No great claims need to be made for these two mid-period Capitol albums by the honey-voiced Peggy Lee, the first from 1963 when she was 43, the later recording from 1972. Peggy is in peak form, as languid and downright sexy as ever, in an almost absurdly eclectic selection of songs.
It`s instructive to listen to her voice when tempted to overpraise some of today`s would-be chanteuses. Peggy effortlessly exudes class, seldom raising her murmourous tones above a natural, mic-friendly level. She simply sings, as she always did.
She was one of the first (and indeed few) singers of her kind to cheerfully embrace post-Beatles pop songs, some of which are here. Her cover of the much-recorded A Song For You, by Leon Russell (which must have put his kids through school) can stand alongside arguably the finest version I`ve heard, by Ray Charles.
One or two songs on the first album don`t sound quite as compelling as perhaps they should, with contrary arrangements that seem to work against the song, but I`m not going to say which ones as other listeners will no doubt disagree, which is as it should be. Besides, Peggy obviously loved to gently wrongfoot her fans, bucking trends and refusing to be pigeonholed.
A highlight, again from the Norma Deloris album, is It Takes Too Long To Live Alone, a wry, perfectly sung mid-tempo ballad on which Ms Lee sounds like she knows exactly of what she speaks. It`s followed by a dramatic reading of Superstar, the Leon Russell/Bonnie Bramlett song, all brass and crashing drums, through which Peggy`s voice sounds pleading and genuinely hurt.
Then comes the classic Just For A Thrill - another song Ray Charles made his own back in the day. Her singing is faultless. When wasn`t it?
A comfortable The More I See You segues into the closing I`ll Be Seeing You in intimate style, closing this underrated album on a seductive high.
It may well be that I`m A Woman is the better known and liked of these two albums, but there are rewards as great to be had on the later one as on the `63 record. If anything, it has a coherence for which the earlier one occasionally strains.
One more thing. It must have surely been Peggy`s singing of There Ain`t No Sweet Man (That`s Worth The Salt Of My Tears) which inspired redoubtable folk matriarch Norma Waterson to record her equally excellent version some years ago. It all comes around...
This bargain 2-LP/1-CD reissue is yet another Peggy Lee must-have. She`s one singer who never lets you down.
The queen died ten years ago. Long live the queen.