Saturday, January 12, 2008

The top 10 albums of 2007: No. 9

Amy Winehouse
Back to Black

They say art imitates life, but in Amy Winehouse's case, it could be the other way around. The besieged heroine of Back to Black has become her public face.

"They tried to make me go to rehab"

In August, Winehouse did a stint in rehab and postponed a tour of the U.S. and Canada.

"I told ya I was troubled"

In late August, Britain's Daily Mail published photos of her and husband Blake Fielder-Civil bruised and bleeding. Winehouse blamed herself for their scrap and said he had saved her life. She also made it a point to defend Fielder-Civil in a series of text messages with celebrity blogger Perez Hilton. In one that the newspaper obtained, Winehouse was quoted as saying, "I was cutting myself after he found me in our room about to do drugs with a call girl."

"I cheated myself
Like I knew I would"

Winehouse started November off with a disastrous performance of "Back To Black" at MTV's Europe Music Awards in Munich, Germany, preceded by a baffling acceptance speech.

Later that month, she bombed in Birmingham and in London. In the former show, she stumbled around and cursed and threatened audience members booing her. A music critic from the Birmingham Mail wrote that he saw "a supremely talented artist reduced to tears, stumbling around the stage and, unforgivably, swearing at the audience." In the latter show, at the capital's Hammersmith Apollo, NME reported that she took the stage 45 minutes late, appeared trashed, frequently left the stage and ditched the show in the middle of the encore. Many concertgoers booed, walked out or demanded their money back.

"You love blow, and I love puff"

Citing cocaine use (along with crack and heroin), Giles Fielder-Civil, Blake's old man, called out Winehouse and his son in late August, telling BBC radio, "Clearly, they are addicts."

In mid-October, Winehouse, Blake Fielder-Civil and a third person were arrested in Norway after a tip to police that they were toting marijuana. They each paid a fine of $715 and were released. Now Winehouse is appealing the fine.

"If my man was fighting
Some unholy war
I would be behind him"

In November, a London judge ordered Blake Fielder-Civil held in jail on charges of witness tampering in his forthcoming trial. He's accused of assaulting a bar owner in June, then trying to pay the man to keep quiet about it. With him in jail, Winehouse canceled all live and promotional appearances for the year.

In mid-December, Winehouse joined him in police custody, allowing herself to be placed under arrest on suspicion of attempting to interfere in his case. She soon was free on bail, with a hearing scheduled for March.

In my review of Back to Black, I likened the album to a Greek tragedy, with Amy Winehouse in the lead role. But that would be mere art.

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