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Black Coffee/Sea Shells

Peggy Lee Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Audio CD (20 Mar 1998)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Universal
  • ASIN: B0000089J8
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 289,543 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two very different albums from Peggy 17 Aug 2003
By Peter Durward Harris #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD
The first album making up this twofer, Black coffee, is typical of Peggy's music – a jazz-pop collection featuring both famous and obscure songs from the Great American Songbook. The first eight tracks were originally released on an LP in 1953 and featured Peggy backed by trumpet, piano, bass and drums. Later, the LP was re-issued with four additional tracks – these are tracks 9 to 12 on this CD. Those four tracks were recorded at a later date and featured similar backing but with vibes and celeste instead of trumpet.
Among the songs on Black coffee, the title track remains one of Peggy's most famous songs despite never having been released as a single, while There's a small hotel i. Perhaps, the best of the other tracks on what can only be described as an outstanding collection – one of Peggy's finest albums. There are several classic songs here, usually associated with other singers, including I've got you under my skin, My heart belongs to Daddy, Love me or leave me, It ain't necessarily so and You're my thrill.
As a total contrast, the other album, Sea shells, is far removed from Peggy's normal style. A harp and a harpsichord provide the musical backing and most of the songs are folk songs. Furthermore, all the songs are slow – no upbeat songs to break the tempo. Some of the tracks are instrumental while the two tracks featuring Chinese love poems are narrated, not sung. The liner notes describe Sea shells as an intensely personal album.
I enjoy many different kinds of music including folk, but even I find that Sea shells is a difficult album to get into. Nevertheless, it is a fascinating album and if you can give it the dedicated attention that it demands, you may find it to be a very rewarding experience.
Even if you only want the Black coffee album, you will find that this is a worthwhile purchase - you can always stop after 12 tracks. For those who can appreciate both albums, this twofer shows just how versatile Peggy Lee was.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
'Black Coffee' is one of the all-time great late night jazz vocal records: it paved the way for the best work of June Christie, Julie London and others; as good as Sheila Jordan's Blue Note 'Portrait' of 1962.

Recorded with her small band in 1953 it was one of the very first sessions to be more than just a random collection of songs--it sets a mood, it is all of a piece, it is thematically coherent. Love, regret, sensuality, loneliness (though also with bits of charm and joy--check that wonderful 'My heart Belongs To Daddy'or 'Under My Skin'!) Four bonus tracks extend the mood, finishing with a breath-taking Rogers/Hart 'There's a Small Hotel'.

But what a bonus with 'Sea Shells', recorded three years later; not a big seller, and not even mentioned in a number of Lee biographies, it is a wondrous, poetic experience: chinese poetry, american folk, nursery songs and rhymes, debussy adaptations, and related originals, just voice and harp and some harpsichord, it resembles nothing but itself, it defies categorisation.

Initially shelved, 16 tracks long, it deserves to be better known. It shares with Black Coffee that it is personal, intimate, ruminative. It is the reflective dawn to Coffee's wee small hours.

You won't always be in the mood for these wildly different sessions; but they are both beautiful in their way, and your heart will be rewarded when you give either of them your ears and time and soul.
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5.0 out of 5 stars two fab albums 13 Jun 2013
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I have both on vinyl and bought this set for a friend.
Black coffee is a lovely sexy bluesy smoky album, sea shells is more a dreamy reflective album, nothing to really sing along to, its not that kind of collection, just beautiful and calm.

I still can't get over the amazing amazon value for two albums that sound great.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Contrasting Pearls: One String Black, One Strand White 5 July 2006
By Mark D. Prouse - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
The first album here, BLACK COFFEE, is representative of the Peggy Lee most listeners are familiar with, and it is available as a CD by itself, at a more affordable price. One of her very best albums, it is also one of her most purely jazz oriented efforts. Featuring Peggy's understated vocals in a small combo setting, I consider these performances to be "Essential Peggy Lee." There isn't a throwaway in the pack, including the four songs that were later added to the original BLACK COFFEE album.

SEA SHELLS is a little-known album of folk music. Strange to hear "the female Sinatra," as she's been called, do folk songs, and this is not an easy record to love, even for folk fans like me. It does, with patience (because there are no uptempo tracks here), reward repeated listening. Some of these musty old songs benefit from Lee's hushed reading. "White Birch And The Sycamore" and "Nine Thorny Thickets" are especially lovely. The arrangements are sparse; a couple of the "songs" are spoken (there are a couple of Chinese poems), and some are brief instrumentals. This record created a mood that stuck with me for a long time after I first listened to the entire album; my SEA SHELLS record was originally bought used, and is fairly beat up, so the pristine sound quality of this CD is most welcome. Of all Lee's records, this one sounds the most like Peggy singing to me in my living room, with her soft, intimate tones complimented by harp strums and delicate flourishes of harpsichord. Most unusual.

Because the first album is a 5-star essential, I can't give this collection anything less than that. Honestly, though, because of its limited appeal and its glacial pace, SEA SHELLS by itself would only get two, or three stars at most. If you are a major Peggy Lee fan who has somehow managed to get through life without hearing BLACK COFFEE, and you are curious about SEA SHELLS, by all means buy this collection!
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two very different albums from Peggy 17 Aug 2003
By Peter Durward Harris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
The first album making up this twofer, Black coffee, is typical of Peggy's music - a jazz-pop collection featuring both famous and obscure songs from the Great American Songbook. The first eight tracks were originally released on an LP in 1953 and featured Peggy backed by trumpet, piano, bass and drums. Later, the LP was re-issued with four additional tracks - these are tracks 9 to 12 on this CD. Those four tracks were recorded at a later date and featured similar backing but with vibes and celeste instead of trumpet.
Among the songs on Black coffee, the title track remains one of Peggy's most famous songs despite never having been released as a single, while There's a small hotel i. Perhaps, the best of the other tracks on what can only be described as an outstanding collection - one of Peggy's finest albums. There are several classic songs here, usually associated with other singers, including I've got you under my skin, My heart belongs to Daddy, Love me or leave me, It ain't necessarily so and You're my thrill.
As a total contrast, the other album, Sea shells, is far removed from Peggy's normal style. A harp and a harpsichord provide the musical backing and most of the songs are folk songs. Furthermore, all the songs are slow - no upbeat songs to break the tempo. Some of the tracks are instrumental while the two tracks featuring Chinese love poems are narrated, not sung. The liner notes describe Sea shells as an intensely personal album.
I enjoy many different kinds of music including folk, but even I find that Sea shells is a difficult album to get into. Nevertheless, it is a fascinating album and if you can give it the dedicated attention that it demands, you may find it to be a very rewarding experience.
I notice that the Black coffee album has been made available on a CD by itself. You may find that to be a more suitable purchase, especially if you don't like folk music. For those who can appreciate both albums, this twofer shows just how versatile Peggy Lee was.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sea Shells is a minor masterpiece! 17 Mar 2013
By Raymond Dooley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
It's true there is no accounting for taste. I am not really a fan of folk music, but I am a fan of the many and great artistic choices that Peggy Lee made throughout her career. This is one of the greatest, in my opinion. I love this album. If you find it available, buy it, try it. See for yourself.
5.0 out of 5 stars What a surprise! 9 Jan 2014
By Janet F. Denk - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I've enjoyed "Black Coffee" since the 1950s, when it was on an 8" vinyl record. Sea Shells is an unexpected pleasure--haunting and engaging.
7 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A jazz vocal masterpiece!!! 30 Sep 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Simply one of the best jazz vocal albums ever recorded. Highly recommended!
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