Album: Amy Winehouse, Amy Winehouse At The BBC (Island)

3.00

A poignant glimpse of talent that was too much to handle

Collecting together all of the BBC's radio and TV recordings of Amy Winehouse, this box set of one CD and three DVDs offers a fascinating portrait of an all-too-brief career, whose vertiginous ascent was simply too steep and sudden for her to control.

It's not as evident in the CD programme, which mingles together performances from different stages of her career; but the chronological assemblage of appearances on Jools Holland's Later... and Hootenanny shows on the first DVD tells its own story, as the generously gifted young chanteuse transforms into superstar before our eyes. As her hair sweeps up off her shoulders into that trademark beehive, so does her fortune rise; yet she tugs all the more obsessively at the hem of her dress, a tic that might be read as an attempt to regain control of her own being.

The most revealing material here, though, is the DVD of her performance at Bayswater's Porchester Hall, at the height of her success in March 2007. The audience, glimpsed in cutaways and at the edge of the stage, seems captivated to be in the presence of A-list celebrity; but Amy seems distracted by the event, drifting through a sometimes desultory performance. The emblematic song tonight is not "Rehab" but "You Know I'm No Good", an expression of languid self-knowledge trimmed of shame: but the apparent lack of concern seeps into her delivery, hinting at a deeper spiritual abandon. By the song's conclusion, it's as if she's already dispensed with it, looking sideways offstage, immune to the applause.

The erosion of control is palpable as the show progresses, though it's hard to tell whether it's due to damage or just boredom. During "I Heard Love Is Blind", her delivery deconstructs the song to a succession of vocal vectors, lines striking out randomly from the central melody, adrift in torpor. To compensate, her band is rhythmically tight throughout, but one barely spares them a glance, drawn as we are to Amy's tottering presence – as if that huge beehive perched atop her pipe-cleaner body were raising her centre of gravity beyond her control. It's a fascinating, tragic vision of a huge talent trapped in a fragile human frame.

Download: You Know I'm No Good; Love Is A Losing Game; Rehab; Valerie

Arts and Entertainment
Rachel McAdams in True Detective season 2

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Off the wall: the cast of ‘Life in Squares’

TV
Arts and Entertainment

Books And it is whizzpopping!

Arts and Entertainment
Bono throws water at the crowd while the Edge watches as they perform in the band's first concert of their new world tour in Vancouver

MusicThey're running their own restaurants

Voices
The main entrance to the BBC headquarters in London
TV & Radio
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

    Solved after 200 years

    The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
    Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

    Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

    Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
    Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

    Sunken sub

    Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
    Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

    Age of the selfie

    Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
    Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

    Not so square

    How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
    Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

    Still carrying the torch

    The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
    The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

    The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

    ...but history suggests otherwise
    The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

    The bald truth

    How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
    Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

    Tour de France 2015

    Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
    Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

    A new beginning for supersonic flight?

    Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
    I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

    I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

    Latest on the Labour leadership contest
    Froome seals second Tour de France victory

    Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

    Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
    Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

    The uses of sarcasm

    'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
    A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

    No vanity, but lots of flair

    A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
    Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

    In praise of foraging

    How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food