101 of 109 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2011
"Lioness" consists of 12 previously unreleased archive recordings and alternate takes, compiled by long-time friends and producers including Salaam Remi and Mark Ronson, in the wake of her death this July, aged just 27.
In the wrong hands, this might have been a slapdash collection, but "Lioness" is presented with genuine tenderness and it never paints Winehouse as a tragic diva stereotype.
The focus, quite rightly, is her vocal talent - not just its soulful power but also its stylistic range. And while there's an obvious melancholy in hearing Winehouse's tones again, there's also dreamy warmth, demonstrated by the opening reggae version of "Our Day Will Come" (originally by 1960s group Ruby & The Romantics Our Day Will Come: Very Best of).
Some of these tracks predate Winehouse's 2003 debut album, "Frank": there's her jazzy teenage take on "The Girl From Ipanema" and the arguable stand-out, elegant original soul melody "Halftime" (dating back to 2002).
Her casual charm and command elevates the familiar covers, whether it's The Shirelles' "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?" or another reworking of The Zutons' "Valerie".
There are also curious collaborations: Like "Smoke" is infused with Nas's rap homage to his Camden 'homie', while Winehouse's final studio recording is "Body & Soul", a vintage jazz cut with 85 year old crooner Tony Bennett.
Essentially, the material on "Lioness" should have been a foundation, not a memorial, but it feels like a passionate affair.
The end notes are sweet, full of unmistakeable personality and resonance. A Haider
The Best Of The Shirelles
Tired of Hanging Around
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2012
Wow! All this time I have slept on Amy Winehouse...How foolish was I to dismiss this wonderful voice due to the media madness and negativity surrounding her personal life and battles...Man! I love her vocals...She was a very talented artist...I hear a lot of mystery in here vocals...Her voice is hauntingly addictive...Half Time is so smooth...What a shame she is no longer with us...But she lives through her mesmerizing vocals..
92 of 107 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2011
Considering the impact of 2006's instant classic Back to Black I don't think many would have thought they'd still be waiting for a follow up in 2011. In the years between the two albums Amy became a drug user and by 2008 at age 24 was diagnosed with emphysema as a result of smoking crack cocaine, cannabis & tobacco. Images of Amy on drugs from 2008 onwards were grim. Weight drained with sunken cheeks she looked like a completely different person to the happy curvaceous Frank singer of 2003. Amid stories of bar fights and substance abuse eventually reports of new music trickled through. In October 2009 Island Records co-president Darcus Beese claimed- `I've heard a couple of song demos that have absolutely floored me', while Amy stated in July 2010 that a new album similar in sound to BtB would be released by 2011. Throughout 2010 Universal had kept several London studios open around the clock incase Amy would want to record. However following her death most reports indicated studio sessions had been sporadic and the bulk of new material left behind consisted of demos. Amy's passing was not a surprise but it was a shock and ultimately disappointing as we'd never get a third album from this prodigal songstress as intended.
For the release of Lioness: Hidden Treasures Salem Remi, Mark Ronson & co have compiled a career spanning collection of material consisting of Frank/BtB demos, multiple covers and a couple of new tracks. In short this is not the mock up third album of all new material fans were hoping for, although it appears only two new songs were completed so perhaps this is as close as we're going to get. Being a shameless cash grab aimed at the Christmas market it is as you would expect a mixed offering, but more than anything this collection highlights the diversity of Amy's music both vocally and stylistically. 'Between the Cheats' (2008) a Doo-wop inspired number and one of the tracks most likely to have appeared on a third album is an undisputed highlight. It shuffles along in somber/soulful fashion and features an awesome chorus. You get the sense the vocals could have been a guide track as some of the lines seem slightly muffled. That aside BTC ranks alongside anything off BtB. 'Tears Dry' (2005) on paper looks like an needless addition but with a slowed tempo and original arrangement in lieu of the Gaye/Terrell sample it's effectively a completely different song and arguably better than the 'original' version.
Other highlights include new song 'Like Smoke' (2008) which finds Amy swapping verses with her favourite rapper Nas, Frank era leftover 'Best Friends, Right?' & 1930's Jazz standard 'Body and Soul' recorded in March of this year with another of her musical heros- Tony Bennet (originally appearing on his Duets II album). On the flip side demos of BtB tracks we've all heard a million times such as 'Wake Up Alone' & 'Valerie' are unessesary and feel like they're included to make up the numbers while Mark Ronson's posthumously added production to tracks such as 'Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow' feels forced and ham-fisted. The final song is a cover of the Leon Russell classic 'A Song For You' made famous by Donny Hathaway. Recorded by Salem Remi in 2009 at Amy's home while she was reportedly under the influence of heroin. This is not Amy at her best but the performances' failings actually add an extra layer of emotion that elevate this to become one of her most powerful songs, and it's inclusion while somewhat controversial paints the full picture of who she was within the scope of her music by showing her at her best And worst. To conclude If you're a fan this is an essential purchase full of rarities and gems which occasionally rival Frank & BtB.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2011
I've read other reviews prior to purchasing this album and although the vast majority were positive, there were those hard-core fans who were disappointed, because they didn't consider this package to be a new third album by Amy, as well as were disappointed that a few tracks/alternative takes of her old songs were included on this.
Well, firstly I must say that I was well aware that prior to buying this album, that the producers and record company had very little vault material to work with and did their best to put together one last album in memory of Amy. And with that said, they did an excellent job producing this project. I was not disappointed. The CD is a good listen from track one until the final track, a rarity in today's music world. I didn't have to or want to skip any track.
Some of my favorites are "Our Day Will Come" Classic Amy Sound, "Tears Dry" I love this stripped down version- it highlights her beautiful voice, "Like Smoke," this could be a big hit. Nas flows nicely on this track and they both compliment each other. I can see a Grammy Nomination next year for Best Vocal/Rap collaboration, for "Like Smoke."
I see from reviews that some did not like Amy's version of "The Girl From Ipanema," but I like it a lot, it really shows her jazz vocal styling, as well as it has a nice contemporary hip hop beat, which makes it more modern and approachable to younger audiences. "Half Time," is another track that I find outstanding and can see being a hit. As someone else mentioned in their review, if you heard this on the radio, you would swear it was Eryka Badu (another excellent vocalist), they both sound alike on this track. I love the whole grove of this track and can see Neo Soul die-hard fans gravitating to this track.
The last two tracks seem appropriately placed, as "Body and Soul," was her last recording, which is an excellent recording that showcases her jazz vocal stylings that is very comparable to Billie Holiday. And the last song, "A Song For You, " was a bitter-sweet end track, because it sums up her life and career, as she at times struggled and slurred her way through the track, but in the end she delivers her song just for you.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2011
So, I've read other reviews about the album being somewhat boring and not what they expected. In my opinion they're missing the point of the cd. First of all, don't buy the mp3 download, you're missing the context of the cd. 2nd of all, you're missing an honest, beautiful, and sweet introduction in the album pamphlet by Mark Ronson.
It's about context not just content, and if you're a true Amy Winehouse fan you'll appreciate the cd regardless. It may not be as "exciting" as Back to Black, but it is exactly what I expected, and I love it. I'm confident any honest fan will feel the same. Totally worth it
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
These are the remaining unreleased songs by Amy Winehouse. Within her short and tragic life she managed to present a synopsis of work that truly showed she was a genius and a truly gifted artist. Here we have covers of some classics and alternate takes of songs already released plus a few never heard before. The covers are simply amazing and she makes each her own. OUR DAY WILL COME is sublime. She totally reinvents THE GIRL FROM IPANEMA with a stupendous vocal performance. WILL YOU STILL LOVE ME TOMORROW gets a very dramatic presention and her vocals match it with an intense emotional performance. Whatever the song or style of music Amy Winehouse always showed an inate understanding of the music and approached each song with all she had. Her true range and emotional capacity was always amazing.
BEST FRIENDS, RIGHT is an excellent heartfelt song and we get alternate versions of TEARS DRY and WAKE UP ALONE which were both on BACK TO BLACK. One of the true standout tracks is her duet with Tony Bennett BODY AND SOUL. Her vocal interpretation is haunting and lovely displaying her at her best. There are some true gems here and even the lesser tracks shine as they get that added dimension for they are being interpreted by a truly gifted artist. The untimely death of Amy Winehouse was a true tragedy and thankfully this collection has no filler and does her memory justice.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Just this weekend, I saw the new documentary "Amy" (more on that later). It of course led me to dig up my Amy Winehouse CDs. This particular collection was rush-released in the wake of Amy's passing away in 2011. Not surprisingly, this was released in December, 2011, just in time for the Christmas shopping season (the same would be done with 2012's "At the BBC" live collection). Apart from the obvious money-grab, how good are these songs actually?
"Lioness: Hidden Treasures" (12 tracks; 45 min.) starts with a cover of the reggae classic "Our Day Will Come" (2nd UK single), a fun outtake from the "Frank" sessions, with Amy sounding relaxed and in great form. "Between The Cheats" is one of a couple of tunes on here that was intended for Amy's next album. "Tears Dry" is an intriguing early version (in ballad style) of what would become "Tears Dry On Their Own". "Like Smoke" is a posthumous mash-up with Nas, not my favorite, frankly. "Valerie" is the original version recorded with Mark Ronson (before the Motown beat was added that would make this a hit single). "Half Time" is one of the most intriguing tracks on here, intended for the much talked about side project with the Roots' ?uestlove that never came to being, "Body and Soul" (1st UK single) is the duet with Tony Bennett (and Amy's last studio recording, from March, 2011, just 4 months before her death). The recording of "Body and Soul" is covered in the new documentary "Amy" and is an absolute highlight.. This collection closes with a cover of Danny Hathaway's "A Song For You", apparently intended for Amy's third album, according to the liner notes. Speaking of which, the CD booklet is most helpful, with great insights from Salaam Remi and Mark Ronson. Bottom line: the songs on "Lioness" are surprisingly good, but "Lioness" as an album lacks cohesion, which doesn't come as a surprise of course, as these songs are grabbed from all over time and place. Still, this is a nice addition to the Amy Winehouse catalog.
As to the documentary, "Amy" was directed by the same guy who made the outstanding documentary called "Senna" some 3-4 ago on the life and times of F-1 driver Ayrton Senna, and here as well, he delivers a top-notch documentary that will enrage and shock and sadden you. Given complete access to all video and audio archives by the Winehouse family (read: Amy's dad Mitch), Mitch now has disavowed this documentary (because he looks more interested in Amy's money than Amy's well-being). Family bickering aside, there is performance footage in the documentary that will make your jaw drop to the floor, the most amazing for me being when Amy is filmed while's she's recording the song "Back to Black", we see/hear her mostly a-cappella while she has headphones on, with an arm casually on a chair, and after the song Amy commenting to no-one in particular "that was a bit heavy, no?" (it turned out to be the take that ended u on the album). "Amy" is a MUST-SEE!
14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 2011
I was afraid this posthumous addition to Amy Winehouse's catalogue, much like Michael Jackson's latest 'effort' "Michael", was going to be a shameless cash grab orchestrated by her label, Island Records. "Lioness" appears to be an honest homage via heartfelt compilation that, unfortunately, never saw the light of day...until now.
"Lioness" mostly consists of covers of tried and true classics ("The Girl From Ipanema", "Will You Still Love Me Tommorow", "Our Day Will Come" etc) and a few rerecorded tracks ("Wake Up Alone", "Tears Dry" etc) with a few official unreleased tracks thrown in for good measure ("Halftime", "Between The Cheats", "Like Smoke"). If you frequent YouTube, there's a chance you have already heard many of these unreleased outtakes and if you haven't then you are in for a treat. Excluded from the album are about a dozen tracks Winehouse supposedly did not want released. I fear, however, that this might be a hollow promise from Island Records to bait us into buying yet another posthumous compilation in the future; here's hoping I'm wrong.
On a lighter note, however, Amy Winehouse's vocals sound great and her duet with Tony Bennett, "Body And Soul", smolders. "Wake Up Alone" is another gratifying track featuring a stripped down performance from the band complimenting Amy's smoky voice which sounds just as good as I remember. "Between The Cheats" is another fantastic original retro-pop song and one of my favorite cuts from the album. "Like Smoke" is the only weak track due to it's attempted merging of two completely unlike genres. Listen and listen good, Island Records: rap and soul don't mix. I like them separate and I don't know about you, but Nas and Amy Winehouse makes for a nonsensical, unpleasant collaboration. That said, it's also painfully obvious that his verses were recorded and added after she died just to haphazardly tack this track onto the album at the last minute. Thankfully, the rest of the album is saved by competent compositions featuring jazzy syncopated rhythms and harmonized male background vocals reminiscent of 1960's Motown.
Overall, "Lioness" is a fine addition to Winehouse's already breathtaking retro-soul repertoire. I'm not ashamed to admit I actually shed a few tears while listening to it for the second or third time when it finally hit me...she's really gone. Despite her struggle with drugs and alcohol, which eventually claimed Winehouse's life at the tender age of 27, she provided the public with some quality music which is more than I can say for many of her contemporaries. Reportedly, Winehouse had plans to release a jazz album featuring Salaam Remi and the Roots' drummer Questlove...ah, what could have been. Amy, we miss you.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I was writing this review when a friend of mine called me. I told him I'm writing a review for an album of previously unreleased material by Amy Winehouse. "Amy Winehouse?" He repeated the name in an interrogative tone. I said: Why not? Sometimes I really have to get out from my comfort zone and give other singers a chance to be heard in order to appreciate their talent. One such singer was Amy Winehouse whom I believe had a great talent that was interrupted too soon due to her untimely death. With her stylish vocal art and had she completely and wholeheartedly focused a hundred percent on jazz, she could have been a remarkable modern-day-jazz-diva.
"How did you hear about that recording?" My friend asked me.
It was played as background music in my Pilates class at the gym some weeks ago. At the start of the class and as the music begins to play, I have no clue who the singer was but I was listening with intent and was very impressed with the first track, "Our Day Will Come" and the succeeding songs--"Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" and "The Girl From Ipanema." I asked myself: "Who is this singer?" I can't recognize her voice but she surely sounded very good on the aforementioned songs. It was only on the 11th track that I realized it was Amy Winehouse. How could I know when I didn't really explore her music? After the class, I asked my Pilates instructor the title of the CD which she gladly informed me: "Lioness/Hidden Treasures."
When Tony Bennett's "Duets II" was released in September of 2011, it was only then that I had the chance to listen to her on one of the very best tracks in that album, "Body And Soul," which is also one of the best in this album that was released in December of 2011, five months after her premature death. Upon hearing it for the first time in "Duets II," I thought she was obviously trying to sound like Billie Holiday but she was just creating her own vocal styling in jazz. I am really blown away with the outcome of the duet with Tony Bennett. Both of them--as a pair--did an exceptional rendition of this classic standard. And to top it all, she was very confident singing with the living legend and musical icon. This track was recorded at Abbey Road Studios, London in March of 2011. It is so special and memorable because it was her very last and final studio recording. It also won the Grammy for Best Pop Duo Performance at the 54th Grammy Awards in 2012.
I like the way she cleverly reinvented a Bossa Nova staple from Antonio Carlos Jobim, Vinicius de Moraes and Norman Gimbel, "The Girl From Ipanema," and gave it a uniquely fresh twist that shows off a bit of her scatting ability.
Bob Hillard and Mort Garson's "Our Day Will Come" is also one of the album's centerpieces of beauty and coolness. It was noted on Liner Notes by SaLaAM ReMi (exactly the way it was written) that Amy was a huge reggae fan. So she and her band interpreted the song in such kind of rhythm. To my enthusiastic ears, it is a delish ear candy and my current favorite version.
It was nice being present at that Pilates class, otherwise, I wouldn't have enjoyed listening to new and creative covers of "The Girl From Ipanema," "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow," "A Song For You" and most especially "Our Day Will Come," all courtesy of Amy Winehouse, multi-Grammy award winning R&B/Soul/Reggae/Jazz singer/songwriter/arranger/guitar player/drummer all rolled into one.
"It wasn't until I sat down with the rest of the family and listened to this album that I fully appreciated the breadth of Amy's talent, from jazz standards to hip hop songs. It really took my breath away. If the family had felt that this album wasn't up to the standard of 'Frank' and 'Back To Black' we would never have agreed to release it and we believe it will stand as a fitting tribute to Amy's musical legacy." ~ Mitch Winehouse ~
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2011
Go get it. Pour a glass and enjoy. Her cover of Our Day Will Come is glorious and her duet with Tony Bennet just heavenly.