Peggy Lee's style is not to everybody's liking, and I will admit that it took a while to grow on me, but I've now got over twenty of her CD's, most of them twofers or doubles, so I'm firmly committed now. This album, which I'm surprised to see has no previous review posted, is a great (but not the absolute best) example of Peggy's music. This set contains a mix of songs that is typical of Peggy's repertoire, including songs from the Great American Songbook (on this set, generally not the well known ones) and more contemporary songs. The album opens with the upbeat A lot of livin' to do. There is a well-balanced mix of uptempo songs and ballads, all of which Peggy sings extremely well, including great covers of Unforgettable and The boy from Ipanema. To understand what Peggy Lee does to a song, just listen to her exquisite version of I can't stop loving you. This classic was written by country singer Don Gibson and was a country hit for him. More famously, it was covered by Ray Charles, who had a number one hit in both Britain and America with it. I've heard many versions, male and female, but Peggy stamps her own identity on it, slowing it down and sounding very seductive. Of all the singers who ever covered this song, Peggy is the one who most deserves to get her partner back, based on the way she sings the song...
Two of Miss Lee's best, but most underrated albums from the mid-60s. Superb arrangements, many of them 'head' arrangements cooked up by Lee and her musicians in the studio. The odd dud (I always skip her rock/gospel attempts) but track after track is sublime: Boy From Ipanema, Talk To Me Baby, In the Name of Love, When In Rome, I've Got Your Number, Little By Little all swing infectiously. Of the ballads Unforgettable, I Can't Stop Loving You and the ravishing, gorgeous Senza Fine are stand-outs in Lee's restrained, almost-whispered style. Who was it who said she sounds like she is breathing secrets in your ear? There aren't many albums from this era that sound as timeless and undated as these.
I bought the original LPs (in mono) when they were first released, and was pleased at the prospect of updating them on this double release remastered stereo CD.
I was not disappointed. The sound quality is more vibrant and natural, adding new dimensions (other than just the excellent stereo) to the overall sound - especially to Peggy's voice which has a new fresh lightness especially on the 'In the Name of Love' album which originally had suffered from sounding a little heavy.
Nobody, but nobody has the rhythmic drive of this lady. While other singers seem to catch a ride on a swinging big band, this lady DRIVES the sound relentlessly forward, an amazing feat of skill from a seemingly gentle, but precisely placed voice. Whether she has a big band at her command, or her intriguing trademark 'kitchen sink' percussion backing (seemingly formless, but she makes perfect sense of it), she gently whips them into shape with just that voice and her exemplary experience.
As for the ballads, she can't be beaten. Her timing is impecable, and she is never afraid to hold back and place the voice with extraordinary effect and natural good taste.
If you haven't heard these albums, now is the time to buy the CD, you won't be disappointed.