Warning: This will hurt, but kindly access your memory banks and retrieve two commercials: "Seagram's golden wine coooolers/They're wet and they're dry/My my my" and that heinous Chili's bit not the faux doo-wop tune but the smoky blues number "Chili's ... baby back riiiiiiibs ..." Got 'em? Good because a sizable chunk of Back to Black, Amy Winehouse's sophomore disc, sounds like those very jingles: white people copping black soul in order to sell booze and ribs. Oh sure, the sassy Brit babe who loves to party tabloid-style has a robust set of pipes, an alleged eating disorder, and sexy lyrics about love gone wrong. Whatever. Songs like "You Know I'm No Good," "Me & Mr. Jones," and "Wake Up Alone" are nothing more than cheap retro-R&B novelties. There's the supper-club rip, the neo-Motown jam, the jazzy Ella thing, and so on which is fine for selling soul food to suburban mall-walkers or for titillating the country that gave us Eric Burdon. But may I suggest you save your hard-earned cash for a deluxe reissue of Etta James at Last!, I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You?, or Diana Ross?
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