Status of her third album’s release still up in the air, while her Back to Black hits #1 on iTunes.
By Gil Kaufman
Like so many legendary musicians who are gone too soon, Amy Winehouse left behind a small but influential catalog. The singer, who died on Saturday at age 27 in her Camden, England, apartment of as-yet-undisclosed causes, released just two albums in her lifetime and was working on a third at the time of her passing.
Her second album, 2006′s international smash Back to Black, immediately shot to #1 on the iTunes album chart over the weekend, where it remained on Monday, along with a collection of B sides from that album, which was at #6 at press time. Winehouse’s lesser-known 2003 debut, Frank, which was never released in the U.S., was at #3 on the iTunes album tally.
Interestingly, an artist that Winehouse is credited with paving the way for, fellow English pop songbird Adele, is sandwiched in between at #3 with her global breakthrough 21.
Further down the list, an iTunes Festival live album from London released in 2007 was at #47 on the albums chart, as fans seemed eager to snatch up any bits of Winehouse material they could find, as evidenced by the reentry of the singer’s biggest hit, “Rehab,” at #12 on the iTunes singles chart. Other singles also made their way back into the top 60, including “You Know I’m No Good” (#35), “Back to Black” (#39) and her beloved cover of the Zutons song “Valerie” (#56).
What those fans likely want to know next is if they will ever hear more music from the troubled singer. Unlike Elvis, Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix and Tupac Shakur, who left behind a varying degree of unused or unreleased material that has been mined, repackaged and remastered for decades, it’s unclear how much unheard music Winehouse had in the vaults.
She had reportedly been working on material for a Back to Black follow-up for the past two years, in sessions that ranged from England to her temporary island retreat of St. Lucia. No release date was ever set for the untitled album and her U.S. publicist told MTV News on Sunday that “there is no information on any new music at this time.”
A number of British tabloids and newspapers provided unconfirmed tidbits about what music may be in the offing, with the The Mirror claiming that the release date for the third album was repeatedly pushed back because Winehouse was “unwilling to produce a less than perfect record.”
The paper also claimed that she’d recorded three albums’ worth of material, while the Daily Telegraph said many of the songs were in “demo stage,” with “a lot” of tunes available to choose from. Her parents will have the ultimate say on when, or if, that music is ever released.
Though she made sporadic, often shambling, live appearances over the past two years, Winehouse is not believed to have performed any new songs at those gigs, though she said in July of 2010 that her third effort would be out by January of this year.
“The album will be six months at the most,” she said last summer, noting that the sound will be similar to the retro soul on Black. “It’s going to be very much the same as my second album, where there’s a lot of jukebox stuff and the songs that are … just jukebox, really.”
Though she didn’t explain what she meant by “jukebox” at the time, Winehouse had reportedly recorded some tracks in St. Lucia with producer Salaam Remi, who collaborated with her on four tracks from Black. She also reportedly re-teamed with producer Mark Ronson for sessions for the in-process album, but the two are said to have clashed over direction and it’s unclear if any songs were completed.
Ronson and Remi were among the many stars who paid their respects to Winehouse over the weekend.