Dylan Jones: Winehouse makes an astonishing record

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The Independent Online

Where sex is concerned, we all know that one man's meat is another man's meat loaf. It's the same with music, especially with "sex" music. All of us, I'm sure, have a record that has the ability to make us go a little haywire downstairs, a song that makes us arch our back a little more as it sends expectant signals to the groin. Could be Dusty Springfield's "The Look Of Love", could be "Let's Spend the Night Together" by the Rolling Stones, could be any number of dirty bump-and-grind records.

Or it could be - if you've got the musical appreciation of a Flanimal - Mousse T's "Horny" or Color Me Badd's "I Want to Sex You Up". Then there are those records that simply sound like sex - Led Zeppelin, James Brown, Prince, Billie Holiday, Pink - the sort that make your mind wander (though hopefully not your hands) when you hear them on the radio.

For years I vacillated between Marvin Gaye's "I Want You" and David Bowie's "Drive In Saturday", two songs that, while not exactly acting as seduction tools, are both possessed with an innate lasciviousness. But just last week they were replaced in my affections by the most libidinous record I've heard this century. The song is by Amy Winehouse, from her current Back to Black album, and is extraordinarily sexual in so many ways. I'm not the world's biggest Winehouse fan, and only heard the record because it was given to me by a friend who thought I'd enjoy this particular track. In fact, from what I've heard of the tattooed north London chanteuse, if I saw her walking down the street I'd consider it perfectly reasonable to cross to the other side with something of an accelerated sprint.

But the facts are the facts: this is simply an astonishing record. It sounds like a collision between 1940s jump blues, 1950s dirty doo-wop and slick 1960s soul, all mixed together with predictably unselfconscious postmodern panache (this is the 21st century, after all, and all records these days reference the past in some form or another). Winehouse's voice is a completely surprising appropriation of black torch singing, the sort of voice that Joss Stone might have if she didn't try so much to be liked. And as the noise of it all begins to perk you up, the words fold in like a litany of complaints - funny, wanton lyrics that manage to acknowledge weakness while being sexually aggressive at the same time, words that could only have been written this decade, and only by a woman. (The lyrics also include a variation of a popular expletive that is unlikely to ever find itself in Webster's.)

The tenet of the song is essentially revenge, which causes me some anxiety. Rather worryingly, this most lascivious of tunes is called "Me And Mr Jones".

Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'

d.jones@independent.co.uk

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