Frank is the debut studio album by English recording artist Amy Winehouse, released 20 October 2003 on Island Records. Production for the album took place during 2002 to 2003 and was handled by Winehouse, Salaam Remi, Commissioner Gordon, Jimmy Hogarth and Matt Rowe. Its title alludes to the nature and tone of Winehouse's lyrics on the album.
Upon its release, Frank received generally positive reviews from most music critics and earned Winehouse several accolades, including an Ivor Novello Award. Since its original release in the United Kingdom, the album has been reissued in Canada, the United States and Australia. On 18 December 2008, it was certified triple platinum by the British Phonographic Industry, denoting shipments in excess of 900,000 copies in the UK.
Release and promotionThe album was released by Island Records in October 2003 in the United Kingdom, and in the United States on 20 November 2007. The album spawned the singles "Stronger Than Me", "Take the Box", "In My Bed"/"You Sent Me Flying" and "Fuck Me Pumps"/"Help Yourself". The album was reissued in a deluxe edition in the UK on 12 May 2008. This edition includes an eighteen-track bonus disc including rare tracks, remixes, B-sides and live performances. In New Zealand, with the album re-released as a deluxe edition, it debuted at number twenty-six on the week starting 19 May 2008, nearly five years after it was originally released.
Critical receptionFrank received generally positive reviews from most music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 78, based on 11 reviews, which indicates generally favourable reviews. Billboard called the album "stellar" and Winehouse's vocals "wobblier than now, yet still astounding." Allmusic writer John Bush gave it 4 out of 5 stars and called Winehouse "an excellent vocalist possessing both power and subtlety". Nate Chinen of The New York Times lauded her original lyrics and described the album's musical style as "glossy admixture of breezy funk, dub and jazz-inflected soul". The A.V. Club's Nathan Rabin commended its loose, organic songcraft and wrote that it "features languid, wide-open neo-soul grooves and jazzy vamping". BBC Collective writer Matt Walton called it "an honest, refreshingly personal record" and noted its music as "classic jazz crooning dirtied with her other influences – Ben Folds Five, Stevie Wonder and Miss Dynamite". New York Daily News writer Jim Farber commended Winehouse's "brutal honesty" and wrote that it "shows none of the stumble of an artist's baby steps... a remarkably assured debut".
Beccy Lindon of The Guardian described Winehouse's sound as "somewhere between Nina Simone and Erykah Badu... at once innocent and sleazy". Entertainment Weekly's Chris Willman found its musical style reminiscent of Sade. MusicOMH's John Murphy compared Winehouse's vocals to those of Macy Gray and Erykah Badu, while noting her lyrics as "commendably feisty and, as the album title suggests, frank". BBC Online writer Greg Boraman commented on her influences, stating "Amy's influences (Vaughan, Dinah Washington and the more contemporary like Badu et al) are obvious but not over powering and Winehouse has enough attitude, talent and chutzpah to make any comparisons fleeting and pointless". Dan Cairns of The Times commended its "hybrid" sound and called the album "a staggeringly assured, sit-up-and-listen debut, both commercial and eclectic, accessible and uncompromising". The album was nominated for two BRIT Awards and was short-listed for the Mercury Music Prize. It earned Winehouse an Ivor Novello Award. The album was included in the 2006 book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, edited by Robert Dimery.
In retrospective reviews for both Pitchfork Media and Rolling Stone, critic Douglas Wolk expressed a mixed response towards Winehouse's themes and connected them to her public image at the time, writing in the former review, "in the light of her subsequent career, Frank comes off as the first chapter in the Romantic myth of the poet who feels too deeply and ends up killing herself for her audience's entertainment". Adversely, PopMatters writer Mike Joseph stated in his review of its re-release, "What Frank winds up reinforcing is the fact that Winehouse’s success... is based on pure talent rather than good producers or gimmicks". The Washington Post's Bill Friskics-Warren noted most of its content as "sultry ballads and shambling neo-soul jams", while writing that it "more than confirms what the fuss over Winehouse – then just 19 and with a lot fewer tattoos – was originally all about... her attitude and command were already there. And then some". Elysa Gardner of USA Today wrote "The re-release actually shows more range, wit and distinction than Black did... Winehouse fuses her influences with such breezy authority that the songs never sound flagrantly derivative or stale".
- Vocals: Amy Winehouse
- Guitar: Amy Winehouse, Binky Griptite, Thomas Brenneck, Earl "Chinna" Smith
- Harp: Helen Tunstall
- Violin: Perry Montague-Mason, Chris Tombling, Tom Pigott-Smith, Warren Zielinski, Boguslaw Kostecki, Liz Edwards, Mark Berrow, Peter Hanson, Everton Nelson, Jonathan Rees
- Viola: Jon Thorne, Katie Wilkinson, Rachel Bolt, Bruce White
- Cello: John Heley, Joely Koos, Anthony Pleeth
- Alto Saxophone: Andy Mackintosh, Chris Davies
- Tenor Saxophone: Jamie Talbot, Mike Smith, Neal Sugarman
- Baritone Saxophone: Ian Hendrickson-Smith, Vincent Henry, Dave Bishop
- Trumpet: Steve Sidwell, Dave Guy
- Bass Trumpet: Bruce Purse
- Tenor Trombone: Richard Edwards
- Tenor Sax: Teo Avery
- Bass Guitar: Salaam Remi, Nick Movshon, Gregory "Mr Bassie" Jackson
- Rhodes Piano: John Adams, Teo Avery, Amy Winehouse
- Drums: Troy Auxilly-Wilson, Homer Steinweiss, Errol "Crusty" Campbell
- Percussion: Frank Ricotti
- Hand-Claps: Vaughan Merrick, Mark Ronson, Victor Axelrod
- Rhythm and sound effects: The RZA