‘Well, the marketing was fucked, the promotion was terrible. Everything was a shambles,’ said Amy Winehouse to The Observer, reflecting on the recent release of her now-iconic and widely celebrated debut album, Frank.
Winehouse burst onto the mainstream music scene in 2003, releasing the album on Island records having turned the head of just about every A&R in Camden and the country beforehand. Right away, even the album’s title is smart. Frank pays tribute to one of her biggest influences in Frank Sinatra but, is also reference to the direct nature of the lyrics that the young artist penned for it.
Charles Moriarty photographed Amy for the cover of ‘Frank’ and was a good friend of hers. Amy told Moriarty that she conceived the album as a straight ‘jazz/hip hop cross’ and its evident upon a few listens that these genres fuse effortlessly on tracks Fuck Me Pumps and October Song.
A lot of the songs on the album are fuelled by personal experience and sexual desire. The most prudent and raw song of all, for me anyway, is Take the Box. A ballad detailing the painful act of visiting an ex’s house to pack up possessions. She softly sings about ‘The Moschino bra you bought me last Christmas’ and backing singers urge her to ‘Put it in the box’. And it’s details like these that made the album such a unique cross between modern references at the time and that classical jazz sound – a sound that was nowhere near as widely popular as so-called ‘UK jazz’ is today.
Frank was vivid, raw and passionate. At times you feel like you’re there with Amy, feeling every ounce of her sadness and pain. It was clear already, that she was an artist like no other, a talent beyond her years but so in touch with the past and this is the way she should be remembered.