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Thursday, February 10, 2022

The Best Of Peggy Lee


Guess I'll Go Back Home

The Best Of Peggy Lee
Deluxe 2-Pocket LP
Decca Records Hi-Fi DXB 164

From the inside cover: Logically, the opening track on the first side is one that was among the most popular of her entire career. "Lover is based on an idea I'd been working on for over a year," Peggy recalls. "It was inspired by a film I saw about the French Foreign Legion, in which of course there were many scenes showing large numbers of horses. Have you ever noticed how the trot, the gallop and canter of a horse is simpatico to the feel of a Latin rhythmic beat?"

"It took two sessions before we got the right balance and feeling for "Lover," adds Peggy. "I owe Gordon Jenkins so much homage for the colors he put into his arrangement." Again Peggy careful preparation paid off: the record was a phenomenal seller.

The first side includes one of Peggy's earliest hits as a writer: I Don't Know Enough About You was written with her first husband, Dave Barbour, in 1946. Where Can I Go Without You brings fond memories for Peggy of the late Victor Young: "It was such a thrill to meet this man – and so wonderful to be able to write a song with him. This was our first collaboration." Peggy's travelogue lyrics are beautifully tailored to the simple and graceful melody. The side closes with Ooh That Kiss, which pioneered in the popularizing of the idea it represents: a standard tune with lyrics in English, in a cha-cha rhythmic setting.

Side II includes Mr. Wonderful ("How well Sy Oliver writes for strings!" comments Peggy), and three songs by Peggy's friend and collaborator, France (Sonny) Burke: How Bitter My Sweet, written with Don George, Black Coffee, a collaboration with Paul Francis Webster, and The Siamese Cat Song, which of course is by Sonny and Peggy, from their delightful score for Lady And The Tramp, with Peggy singing both the cat roles by overdubbing a fifth part. Says Peg: "A little boy I met in New Orleans said to me 'You didn't write that cat song.' I assured him I did. Then he said 'But you weren't that cat singing the song.' And I told him, 'I was both those cats,' And when I said this he immediately, literally, did a back-flip!"

Two of the tracks on this side, by the way, as well as one on Side IV, were made with the small-combo backing that accompanied Peggy on her night club engagements for a while. A couple of leading critics who have blindly neglected Peggy's stature as a jazz singer might do well to listen to the rocking Love Me Or Leave Me, the blues-drenched Black Coffe or the furiously swinging My Heart Belongs To Daddy and search their souls a little. But perhaps it take the presence of such men as Pete Candoli, Jimmy Rowles, Max Wayne and Ed Shaughnessy to bring home to them the obvious fact that a jazz sense always has been deeply ingrained in Peggy.

Side III opens with Victor Young conducting a Marty Paich arrangement of Bauble, Bangles and Beads, moves along to a ballad written by the late Jimmy Dorsey, I'm Glad There Is You, and takes on a jazz texture again for It's All Right With Me, on which the accompaniment includes Lou Levy (a superlative pianist who worked with Peg for several years), Larry Bunker and Max Bennett. Willard Robinson, a veteran ASCAP man (born in 1894) who has long had a mutual admiration society with Peggy, composed the wistful Guess I'll Go Back Home This Summer.

Side IV includes another Burke-Lee production, Sans Souci, and two tracks from Pete Kelly's Blues, in which Peggy played the role of a jaded night club singer of the 1920s. The songs are I Never Knew (this, by the way, has become the lesser known of two tunes by this title; it happens to be the superior song), and He Needs Me, in which the warmth of Peggy's ballad style is touchingly in evidence.

What struck me, aside from the immediate subjective reaction on hearing this album, was the incredible strength of Peggy's personality that make it possible to switch contexts and types of material without any loss of continuity. It is this personality, too, that has enabled her to sweep away the borders that too often separate music lovers into absurdly segregated little pockets; the Las Vegas nightlifers, the Birldand hipsters, the housewife tuning in the morning radio shows, and the musically sophisticated fellow-artists. Almost none among contemporary singers Peggy as cut across these lines to appeal to all factions without compromising her esthetic standards.

Most singers have off days and bad nights; for all of them there are occasions when they din't feel the lyrics, or the old throat was acting up, or the conductor didn't get with it. But Peggy Lee only comes in three convenient sizes: good, better and best. And even if we apply her own firm, inflexible yardstick it must still be concluded that what you hear on these sides is the best. – Leonard Feather.

From Billboard - August 15, 1960: This handsomely packaged, double-fold LP should have strong appeal for Peggy Lee wax collectors. The thrush – now with Capitol – has never been hotter as a nitery attraction. Altho these sides were cut some time ago, they feature some of her best-known items – "Lover," "Black Coffee," "Baubles, Bangles And Beads," "I Don't Know Enough About You," etc. Backing is provided by Victor Young, Sy Oliver and others.

Apples, Peaches And Cherries
That's What A Woman Is For
I Don't Know Enough About You - With Orchestra Directed By Sy Oliver
Where Can I Go Without You
Ooh That Kiss
Mr. Wonderful - With Orchestra Directed By Sy Oliver
Love Me Or Leave Me
How Bitter, My Sweet - With Orchestra Directed By Victor Young
Black Coffee
They Can't Take That Away From Me - With Orchestra Directed By Sy Oliver
The Siamese Cat Song - - With Orchestra Directed By Sonny Burke
Baubles, Bangles And Beads - With Orchestra Directed By Victor Young
I'm Glad There Is You (In This World Of Ordinary People)
It's All Right With Me
Guess I'll Go Back Home (This Summer)
Never Mind - - With Orchestra Directed By Sy Oliver
Swing Low Sweet Chariot - With Orchestra Directed By Sy Oliver
Sans Souci
Love Letters
He Needs Me - With Orchestra Directed By Harold Mooney
My Heart Belongs To Daddy
I Never Knew - With Orchestra Directed By Harold Mooney
You Let My Love Get Cold - With Orchestra Directed By Dave Barbour

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