header

Tag Archives | Amy Winehouse

Revisionism – Remixing The Reflex Way

Michael-Jackson-Revised

A couple of months ago, when I last played in Brighton, I was talking to Paul Budd, the promoter (and DJ Pablo Contraband), about how things were going with his Unity Agency (a man of many fingers in pies is Paul / Pablo). He was really excited about just having added The Reflex as the latest addition to an increasingly impressive roster that also includes the likes of Late Nite Tuff Guy, Rayko, Social Disco Club and Fingerman. The Reflex is London based French DJ / Producer, Nicolas Laugier, and it wasn’t just his work that impressed Paul, but his overall persona. Paul told me; '”Before we officially signed The Reflex to the Unity roster, Nicolas was keen that we should meet up to discuss goals and strategy whilst getting to know one another better, so we had an afternoon in Brighton which was absolutely key to me understanding what I was dealing with in terms of talent and commitment. For the first time I got a real insight into how much Nicolas had invested in The Reflex in terms of time and effort, his story regarding volunteering as an unpaid studio assistant to learn more skills and techniques each day, finding his own studio space, then often sleeping in his studio a few nights a week when working on something - it was quickly apparent that this guy was the real deal. His attention to detail and general enthusiasm for what I regard as an art form were great to see and in turn motivated me. I could hear this more clearly in his work after having met him. Really glad we chose to have that meeting as his professionalism and energy were really inspiring for me and could never have been properly translated via email and phone.”

The Reflex has recently come to prominence in underground dance circles via his ‘Reflex Revisions’, which are basically remixes as they used to be back in the day (expect, of course, that they’re unofficial), when the remixer worked purely from the original parts, reinterpreting what was recorded on the multitrack, rather than replacing stuff wholesale, or even changing everything so that the original only remains in name, as became the case later down the line when record companies saw the possibility of selling, let’s say, a Techno track to a Hip Hop audience. Nowadays it’s the norm for a variety of mixes in different genre styles to be commissioned, in order to maximise club exposure, but in earlier times there’d generally be the one remix of a track, often with a more dubbed out / instrumental alternative, but very much recognisable as the original recording from a different angle.

All the great remixers of this bygone era worked in this way – Tom Moulton, Walter Gibbons, François Kevorkian, Larry Levan, Tee Scott, Shep Pettibone, ‘Jellybean’ Benitez etc. This is the philosophy I’ve always tried to maintain myself, and rather than attempting to push square pegs into a round holes by working with tracks I’m not personally into (as many remixers do, wholesale changes enabling them to make it into something it never was intended to be the first place), I’ll only take on a job if the track appeals to me, which means that elements of the original are always going to be to the fore. In its purest form, remixing, as the word itself states, is reworking a recording that exists, but the lines became blurred between remix and remake, so that now it just means a different version, regardless of whether it only uses the original parts or doesn’t use any at all (my own remixes are built around the original, but generally with new elements introduced to make the track suit the type of gigs I play).

With this in mind it was fascinating to learn that when Nicolas does his ‘Revisions’ he only uses the original parts. He acquires the stems (each of the original multitrack tape channels) of an older, pre-digital, recording, and rebuilds it in his own way, contemporising it for DJ’s now. As with most of the re-edits these days, he quantizes these revisions / remixes (digitally manipulating them into strict time) so they’re DJ friendly (enabling DJ’s to mix in and out) – in short, making records that weren’t designed to be mixed mixable. I was already massively into his work, a number of his revisions huge for me, but when Paul Budd told me that Nicolas prided himself on adding no extra ingredients, I was all the more impressed. When I play his version of The Jackson 5’s ‘ABC’ I’m in awe at the sound coming out of the speakers, for I fondly remember this track from when it was released, 43 years ago, sandwiched in between 2 further J5 classics, ‘I Want You Back’ and ‘The Love You Save’ (all 3, their first singles, topping the US chart, and going Top 10 UK). What The Reflex has managed to do is bridge a couple of generations and make a track with 60’s production values sound like it belongs here and now, and without adding any other sounds, other than those that were on the original multitrack – a quite remarkable feat really. Check it out here:


http://soundcloud.com/thereflex/jackson-5-abc-dj-moodz-remix

It’s clear to me that he has a mage like mastery over his studio set up, and whilst he doesn’t want to add any other instrumentation, he’s making full use of the technology at his disposal in order to bring this antiquated recording (at least from a club perspective) bang up to date. He’s also nailing things from an arrangement side, and whilst some of his earlier stuff didn’t hang together quite right for me, he’s now significantly upped his strike rate, pulling off some remix masterstrokes in the process, the best-received of which has been another Michael Jackson track, this time without the other 4, his 1979 classic ‘Rock With You’, which The Reflex has transformed into a Disco symphony – with over 50,000 SoundCloud plays to date, this is by far and away his greatest success to date:

http://soundcloud.com/thereflex/rock-with-you-o-the-reflex-1

Things really began to take off for The Reflex when Gilles Peterson, a key figure in this story, played this new take on ‘Rock With You’ to a rapturous audience response on his BBC6 show back in February (http://soundcloud.com/thereflex/rock-with-you-o-the-reflex-re). The version Gilles played had Rod Temperton’s voice at the start (Temperton, the songs writer, had been captured on tape demonstrating how it went), and although this worked great for radio, where its quirkiness can be explained, it would have sounded a bit odd in a club – the context all wrong. Not to fear, The Reflex made a version available minus Temperton’s voice and all was well with the world, the track becoming a festival anthem this summer for me and many others, its glorious strings and keyboard opening sumptuously seductive.

Other personal favourite revisions include ‘I Wish’ (Stevie Wonder), which I had the pleasure of opening up with in Detroit earlier this year (http://www.gregwilson.co.uk/2013/06/american-trilogy-motortown-philly-nyc-2/), ‘Got Me Burning’ (aka Ohio Players ‘Fire’) and ‘Give It Up Or Turn It Loose’ (aka James Brown’s ‘Give It Up Or Turnit A Loose’).

Where does he find the stems though? I emailed him for the lowdown and he told me; “Now I don't really want to be the one who spills the beans 'officially’, mainly because a lot of people don't know where and why those stems are available. There's already lots of guys on the case remixing the same stems, which makes my job a lot harder. I get asked all the time where I find my stuff when most of it is on the net - one just needs to find the websites.”

I got to know more about Nicolas and his background in a highly revealing exchange that says so much about his determination to make his mark. His journey began with an obsession for 60’s Mod culture, and that this was the reason he moved to London in the late 90’s, when he was 18 – to be in the city where the Modernists had first emerged 40 years earlier. It’s clear from this piece of information alone that The Reflex has come at things from a curve ball direction, his musical grounding more R&B, Soul and Funk than Hip Hop, House and Techno.

He found it a struggle to make ends meet in the city, but during more recent years, to supplement any odd jobs he could find, he managed to gain a foothold working as a DJ in bars, corporate events, even weddings, his wide-ranging taste in music standing him in good stead. Although this wasn’t what he had in mind when he’d decided he wanted to be a DJ, it provided a solid learning curve. He began, like so many other DJ’s, to put together his own basic edits and mash-ups to play out, and interested in studio techniques, and inspired by some of his remix heroes, like Tom Moulton, Larry Levan, John Morales and Walter Gibbons, he began to work at putting his own stuff together on his newly acquired computer, but never seemed to get anything finished, clogging up his hard drive with what he described as a load of ‘half-baked’ ideas.

Then, 3 years ago, he made a leap of faith, deciding to give his all, shit or bust, to becoming a full-time DJ / producer, and, most importantly, vowing to start finishing tracks and getting them out there. It was around this time he was listening to Gilles Peterson on the radio and heard him play a remix of Marvin Gaye’s ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’ that Marc Rapson had done from the stems of the track (Rapson was previously the keyboard player in Ben Westbeech’s band, who were signed to Gilles’s Brownswood label). Nicolas takes it up; “Of course I wondered who was this Marc Rapson guy and where did he find those multitracks? Well like I always say, Google is your best friend, and so I started working on the multis of (Marvin Gaye’s) ‘What’s Going On’ with the sole purpose of doing a mix for my own enjoyment. Around that time John Morales had started to release his mixes on BBE, Dimitri from Paris had been there all along but his Philly mixes really brought the whole thing to my attention, whilst Kon (Boston DJ revered for his re-edits / reworks) was being played by Gilles regularly”.

Nicolas set up his studio and remixed tracks like ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ (Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell) and ‘Heart Of Glass’ (Blondie), but it was with ‘ABC’, which took him 5 weeks to complete, that he first hit the bullseye; “The ‘ABC’ mix was a bit of a cornerstone for me, as the new arrangement it took a rather cheesy classic to a whole different place, strictly done using the original parts and 100% mix friendly. I also rather enjoyed the surprise aspect of arranging, where you could slowly unveil a very famous track through a whole new structure and then the obvious bit would finally drop and you’d be like ‘wow I didn’t expect that kind of vibe”.

The Soundcloud community provided a vital link to the type of audience interested in re-edits / reworks, whilst it also enabled Nicolas to interact with like-minded producers including Dimitri, DJ Friction, Jay Negro, Kon and the Whiskey Barons, helping him gain further insight into this subculture of stem alchemy. I asked him how he’d got his name; “The main trick for me was to make those mixes fully DJ friendly so they would be super tight for mixing, just as if you were mixing a modern record that was tempolocked. That’s how the name The Reflex came about, after all I was spending so much time ‘flexing’ those audio files so they would fit to the grid”.

In 2012, G.A.M.M., the Swedish label known for their re-edit releases, pressed up the first ‘Reflex Re-Visions’ 12”, and the series is now up to Vol 4 – these have featured remixes of tracks by The Jackson 5, James Brown, Amy Winehouse, Marvin Gaye, Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell, Stevie Wonder, Blood Sweat & Tears and Ohio Players. He’s also seen his work issued on a few other other labels and, along with Gilles Peterson, has received crucial support on BBC6 from Craig Charles.

Having established a reputation for quality revisions of classic tunes, it’s clear that Nicolas’s star is in the ascendancy, and he’s now able to offer advice to those starting off on the same course; “Over the years the multitracks business has become an integral part of the music industry with countless remix competitions, many labels giving away the stems for free or for sale. Personally I don’t do competitions anymore as they are just another way for labels to get lots of remixes for free. This may help your profile but then again, 99% of the time you never get any feedback and your tracks just get lost amongst thousands of others. Although remixing from multis involves a lot of audio editing (but also in my case a lot of chopping up and re-sequencing) most people call them ‘edits’. For me an ‘edit’ is done chopping up and extending / re-arranging a whole song, working from the multis is a ‘remix’. But to be honest I’ve given up on the terminology - most people call them ‘edits’ so it doesn’t matter anymore! I call my multitrack remixes ‘Revisions’ as that’s what it is really, a revised version of the original song using the sounds as raw material to create something new. Anything else I do called ‘edit’ or ‘rework’ isn’t done from the multis. I’ll stress that on many occasions people do not actually realize that all has been done using strictly the original sounds, often I’m being told that I added a kick here or a bass sound there. Technology today allows so many options in dealing with audio files that we are able to process them in a way that was unthinkable even 10 years ago. At the end of the day my ambition is to come up with an interesting take on classic (or not so classic) tracks tailored for the DJ world and putting to the fore some of the amazing grooves and instrumentation that sometimes got lost in the original songs because of the way they were mixed or arranged.”

Although he prefers to not to divulge where these stems can be found, I can personally reveal that, during recent times, as many people have already worked out for themselves, one of the main sources has been the unlikely area of gaming, particularly ‘Rock Band’ and ‘Guitar Hero’, where the record companies who license the original tracks break them down to between 4 and 12 stems on average, so that in the game one person can play drums, one bass, another guitar etc. Stems for some of the world’s most legendary artists are made available in this way. For example, here’s the Beatles track, ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ (1967), a 4 track recording broken down to its individual stems:

YouTube Preview Image http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-wXZ5-Yxuc

These gaming stems are post-mix, which means that reverb and other FX have been added. To obtain the raw musical components, the pure recording as it went to tape, without any additional production treatment, you’d need to find those taken direct from the multitrack. With a global subculture of stem hunters now out there, gaining access to previously uncharted multi’s has become the holy grail – kudos on offer to those who are first out of the blocks in getting their hands on a new old track. With a limitless amount of possibilities out there, this is something that’s only going to get bigger, with producers like The Reflex now cast in the role of pioneers to this new generation of revisionists.

The Reflex – 5 Favourite Revisions By Others:
Linda Clifford ‘Runaway Love’ (Masters At Work)
Norma Jean ‘Saturday' (Dimitri From Paris)
Pleasure ‘Joyous’ (Kon)
Brick ‘Dazz’ (Tom Moulton)
Jackie Moore ‘This Time Baby’ (John Morales)

History Of Multitrack Recording Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_multitrack_recording

The Reflex Revisions On YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/user/thereflexedits

12

Living To Music – Arctic Monkeys ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’

ARTIST: ARCTIC MONKEYS

ALBUM: WHATEVER PEOPLE SAY I AM, THAT’S WHAT I’M NOT

LABEL: DOMINO

YEAR: 2006

This Sunday (October 7th) at 9pm, you’re invited to share a listening session with some likeminded souls, wherever you might be. This can be experienced either alone or communally, and you don’t need to leave the comfort of your own home to participate. If it’s not possible to make the allotted time, hopefully you can join in at your convenience at some point during the following week. See update here:
http://www.gregwilson.co.uk/2012/07/living-to-music-update-july-2012/

My son has participated in the Living To Music sessions from the off. He was 11 when they started and already embroiled in music – he’s since become something of a multi-instrumentalist, playing in 3 different bands – keyboards in one, drums in another and bass in the third. He’s currently getting into guitar as well, so, given that I never, to my shame, learnt to play anything myself (bar records), he’s fortunately not inherited his father's lack of musical dexterity (resulting from a lack of patience).

The Nirvana ‘Nevermind’ session, 12 months ago, made a particularly big impression on him, and he’d subsequently become familiar with their wider body of music. Further to this he’d become a big fan of Foo Fighters, the band led by ex-Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl (who’d switched to vocals and guitar). His highlight of the year was going to see them live at the Leeds Festival in August.

He’s always had music around him, in a whole spectrum of styles, but he’s naturally gravitated towards Indie-Rock and, tracing the lineage back, Punk, discovering a broad range of artists, old and new, in the process. However, one band has captured his heart above all others during recent months – Sheffield’s Arctic Monkeys.

Although I’d never found time to take a closer listen, I’d always personally liked whatever I’ve heard and seen of them, via radio plays or TV appearances I’ve caught, ever since they burst of the scene with one of the great singles of the 00’s, their official debut (they’d previously released a limited EP), ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’, which rocketed straight to the #1 spot on the chart in October 2005. A second single, ‘When The Sun Goes Down’, once again a chart topper, was released a week ahead of the eagerly anticipated album, ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’, which duly became the UK's fastest selling debut , shifting a staggering 360,000 copies in its first week. The LP’s title was taken from the Alan Sillitoe novel ‘Saturday Night and Sunday Morning’ (1958), which was subsequently made into a film 2 years later, winning acclaim as one of the ‘kitchen sink dramas’, which were a spate of gritty Northern tales that revitalized British cinema during the late 50’s / early 60’s – frontman Alex Turner recognising a similar spirit in the book to what the band were projecting on the album.

Arctic Monkeys make a great noise, vital and vibrant with hooks galore, but what really sets them apart is the lyrical excellence of the then 20 year old Turner. He brilliantly articulates the experience of city centre nightlife / street life, warts and all, telling it as it is in his own language and his own endearing broad South Yorkshire accent. It’s such a well observed collection of songs, a breath of fresh air in an era that will be largely remembered as the X Factor age, with wannabe pop stars singing whatever they’re told to in pursuit of fame and celebrity. This album reminds us that, even at a time when we’re seemingly in a cultural cul-de-sac, great music is still being made by young people with something real to say.

So, big thanks to my son for turning me on to a brilliant album that I wouldn’t have got around to checking out, at least not at this point, otherwise. ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’, is only the 3rd 21st century recording chosen for L2M – the others being Amy Winehouse ‘Back To Black’ (in Aug 2011) and Janelle Monáe ‘The ArchAndroid’ (in Nov 2011).

Your own thoughts are always welcomed, and, should you join us for Sunday’s session, it’d be great if you could leave a comment here after you’ve listened to the album sharing your impressions – how the music affected you, who you listened to it with, where you were, plus anything else relevant to your own individual / collective experience.

Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whatever_People_Say_I_Am,_That%27s_What_I%27m_Not

Living To Music Facebook Events Page:
https://www.facebook.com/events/279023185541098/

Original Living To Music Post (including guidelines):
http://www.gregwilson.co.uk/2010/06/living-to-music/

9

When Amy Came To Dingle

Saw a wonderful documentary on the flight back to the UK the other week called ‘When Amy Came To Dingle’, which captures her appearance in this enchanting Irish outpost. Filmed in 2006 as part of RTÉ TV’s ‘Other Voices’ series (which has also included Florence and the Machine, Ray Davies, Snow Patrol, Sinead O'Connor, Elbow and The XX), the programme combined an intimate live performance, before an audience of just 70 people at St. James Church, with a fascinating interview that highlights the singers’ influences, including Mahalia Jackson, Ray Charles, Thelonious Monk, Sarah Vaughan, Carleen Anderson, Soweto Kinch and The Shangri-la’s.

2006 was the year her ‘Back to Black’ album was released, with Winehouse destined for superstardom throughout the following years, complete with all its plaudits and pitfalls – a hazardous junk strewn road that led to her untimely death last July. So to see her at her radiant best, singing these now classic songs in such a special setting, was a joy to behold.

Her performance, backed with just guitar and bass (2 musicians had to be left behind when bad weather meant a change of flight) was stunning. She performed 6 songs in all:

 

http://youtu.be/17RYqh93sKY

Her interview with John Kelly has been compiled here:
http://youtu.be/ay3DHDZmSK4

 

The RTÉ footage is about to form the basis of a further documentary, 'Amy Winehouse: The Day She Came To Dingle', this time for the BBC’s Arena, which is premiered today (St Patrick’s Day) at the Dingle International Film Festival, and will be screened on BBC Four in July, 12 months on from her passing.

The Dingle Peninsula is a magical place, located on the most westerly tip of Europe. Since 1984 it’s been the home to a wild Dolphin called Fungi, and a whole tourist industry has grown around people who’ve come from far and wide to swim with him, myself included, Fungi seeming to prefer human contact rather than interaction with his own species. The fact that he has rarely ventured from the harbour in all these years is remarkable – wild Dolphins just don’t stick around in one place for this length of time. With a normal life expectancy of 25 years, Fungi is already a grand old age. In the 90’s a bronze sculpture of him was unveiled on the quayside in Dingle.

Dingle Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dingle

0

Shoutout

Just wanted to make you aware of a project my former Invisible Players colleague, Don Letts, has been commissioned to produce, focusing on the clothing brand, Fred Perry, and its cultural relevance in the UK from the Mods in the 60’s to Britpop in the 90’s, and right up to date via their association with Amy Winehouse, whose designs for the brand continue to be released, with the full blessing of her family, following her untimely death last July.

Through the ‘Tell Us Your Story’ website, Don is currently asking for people to come forward with any Fred Perry related footage they may have recorded down the years, whilst you can also submit your photos and share your memories on the site. So if you are, or you know someone who can contribute, the full lowdown is here:
http://www.fredperrytellusyourstory.com/stories/upload

Don, who shines immortal as the DJ that turned the Punks on to Reggae at London’s Roxy (76/77), and who later experienced chart success as a member of Big Audio Dynamite in the 80s, has made numerous films and documentaries since his 1978 debut ‘The Punk Rock Movie’.  He currently presents his twice weekly ‘Culture Clash’ radio show on BBC6 Music.

Don Letts Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Letts

0

Living To Music – Amy Winehouse ‘Back To Black’

ARTIST: AMY WINEHOUSE

ALBUM: BACK TO BLACK

LABEL: ISLAND

YEAR: 2006

This Sunday (August 7th), at 9pm, you’re invited to share a listening session with some likeminded souls, wherever you might be. This can be experienced either alone or communally, and you don’t need to leave the comfort of your own home to participate. Full lowdown here:
http://www.gregwilson.co.uk/2010/06/living-to-music/

Further to last week’s post:
http://www.gregwilson.co.uk/2011/07/amy-winehouse/

I’d planned to feature ‘Back To Black’ a month from now, following on from James Brown’s ‘Live At The Apollo’ – the oldest album to the youngest one was the intention. Now it’s youngest to oldest, Amy Winehouse life ending only five years after Brown’s, who was fifty years her senior. It’s all a case of what ifs now. James Brown was one of the most prolific recording artists of all, releasing around eighty albums. Amy Winehouse only released two (with her record company no doubt readying a posthumous third), so it’s quite a contrast to make.

Fortunately one of those two albums is a classic by any standard, elevating her to the higher echelons despite leaving such a relatively small body of work. ‘Back To Black’ would sell by the million and clean up at the Grammy’s in 2008, scooping five major awards - this marked the high point in her career, the rest was a downward spiral leading to its inevitably tragic conclusion.

Your own memories are always welcomed, and, should you join us for Sunday’s session, it’d be great if you could leave a comment here after you’ve listened to the album sharing your impressions – how the music affected you, who you listened to it with, where you were, plus anything else relevant to your own individual / collective experience.

Back To Black Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Back_to_Black

Living To Music Facebook Event Page:
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=127073100716592

14

Amy Winehouse

Last Saturday evening I was in my hotel room in Ghent, Belgium, trying to catch up on some sleep before a gig there that night. I was awoken by the ringing of the phone, it was someone from the event letting me know what time they’d pick me up to take me for my soundcheck. No sooner had I closed my eyes to grab a couple more hours than my wife, Tracey, called me to break the news that Amy Winehouse had been found dead. Like many others that day I was shocked but not surprised, her death, at just 27 years of age, being something of a self-fulfilling prophecy, many journalists having written her obituary long ago in readiness for this tragic eventuality.

Although she only released two albums, she isn’t out of place amongst the music greats – the excesses of her personal life made her the subject of much media scrutiny, and often ridicule, but you couldn’t deny that voice, not to mention the poignancy of the songs she wrote, songs that weren’t just clever words and music, but had clearly come from direct experience – you knew she’d lived every word and every note, the mark of a true artist. By contrast, I remember that it used to bug me when I went into HMV and looked through the Soul CD's to find Joss Stone, a UK contemporary of Winehouse’s, racked alongside the likes of Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye etc. Soul music, to my mind, isn't a style of music, but something that goes deeper than a mere genre classification, something born of struggle. The songs didn't have to reflect this directly in their lyrics, although many did - it was about the emotion in the performance. It's music brought forth, sometimes torn from the heart - from the soul.

Joss Stone is a talented girl with a fine voice. She's obviously grown up listening to Aretha, and Whitney, and other Soul legends, and has assimilated their vocal style. The marketing people positioned her firmly in this tradition, and her record company brought in authentic Soul musicians from back in the day to reinforce her credibility in this direction, her debut album entitled ‘The Soul Sessions’. But this doesn't make her a Soul singer - she's a Pop star who sings in a Soul style. Soulful isn’t something you learn to be, it’s something you either are or you’re not – Stone’s ‘Super Duper Soul’ but a sanitised version of the real thing.

Amy Winehouse, however, very much sung from the soul. I'm pretty sure she understood that in order to find her muse she had to open up the darker corners of herself. Drugs and alcohol were central to her story, only recently she made a sad spectacle of herself in Belgrade, the great singer reduced to an incoherent wreck before an increasingly irked audience who'd paid their money and expected a performance. They got one, just not what they'd bargained for. Instead they witnessed the swansong of a turbulent artist whose destructive brilliance eventually extracted its toll.

As they say, she lived fast and now she's died young - her legend is assured, and she takes her place alongside Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain, all of whom also left this mortal coil at the same age of 27. The press quickly picked up on this fascinatingly morbid fact, but there’s no hyperbole here, for Amy Winehouse was one of the few artists of the modern era who can be spoken about in the same breath as the aforementioned icons.

Just a few minutes after my wife had phoned to break the news to me she called back. If I'd have been with her I'm sure she'd have fitted the description 'she looked like she's seen a ghost' - I could immediately hear it in her voice. On telling my son the news, in-between the two calls to me, he exclaimed 'Oh my God Mum, that phone call', and with those words a chill went right through her. Earlier that day someone had called on the landline, Tracey thought it was an old lady because she sounded fragile and frail. She was extremely distressed, sobbing uncontrollably, not able to get her words out. Tracey, naturally, tried to find out who she was or who she wanted to speak to, to which she kept saying 'Amy, Amy'.  Not knowing anyone named Amy, Tracey told the caller that they must have a wrong number, and they put the phone down, but she was concerned enough by this woman’s obvious anguish to check the number she'd dialed from, which turned out to be withheld. She put it down to either a wrong number or a crank call, and thought nothing of it until my son, who'd been in the room at the time and heard his mother repeat the name 'Amy', made the connection. We've no idea who this was, and it's certainly weirded Tracey out, especially given it happened a number of hours before Amy Winehouse's death had been announced, but at a time, we’ve since been informed, that she already lay dead. No doubt a bizarre coincidence, but a disturbing one at that - if you believe in premonition this was certainly an instance of it.

‘Tears Dry On Their Own’ was my final track that night.

I’d planned to feature ‘Back To Black’ as the Living To Music selection for September. The idea was to have ‘James Brown Live At The Apollo’ in August, the oldest album to date, then follow it up with ‘Back To Black’, the most recent recording selected. However, given the circumstances I’ve decided to switch the order, with ‘Back To Black’ now featuring on Sunday August 7th.

‘For Amy’ – Russell Brand’s eulogy to a friend:
http://www.russellbrand.tv/2011/07/for-amy/

Recording from Ghent:
http://soundcloud.com/10-days-off/greg-wilson-10-days-off-2011/

Back To Black Living To Music Facebook Events Page:
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=127073100716592

Amy Winehouse Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amy_Winehouse

6