This is BBC Radio 6 Music Live

That almighty bastion of British radio that champions the new and interesting, Radio 6 released a ‘Music Live’ double-CD compilation to celebrate ten years of live music at the station yesterday. I was planning on doing a quick review over the weekend but as the last four days have been sent from hell I’ve only managed to muster some energy to fully enjoy this now.

You just can’t beat a great band singing a classic song in somewhere as intimate as a radio booth. There’s entries on this compilation from established greats such as Elbow, Amy Winehouse, Beck, Goldfrapp, Friendly FiresGroove Armada and Manic Street Preachers. But there’s also an equally impressive selection of fresh new talent coming from the likes of Lana Del Rey, Foster The People, First Aid Kit and Michael Kiwanuka.

Overall the compilation blends effortlessly, and would have been ideal garden-listening had the weather been good. Highlights are of course Amy Winehouse’s live rendition of ‘Stronger Than Me’ and Friendly Fires’ ‘Paris’- two gorgeous songs that really stand their own in an intimate setting. Check out the album right here!

First Listen: Tyler James ‘Single Tear’

I was a massive fan of Tyler James upon his debut back in 2004. Sadly, I was one of a minority and shortly after his debut album ‘Unlikely Lad’ (which featured Amy Winehouse pre- Back to Black era), the chap disappeared.

Fast forward to 2012 and he comes back to the public eye as a contestant on The Voice UK. He didn’t win, but in a strange way it seemed like a blessing- the girl who did hardly made any impact.

Still, Tyler got re-signed, and this is his born-again debut. I wasn’t expecting much if truth be told, but I’ve fallen back in love with that voice within seconds. The song’s huge- I really hope he takes off and gets the recognition he deserves.

Live: Bo Saris at Proud Camden

I managed to catch a short set by Bo Saris last night at Proud Camden in London. There’s a lot of Amy Winehouse in his sound, which is a only a good thing in my books. Looking forward to hearing more from this guy. If you get a chance to see him live you have to go!

It’s been one year…

… since the beautifully talented Ms Winehouse left us. Sometimes it’s still hard to believe. RIP Amy.

Nas + Amy Winehouse

Nas is back with a new record that has this track featuring the late Amy Winehouse. Reminiscent of ‘Like Smoke‘, which was included in Winehouse’s posthumous album. Miss you Amy.

New Music: Bearcat

Probably track of the week- this is Bearcat and she makes some really good soul. It made me sad a little though, as it sent me back to memories of hearing Amy Winehouse for the first times. Anyway, check her out. Please. She’s great. Check out here.

2011’s Random List

So everyone’s doing their lists for 2011. They’re fun to read but a nightmare to compile, so I thought I’d shake it up a bit with my list by using some really rather pointless categories.

2011’s Most Painfully Cool

Woodkid – This is one of those ‘hidden loves’ I have who I don’t really blog about because I want to enjoy for myself. Kinda selfish it sounds but it’s only because if I do blog about them I just won’t stop… Friendly Fires being an example. Anyway, anything Woodkid touches turns to gold.

2011’s Best Second Album

Friendly Fires – Pala. Second albums are so hard to get right but Friendly Fires had no trouble coming back with a piece of genius.

2011’s Best Album To Fall In Love To

Patrick Wolf – Lupercalia. Patrick Wolf has one of the most devoted set of followers for any musician that I know in the UK. I have a few records of his, but this is by far the standout album that he’s produced to date. Just because the story behind it is so simple- he fell in love. And the songs that feature are a pure joy to listen to.

2011’s Most Underrated Album

Alex Clare – Lateness Of The Hour. Produced by Diplo and mixing some really heart-stopping beats with a raw voice and big lyrics, it’s just stunning from start to finish. I really hope it picks up in 2012 because this record is just too good to not be heard.

2011’s Most Bittersweet Album

Amy Winehouse – Lionness. You may know that I am a huge fan of the late Winehouse. So when this was released last month I was stunned at how some of the songs which had already been released sounded so different when arranged the way Winehouse actually wanted. It’s a beautiful record, but I really hope her estate releases more.

2011’s Most Addictive Track

M83 – Midnight City. This track makes you feel like a kid running around in the dark pretending to be a space hero or something. It’s amazing.

2011’s Biggest Pisstake

Ed Sheeran – ‘+’. I know people love this kid to bits, but I physically wanted to snap his album in half when I brought it. It was without doubt one of the wettest, most boring pieces of music I’ve had to make myself listen to. Which is a shame because I was really excited about the talent. And they definitely went overboard with the ginger- an orange album and having that Harry Potter kid play him in a music video gets a bit sickly after a while.

2011’s Most Anticipated Debut

Penguin Prison – Penguin Prison. This chap’s been causing a stir on the blogs for a couple of years now and his debut album came out a few months back. Most of the songs have already been out, but there’s something about hearing them in full set that makes the ears very satisfied.

2011’s Most Welcome Return

Man Like Me. One of my favourite bands by a mile, purely because of the genius behind their sillyness, Man Like Me released some new material this year that got me a bit excited.

2011’s Most Interesting Lyric To Come Out Of A Rap

Childish Gambino – Freaks & Geeks: “An elephant never forgets, so my dick remembers everything”.


Listen to a preview of Amy Winehouse’s ‘Lioness’

Out next week (5th December), here’s a preview of all the tracks featured on the Hidden Treasures album along with stories of how they came about.

First Watch: Amy Winehouse ‘Our Day Will Come’

This is the official tribute video for the new Amy Winehouse single. It’s sad and lovely at the same time, and makes you realise how much of a talent was lost. The album’s out next month.

New Music: Lianne La Havas

I got the same knots in my stomach when I watched Lianne La Havas’ performance on Jools Holland as I did when I heard Amy Winehouse and Corinne Bailey Rae for the first times. And it’s such a good feeling to have. Im so happy that this talent is around- in me you have a fan! There’s no question that this lady will invade the charts. Check out here.

First Listen: Amy Winehouse ‘Our Day Will Come’

Here it is- Amy Winehouse‘s upcoming single from her posthumous album, Lioness. Its such a beautiful, happy, calm song. Out next month. RIP Amy. Miss you.

Amy Winehouse posthumous album produced by Ronson and Remi to be released

The Sun is reporting today that there will be an Amy Winehouse posthumous record (of sorts) released under the title ‘Lioness: Hidden Treasures’, which has the Winehouse estate’s full blessing. I’m still hoping that a fuller piece of work will be released in the future as I’m pretty sure there’s more to Amy than these twelve tracks, most of which have been heard in one form or another. Tracklist is as follows:

1. OUR DAY WILL COME (Reggae Version)

2. BETWEEN THE CHEATS

3. TEARS DRY

4. WAKE UP ALONE

5. WILL YOU STILL LOVE ME TOMORROW

6. VALERIE

7. LIKE SMOKE featuring Nas

8. THE GIRL FROM IPANEMA

9. HALFTIME

10. BEST FRIENDS

11. BODY & SOUL with Tony Bennett

12. A SONG FOR YOU

First Watch: Maverick Sabre ‘I Need’

This has to be absolutely my favourite song of the month. Previously featured on here back in March this year, this is the new single from Maverick Sabre. It’s a boy version of Adele and Amy. This is TALENT.

First Watch: Amy Winehouse & Tony Bennett ‘Body and Soul’

This is it- Amy’s last recording. Single’s out today on iTunes. Buy it and remember the greatness that was Amy Winehouse, and to support the new Foundation set up in her name which was also launched today- what would have been Amy’s birthday (the single’s proceeds will go towards it). She looks stunning. I wrote a post a while ago about how important Amy’s music was (and still is) so special to me- read it here if you like.

Hear Amy Winehouse talk about her duet with Tony Bennett

Oh Amy, I miss you so! What’s gearing up to be ‘the’ posthumous Amy Winehouse single (and rightfully so), out on the 14th September with all proceeds going to the Amy Winehouse Foundation.
Yesterday, Amy’s father Mitch Winehouse announced via Twitter that, “The launch of Amy’s foundation 14th September. We will turn our grief into positive action”.

New Music: Elsie

Blondie inspired disco rock with catchy guitar hooks, thumping beats and a distinctive vocal. Championed by the likes of Jim Lowe (Stereophonics) who also produced the album, Par Westerlund (The Wanted, The Saturdays), Marti Frederiksen (Aerosmith/ Foreigner) and Ian Barter (Amy Winehouse). I personally think the video montage thing is mighty cheesy but if you like the song you can download a free copy on her Facebook here.

First Listen: Amy Winehouse & Tony Bennet ‘Body and Soul’

This is the longest clip I could find online so far but Im sure the full version will surface in the week. From Tony Bennett’s forthcoming album ‘Duets II’. Beautiful. Follow Alfitude on Twitter and Facebook to be kept up to date!

My very final thoughts on Amy Winehouse


It’s been a week exactly since the world lost one of it’s most gifted musicians. I’ve had a lot of people ask me why I didn’t write something the day Amy Winehouse died. That night, I opted to post a picture in Amy’s spirit, which I suppose could have been seen in bad taste, but I thought it might have been something she would have giggled at if she saw it herself. But I never met her, so I suppose I’ll never know.

I resisted from writing anything back then, because I wanted some time to look back and sum up my feelings properly. Amy’s music has given me so much since I first discovered it that I felt I should invest a few of of my own hours and write something proper.

Diva.

I want to start but putting things into my perspective. In this phenomenon that we have today called ‘the diva’, only one really stands out for me. And that’s Amy. Because what she felt, she wrote herself, and she sang beautifully. You knew the words that came out of her mouth were from real emotions that she went through.

Talented as she is, ask Beyonce to sum up the utter devastation of a relationship being destroyed right in front of you, in under three minutes, and I doubt she (or any of her writers) could put this to paper:

Or ask Rihanna about the inner strength that you look for when overcoming a break up, and I somehow can’t see her come up with something as empowering yet simple as this:

Don’t get me wrong, these singers are hugely talented. But to me, they are robots. And it’s proof that while the public love to see clean-cut, well rehearsed artists, they also want to listen to musicians who don’t care much for choreography, or creating the next club hit or inspiring the next dance craze. Amy’s music just connected.

Numbers.

Let’s talk numbers, as that seems to be all people talked about upon hearing Amy’s passing. She was twenty-seven, and part of this ’27 club’. But look closer. Amy had two albums.

Just two. Combined, twenty-four songs.

Twenty-four songs. That’s all. And it’s those twenty-four songs (plus a handful of b-sides and covers) which I have played over and over in the last few years to help me figure life and love.

Twenty-seven. We were both the same age, and yet this woman- who I had never met- seemed to make me see sense in the love that worked so well, the love that failed so bad, the men that made me complete and the men that destroyed me to pieces.

The first time I saw Amy live was November 2004, at the soul-less box that was Manchester Academy. The room was half empty. Right there and then, I fell in love.

She finished her set by saying ‘I’m going to play you a couple of songs from the new album I’m working on in Miami. This song’s about weed, and you know how you have… like a friend’s boyfriend who smokes all your weed when they don’t know you? This song’s about that’, before singing what was to be ‘Addicted’ from the Back to Black album:

I stole the poster from that night and tacked it on my wall at my student flat. Friends would walk in and see this big, blue poster with a sultry woman wearing big earrings with a look that goes right through you, and ask who she was. ‘She’s Amy Winehouse’, I would say. ‘She’s amazing. She’s going to be huge one day’.

The blog that you read this post on now started from me spotting emerging artists and predicting the good ones to get big. Amy was my first (and probably biggest) prediction.

Come September 2006, and I am with a friend at the Bloomsbury Ballroom in London. It’s Amy’s first gig showcasing her material from Back to Black. I spent the day talking to work mates, telling them that I was going to see this jazz singer called ‘Amy Winehouse’, and they would all look puzzled and say ‘Who?’

Again, it wasn’t a very busy room, but one with people who were just mesmerised by her. And she just sang her heart out.

A few days later, I remember being in the shower after a rough day at work, and overhearing ‘Rehab’ being played for the first time on Capital Radio. I squealed a little, because I never thought she would be played on a pop station. But she was.

A few more days later, those same work mates who asked me who Amy Winehouse was would say to me ‘Oh I heard that Rehab song on the radio- it’s not bad’. And the rest was history.

When lyrics hit home.

Amy’s lyrics resonated with me in so many different ways that I couldn’t mention them all (and I’m sure you wouldn’t want to know them anyway). But there have been some moments where her lyrics hit home so much so that it made me feel like she somehow knew me (of course, she didn’t). But here’s a couple…

Remember those moments when you pack away memories of a broken relationship into boxes? Amy’s ‘Take the Box’ would be the soundtrack.

And listen to the song, ‘In My Bed, the lyric ‘The only time I hold your hand is to get the angle right’ – was a lyric that held truth when up until just a few years ago I was so jaded with love that the idea of holding someone’s hand terrified me.

Bigger, cleverer, stronger, wiser.

I always think what song I would want played on my funeral. I realise people opt for songs about taking on life and beating it and being bigger, cleverer, stronger or wiser individuals. But where’s the sense in that; when through all your constant battles, death still overtook life, and there you are in a box.

No, I would want to have a different type of song for me. Amy’s rendition of ‘Teach Me Tonight’ would be perfect. It’s all about the naivety of new found love, the willingness to explore someone who fascinates you so much that your heart and mind just surrender.

Because when you look at the bigger picture, life is about love. We are born to love, and love is all we really have, and it’s all we’ll be remembered for in death. We live to find purpose in our existence through a union with that one other special person. For me, a failed life will be one where I ignored love for the sake of power, pride or prejudice.

Days will go by, months will evolve into years, and years become decades. Artists will come and go, and there will always be new music that will touch your heart, and there will always be songs that will become synonymous with events in your life. Some musicians will be idolised, some forgotten. But for me, this one, small, powerful and delicate lady, will be the equals to my youth.

And on that note, I think I’ll finish this. Music is my life. She was, and still is, my favourite recording artist. I’m only twenty-seven, and who knows how long I’ll live until. But I’m pretty sure Amy will be with me for some time yet.

RIP Amy!

An Ode to Amy Winehouse

My plans for tonight. That’s baby talc powder and Benadryl before anyone gets any ideas. And no, I won’t be ingesting either. The booze might really happen though. You know what, say what you will about the sadness of tonight’s news, but her talent will outlive it and be ever lasting. RIP Amy.

Bye Bye Amy

My biggest musical idol of all time, Amy Winehouse, was found dead today at the age of 27. I am so, indescribably upset right now- absolutely shocking news. I always thought she would work her way out of the drugs and bad lifestyle. Why do the good ones always go first? Such a shame. Unbelievable.

I still remember the first time I saw her live, and I remember the countless other times I would see her live, audiences growing bigger with each performance, and that voice growing stronger, before it all started to get too much for her.

But thank you Amy for your music, and for giving this little Arab the strength to pull through with your amazing talent. Rave it up in Heaven. Tonight I’ll drink for you babe. Here’s my dedication to ya.