Monday, 22 July 2013

The Doctor's prescription.

It’s been a sad sort of weekend, not least because I was taking a long time to recover following my Friday night out. The conversation with a doctor should go something like this;

Me: “I’ve been feeling ill and tired”

Doctor (Looking thoughtful): “Does this always happen after you’ve been out dancing into the early hours?”


Doctor: “Hmm, I think you may have been overdoing it with the washing, cleaning and cooking – you need to cut down on dangerous activities like that”.

“I see, what about the Ska?”

Doctor: “Very healthy indeed, I’m going to increase the prescription”.

Actually, the reason I was feeling sad, apart from the end of a classic Tour De France, was that I’d been listening to Amy Winehouse’s album, ‘Back to Black’. In fact I wasn’t, I’m not a great fan of that LP, I was listening to the bonus disc that came with my copy – various pared down versions and a couple of demo’s including the original, first demo of ‘Love is a losing game’.

These are all great tracks, very sparse and bare. Just Amy and a couple of musicians, being very understated. Just her talent.

It’s no accident that ‘Monkey man’ and ‘Hey Little Rich Girl’ are there, that they are reggae numbers and that they are so great. They are both mainstays of the Skasouls sets too. Real classics. There is also a really great version of ‘Valerie’, better by far than the more famous Mark Ronson version.

She was such a great talent and in the way of young people, she stole the best of the past, muddled it up and produced something electrifying. It would have been wonderful to watch her grow up – the songs she would have sung.

I remember when I heard that she had died – I was sat in a Lidl’s car park in Hayes, in the middle of a torrential thunderstorm. Wondering why the radio was playing back to back Amy.

At the end of the night, the Skasouls always play ‘You’re wondering now’, with its chorus line ‘this is the end’, also on the Amy bonus disc. Whenever I hear that or ‘Monkey Man’, I always think of her.

And, she would have loved my new hat.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

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