#1 HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERon 5 October 2010
The majority of Peggy's vast catalog of albums had already been released on CD, so the few that remained to be released were probably not regarded as being among her classic albums. All those had already been released, some more than once. All that said, I've yet to hear a Peggy Lee album that I haven't enjoyed hearing. The two albums here may not be regarded as Peggy Lee classics, but they are both very enjoyable and well worth hearing.
The first album, That was then now is now, originally appeared on vinyl in 1965. Peggy co-wrote the title track, though it wasn't one of the tracks selected for single release. The album shows Peggy's love of the big band and swing music on which she first built her reputation back in the forties, although this album isn't exactly a throwback to those early days. Peggy's music had progressed and you'll notice other influences too. Among the songs, I particularly enjoy I go to sleep, a song that Ray Davies of the Kinks wrote and apparently wanted Peggy to record; it was released as an American single. The Kinks recorded their own version for their 1965 album, Kinda Kinks. I've always enjoyed the Kinks' hits but never listened to their original albums. With songs this good to be found therein, I must rectify that situation in due course. However, there are many other great tracks featured here. Seventh son (a cover of a Willie Dixon song) shows Peggy's love of the blues, while Trapped in the web of love, Free spirits (both released as American singles) and Shadow of your smile (a cover of a classic movie song) are among the other highlights.
The original album contained eleven tracks, but three other tracks recorded at the same sessions are included here before the second album's tracks. Two of those bonus tracks (Stop living in the past, Maybe this summer) were released as American singles.
The second album, Bridge over troubled water, dates from 1970.and is noticeably different from its companion in some ways, but still a great Peggy Lee album. Peggy wasted no time in recording the title track, becoming one of the first to cover the famous Simon and Garfunkel classic, the title of which was allegedly inspired by a bridge in a village in Devon, England. Peggy's version is stylistically not that different from the original, but that's fine by me. Like the other famous songs here (Always something there to remind me, Raindrops keep falling on my head, both written by the Bacharach-David team), Peggy's version is just different enough to keep it interesting while paying respect to the original. As on the companion album, Peggy shows her love of the blues on this album, this time via a cover of The thrill is gone. A blues standard most commonly associated with B B King, I first came across the song in the early eighties on a Barbara Mandrell album. (I knew somewhat less about blues music in those days than I do now.) It's a great song whether done as a straight blues song or recorded to appeal to a different audience. From the opening track (You'll remember me) to the closing track (What are you doing the rest of your life), this is another fine Peggy Lee album.
I love both of these albums, even although I may love some of Peggy's albums more than I love these two. They may not be the best albums that Peggy ever recorded, but I doubt that anybody hearing these albums without having heard any of Peggy's other music would be put off. If you are only a little bit interested in Peggy's music, you might buy this anyway if you particularly like the song selection or if you find it at a bargain price, otherwise you might choose a different Peggy Lee collection. If, like me, you are a huge fan of Peggy's music, this is a must-have.