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Why does it seem like all the new young singers in the tradition of classic American soul are white girls from England? First Alice Russell, and now Amy Winehouse. Actually, Winehouse is not a newcomer. Her first album, Frank (2003), went platinum in the U.K. and her latest, Back to Black, released last month, is already gold. But with her albums available only as imports in the U.S. she remains all but unknown stateside.

Salaam Remi, who produced all of Frank and half of Back in Black, is known for his work with seminal hip-hop artists like Nas and the Fugees and in the U.K. with superstar Ms. Dynamite. His style is a good match for Winehouse’s old-school attitude.

But the more vital and edgy half of the album comes from producer Mark Ronson. The son of David Bowie’s guitarist Mick Ronson and DJ to the stars (along with his sister Samantha), Ronson has developed a respectable track record as a producer, from his work with Nikka Costa to rapper Rhymefest and Christina Aguilera and now Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen. His cover version earlier this year of Radiohead’s “Just” (with Alex Greenwald) was one of the best and most acclaimed on the compilation Exit Music: Songs With Radio Heads. He follows the same production recipe on Back to Black, layering well-arranged live instruments played by members of retro-funkateers the Dap Kings and Brooklyn afrobeat orchestra Antibalas over hard-hitting backing tracks.

The overall feel of Back in Black recalls the sounds of the girl groups of the 1950s and 1960s with a clear nod to Motown icons the Supremes, vocals pitting Lauren Hill against Sarah Vaughn, and enough thump in the trunk to bang in the clubs—at least in the U.K.

Pick it up from Amazon U.K.

by DJ Scribe

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