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Two classic albums from 1969
on 3 May 2005
Peggy mixes contemporary material with older songs on these two album, but whatever she sings, she does it her way brilliantly.
The first album, Natural woman, contains covers of All of a sudden my heart sings (Kathryn Grayson - from the movie Anchors aweigh), Don't smoke in bed (Billie Holiday), Can I change my mind (Tyrone Davis), Dock of the bay (Otis Redding), You make me feel like a natural woman (Aretha Franklin), Everyday people (Sly and the family Stone), Please send me someone to love (Percy Mayfield), Spinning wheel (Blood sweat and tears) and I think it's gonna rain today (Randy Newman). May of these are classic songs but Peggy's often-different interpretations bring a freshness to them.
Peggy also contributed a song of her own, Lean on me, which you must not confuse with the famous Bill Withers song of the same title. The only other song here, Living is dying without you, is also excellent though I'm not sure who first recorded it.
The second album, Is that all there is, yielded an unexpected American hit for Peggy. It deserved to be a big hit, of course, but Peggy had long since ceased to be a major force on the singles charts so this one came as a huge surprise. Maybe the song connected with the young people of the day in a way that Peggy's other singles didn't.
Possibly the success of the single created pressure for a quick album release - if so, this would explain the inclusion of songs that Peggy had recorded previously, such as I'm a woman, Something stupid and Don't smoke in bed, though at least some of them are re-recordings. Nevertheless, this is also a fine album. It includes covers of Love story (Randy Newman), Me and my shadow (Whispering Jack Smith), My old flame (Guy Lombardo), Brother love's travelling salvation show (Neil Diamond), Something (George Harrison) and Johnny (a gender-adapted version of the Randy Newman song, Linda).
While these are not the strongest albums ever recorded by Peggy Lee, they are both of an extremely high quality. Collecting all of Peggy's albums can be an expensive business assuming you can actually find them all, but this twofer is well worth the price.