I think the first time I saw Peggy Lee was on a 1981 TV special called Peggy Lee Entertains. I can remember looking for something to listen to in Our Price Records and not being able to find anything except a couple of compilations and two Polydor albums, Live in London and Peggy. In retrospect, they weren’t the obvious place to start but I loved them at the time and still do. Both have just been glossily reissued by Universal with bonuses including that very same TV special.
With this release, Lee’s album discography is now more or less complete on CD so, to celebrate, here’s a track from that first LP I bought. Her original 1952 recording of Lover, in an arrangement conceived by Lee herself and realized by Gordon Jenkins, is a classic. She had to fight to record it (more here for those of you who enjoy a scholarly article) but the results were a major vindication of her instincts. This 1977 remake isn’t quite in the same league but it’s huge fun – not least because of Lee’s palpable joy at revisiting he earlier triumph.
Peggy was sandwiched between Mirrors (depending on your view, an artistic triumph or a tiresome curio) and Close Enough For Love (which includes a disco version of Just One Of Those Things that should be avoided at all costs). After that 1978 recording, Lee’s albums become something of a mixed pleasure since her voice deteriorated so much in the ten years between Close Enough.. and its belated 1988 follow up Miss Peggy Lee Sings The Blues. Peggy is perhaps the most ‘traditional’ sounding of her 70s studio recordings (despite including tracks associated with Peter Allen, 10cc and Neil Sedaka alongside the standards and Lee’s own compositions) and perhaps holds up all the better for that. The original version included synths on a couple of tracks which have been removed for the reissue – while highly informative notes by the sessions’ producer, the late Ken Barnes, have been added. Well worth checking out if you want to hear Peg in her late prime.