last half hour which was, obviously, about her final decline. There were quite a few unanswered questions: How did she get so good, so young? When did she learn jazz guitar? Why did she get those shitty tattoos done? Why was she often wearing a Star of David necklace in her latter days?

The comparisons being made between Amy and other Afro-American singers - and the relative states of their lives - doesn't especially interest me. The film was simply about her, and was not intended to prove any musical points beyond that. Aimy was what she saw herself as - a jazz singer.

On a final note: is it just me or did anyone else feel like giving Blake Fielder-Civil a kick up the arse?

Re: Amy

PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2015 9:23 pm
by Adam Blake
NormanD wrote:On a final note: is it just me or did anyone else feel like giving Blake Fielder-Civil a kick up the arse?



No, of course not. I kept thinking "you cunt" whenever he came onscreen (apologies if my language offends). But really, what a damaged soul. He couldn't help himself, could he? JUST the kind of guy every dad dreads his daughter ever crossing paths with. I thought that Amy had a fatal attraction for weak men - like her father - and really, you couldn't get much weaker than that sad little bastard.

Re: Amy

PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2015 9:31 pm
by NormanD
Adam Blake wrote:I thought that Amy had a fatal attraction for weak men - like her father - and really, you couldn't get much weaker than that sad little bastard (Blake Fielder-Civil).
And as Amy herself sang in "What It Is About Men"

Understand once he was a family man
So surely I would never, ever go through it first hand
Emulate all the shit my mother hated
I can't help but demonstrate my Freudian fate


She certainly had a sharp level of self awareness for what she saw herself going through.

Re: Amy

PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2015 10:32 pm
by Adam Blake
NormanD wrote:She certainly had a sharp level of self awareness for what she saw herself going through.


She was smart and funny. A thoroughly exceptional person.

Re: Amy

PostPosted: Sun Aug 02, 2015 10:00 pm
by Garth Cartwright
I went to see it as a break from Brixton Splash festival. It's not often that I so strongly disagree with everyone else posting here but this film is awful. At 2 hours it is unbearably long - I sat there thinking "cut, cut, cut" as we sat thru more home video of Amy horsing around or photos of her and Blake or mates - and as a journalist who followed Amy's story from Frank to the end I kept seeing holes everywhere.This is a sloppy, dishonest production - its produced by Island-Universal to keep the product shifting so I didn't expect a critique but considering the hype surrounding this movie I expected a little more insight. I even sympathised with her dad - he's not very bright and did some stupid shit like bringing a TV crew to St Lucia but to portray him as the villain when Amy made every wrong choice possible - this was after all a young adult, not a child, who had everything on a platter from the age of 16 (a £250,000 publishing advance from Sony). And from then on she constantly behaved like a spoilt brat.

First thing missing: no mention of the 2 stage schools she attended. She wanted to be an entertainer from an early age and had a good voice. Getting signed by the Spice Girls manager while still in stage school means she knew she was entering the major league. All this nonsense about wanting to be a jazz singer: she may have loved jazz but those schools prepare you for mainstream pop. If she'd been serious about jazz she would have worked the small clubs, learned her craft, instead of instantly making a big pop record. Listen to her murder standards on The Lioness album and then tell me she was a jazz singer! And her debut, the Frank album, is awful. The musicians playing on it are superb but she sings in such a mannered way and the songs are weak. While Fuck Me Pumps is juvenile, sub-Lily Allen bilge. If sung by a man it would be derided as misogynist bile.

Then there's Back To Black and she's got a whole new image and sound. Producer Mark Ronson is barely quoted while The Daptones and Daptone studio do not even get a mention. And when you are on this level in the music industry ie millions of pounds have been invested in you then you don't just do what you feel like. That ended with Metal Machine Music. Who created the Ronnie Spector meets Toots image? Who decided on adopting the retro soul sound? Record companies spend a lot of money in these areas and after Frank failed to catch fire Island and Sony had to choose between writing off their investment - and this does happen, artists dropped after millions of pounds spent - or reinventing them to try and further their appeal. A friend who was once head buyer for HMV told me when Frank came out Universal made it their priority push. It stiffed. So when BIB came out they did the same thing again with even greater rigour - but the film never mentions this. It never mentions what her Island advance was but I'm guessing at least half a million. I know, showing how the music industry works is like showing the wizard of oz was really a little man behind a curtain but this film promotes the myth that it was Amy's pure and natural talent that made her a star rather than the same concentrated push that made everyone from Milli Vanilli to Adele stars - they both picked up Grammies too so all this hoopla about how wonderful it is for Amy to get a Grammy: they exist for the industry to congratulate those who make them the most money.

The music? BTB is pleasant retro pop soul. I have it on the iPod. She's found her voice and the songwriting is improving - You Know I'm No Good and Back In Black are pretty good. But not as good as the retro soul albums made by Shelby Lynn and many others. And incomparable to Etta or Irma or Aretha or any actual soul singer. But none of them had the hype and money behind them that Amy did. And what did she do? She blew it. Like her dad she wasn't very bright so it's idiot boyfriends and stupid management changes and lots of bad behaviour for the tabloids: she was as addicted to being in the public eye as she was to drugs and alcohol and cultivated the paps, even making them mugs of tea to ensure they kept hanging about. And this film continues on to the miserable end, oddly not mentioning the huge falsies she got when she was free of Blake. Nor doing drugs with Pete Doherty in public in Camden. No quote from R Brand either on trying to help her - and he has been very articulate on this. So much is missing as far as the public jigsaw that was her life. Not even a mention of shifting from the Camden flat to Camden mansion. Very poor.

Oddly, years ago BBC4 had a doc on Dinah Washington and Amy spoke well about Dinah on it. But not a sample of that to show how she thought as a singer. There were a bunch of Amy TV docs while she was alive - one by Jacques Perretti was very tabloid "the tragedy of Amy & Blake" (made and shown while Blake was in jail) but it did feature one of her friends in it saying theirs was a relationship of equals, she was not controlled by him as some evil swengali. She just liked posh wide boys. And no mention of how after they first split and she wrote the tunes for BIB he was back as her No 1. Who initiated this? Why did she agree when he had left her and she'd fucked his best friend to make sure he knew it was over? To avoid this is inexcusable - seeing he is the person most often blamed for her fall.

Amy had talent and could give good interview but she was immature in both her talent and behaviour. And the Tony Bennett quote at the end about her being the equal to Billie and Ella - what a buncha bullshit. A stupid film about a silly, spoilt young woman. I'm amazed y'all fell for this!

Re: Amy

PostPosted: Sun Aug 02, 2015 10:29 pm
by Adam Blake
Oh come on, Garth. Do you think I don't know how the music business works? The film is interesting, and moving, for what it reveals and conceals about a very specific human tragedy. If you can't see that, I suggest you should have been paying more attention to the human natures on display and concerning yourself less with your sense of outrage at the perceived lack of veracity.

Re: Amy

PostPosted: Mon Aug 03, 2015 11:55 pm
by Garth Cartwright
I rarely think of you as pompous Adam but your statement sounds like something a pontificating professor might tell the plebs when discussing Hamlet. And you may know how the music industry works but most don't and your posts on this film never touch upon it. Anyway, I didn't see a film about a human tragedy - wasted lives make for waste, not tragedy - there's plenty of tragedy around us but stupid, wealthy youths destroying themselves via heroin chic is not something to shed tears over.

The Amy film is a no brainer, it plays on the tabloid myth of "poor girl, bad dad, bad Blake". If the director had had the courage to make a film about how fame and wealth are handled by those who win them young then it might have been a movie of some resonance. But as with his Senna film its hagiography.

And way too long and very boring.