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Amy Winehouse

Frank (Universal Republic)

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Last year was a hectic one for Winehouse: Back to Black made her a pop star across the planet, she consumed tons of booze and drugs with her douche-bag husband, and several rehab stints didn't pan out (no, no, no). Back in 2003, long before she became a tabloid regular, Winehouse released Frank in her native England. Buoyed by slinky jazz-pop beats, a hip-hop overcoat, and Winehouse's white-lady-sings-the-Billie-Holiday-blues vocals, the album (now available in the U.S.) plays like a working template for the more resilient Back to Black. Producer Salaam Remi (who returned for a few Black tracks) injects Frank with a wistful pang that only occasionally equals the dusty R&B joy Mark Ronson brought to Back to Black. A few cuts — like the sexy-menacing "In My Bed" and catty "F*** Me Pumps" — suggest the jumbled nostalgia that became Winehouse's trademark. But where Back to Black reformed and transformed genres, Frank is a mere shuffle.

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