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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby




Living Era CD AJA 5644



1. Lover
2. Be Anything But Be Mine
3. I`m Glad There Is You
4. Just One Of Those Things
5. Watermelon Weather
6. Sans Souci
7. I Hear The Music Now
8. Where Can I Go Without You?
9. I`ve Got You Under My Skin
10. Black Coffee
11. I Didn`t Know What Time It Was
12. Easy Living
13. Love Me Or Leave Me
14. A Woman Alone With The Blues
15. My Heart Belongs To Daddy
16. Baubles, Bangles And Beads
17. Johnny Guitar
18. Autumn In Rome
19. Love, You Didn`t Do Right By Me
20. The Gypsy With Fire In His Shoes
21. It Must Be So
22. Bella Notte
23. The Siamese Cat Song
24. He`s A Tramp
25. I Don`t Want To Play In Your Yard
26. The Golden Wedding Ring
27. What Can I Say After I Say Iím Sorry?
28. He Needs Me

Subtitled "28 original mono recordings 1952-1955", this collection is a bit of a mish-mash but it nevertheless conveys Peggy Leeís versatility as well as including some of her finest recordings. It opens with perhaps her most memorable hit Ė Lover Ė with its infectiously scurrying rhythm and clattering bongoes. We also get the companion piece, Just One of Those Things, with a similar hustling backing. There are collaborations with Bing Crosby (Watermelon Weather) and the Mills Brothers (It Must be So), plus a heartfelt Love, You Didnít Do Right By Me with mellow alto-sax from Benny Carter.

Jazz fans will be most pleased to find seven tracks from the 1953 "Black Coffee" sessions, with backing from trumpeter Pete Candoli and a rhythm section of Jimmy Rowles, Max Wayne and Ed Shaughnessy. These include the wonderfully emotive title-track and vibrant performances of Iíve Got You Under My Skin and My Heart Belongs to Daddy (both of which I had on a prized 78-rpm disc as a teenager).
Another record I loved was "Sea Shells", on which Peggy was accompanied simply by harpist Stella Castellucci and harpsichordist Gene Di Novi performing some almost folky material. Tracks 25 and 26 come from this album. The CD ends with a couple of fine songs from the 1955 film Pete Kellyís Blues. Altogether, this album supplies ample evidence that Peggy Lee was one of the great singers in a wide variety of idioms, including jazz, blues and ballads. And her voice had a distinctive quality which means that she is always instantly recognisable.

The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz unaccountably omits Peggy Lee, but this compilation proves that she was a great jazz singer as well as a sensitive balladeer. And her voice was one of those unique instruments that are instantly recognizable.

Tony Augarde


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