Every side cut by Miss Peggy with the Goodman band from 1941 to 1947, 38 swingin' tracks in all including 10 unissued recordings and an unissued alternate take (of If You Build a Better Mousetrap ). Other songs include Elmer's Tune; I Got It Bad (and That Ain't Good); Let's Do It (Let's Fall in Love); How Long Has This Been Going On?; Winter Weather; Somebody Else Is Taking My Place; My Little Cousin; We'll Meet Again; Full Moon (Nocha de Luna); The Way You Look Tonight; Why Don't You Do Right; How Deep Is the Ocean?; For Every Man There's a Woman , and more. Great notes, photos, remastering, the works!
In 1941, Peggy Lee had just come down from her home state of North Dakota to join Benny Goodman's band in Chicago as a replacement for Helen Forrest
. Lee was young, frightened, and forced to sing the band's songs in Forrest's keys. No surprise, then, that the earliest records in this anthology seem a bit stiff and without commitment. She had not yet narrowed her range nor begun to phrase behind the beat (both á la Billie Holiday
), but the confidence and speed with which she began to form her style are documented here, and it's amazing to hear how quickly she advanced--keep in mind that all but three of these recordings were made in a one year period between 1941 and 1942. And even when her singing lacks interest, there are some stunning arrangements here by Eddie Sauter and Mel Powell. After six months with the band, Lee was flying: the second CD contains gems such as "Where or When" and "The Way You Look Tonight" with the Goodman trio; her hit cover of Lil Green's "Why Don't You Do Right"; a couple of duos with Johnny Mercer
; and three songs from a little-known reunion with Goodman in 1947. By then she was on her own, the Holiday influence was fully assimilated, and her smoky, vibrato-less voice was assured and distinct. --John F. Szwed