Sunday, September 25th, 2011
"Back To Black"
Elbow and Lightspeed Champion cover Amy Winehouse
BBCThere’s no shame in being late to the party on certain artists; it’s simply not possible to keep up with everything that’s out there, let alone apply the necessary hype filters to discern what’s genuinely good and what’s just hip noise. I tend to go with the philosophy that if it’s worth hearing, I’ll hear it eventually and if it’s not, then I won’t even know what I missed.
Of course, sometimes you realize it’s worth hearing a little too late. By the time the buzz around Amy Winehouse reached my ears back in 2007 or so, talk about her talent was already inextricable from tales of her offstage antics and addictions, so rather than potentially participate in the tabloid/gossip storm, I declined to even bother giving a listen and missed her one and only Toronto performance at The Mod Club in May of that year. Our paths would have crossed later that Summer as she was one of the big-name undercards for that year’s V Fest but her personal issues continued to grow to the point of having the pull out a couple of weeks before the festival date. There were the usual apologies and assurances that she’d make it up, but of course she didn’t. Amy Winehouse died earlier this Summer as a result of what appears to side-effects of attempting to detox at the age of 27. In the ensuing flood of tributes and remembrances, I finally took the trouble of giving her music a listen and yeah. Clearly I missed out. And clearly I’m going to be one of those adding to the posthumous sales of Back To Black.
The title track of which was covered in stately style by Elbow for a BBC Live Lounge session in June 2008; Elbow are another artist I was slow on the uptake for, only getting on board fully sometime between Leaders Of The Free World and The Seldom Seen Kid, but am now completely won over. I’ve been waiting a long time for them to return to town for their own headlining show with me as a proper fan and they’ll finally do so this Wednesday night at The Sound Academy.
And also offering an interpretation of “Back To Black” in 2008 was Dev Hynes, who at the time was still operating as Lightspeed Champion. I ignored his first band Test Icicles and justly so as they were terrible, but have been a fan of everything he’s done since. His stripped-down, acoustic rendering appeared on the NME Awards 2008 cover compilation which featured covers by artists who appeared on the NME Awards ceremony or sponsored tour that year. Hynes has since put the Lightspeed Champion monicker to bed and now records as Blood Orange, having released his debut Coastal Grooves back in August. He’ll be at The Garrison on October 21 supporting and also playing as part of CANT.