- Audio CD (May 1, 1992)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Label: Music Masters Jazz
- ASIN: B000007NZ2
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #565,311 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
Peggy Sings the Blues
1. See See Rider (Ma Rainey, Traditional)
2. Basin Street Blues (Clarence Williams)
3. Squeeze Me (Fats Waller, Clarence Williams)
4. You Don't Know (Walter Spriggs)
5. Fine and Mellow (Billie Holiday)
6. Baby Please Come Home (Charles Warfield, Clarence Williams)
7. Kansas City (Leiber and Stoller)
8. Birmingham Jail (Traditional)
9. Love Me
10. Beale Street (W.C. Handy)
11. Tain't Nobody's Bizness If I Do (W.C. Handy),
12. God Bless the Child (Arthur Herzog Jr, Billie Holiday)
Top customer reviews
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In the last 20 years of her life Peggy Lee made only four albums (as against two new originals per year during her Capitol prime 1957-72): LOVE HELD LIGHTLY reviving neglected Harold Arlen "trunk songs"; THERE'LL BE ANOTHER SPRING collecting her song lyrics; and the very lame MOMENTS LIKE THIS frailly revisiting past successes. PEGGY SINGS THE BLUES is patently the best of the four final albums.
Peggy Lee is in better voice, though frail and minimized, than on the other three albums and sounds far happier singing these blues, the deep blues groove befitting her reflective and autumnal mature-hipster credentials. It goes without saying that this brave senior trouper's infallible sense of rhythm, born to the clickety-clack of the Dakota railyards, is absolutely unimpaired. Peggy Lee sang from a wheelchair in her last years and there were audible problems in her breath control, but here the rhythmic vitality and empathetic accompaniment conceal any acute vocal difficulties. The jazz quintet (the overall sound picture replicates Lee's great combo sets with Lou Levy and George Shearing) is led by Mike Renzi from the keyboard, with superior guitar work by John Chiodini. At the time partisan critics diplomatically declared "Peggy Lee hasn't sounded this good in years" when what they really intended was "decades." This is the one genuine keeper among her last four albums and her most convincing work since the extended glory years of her second Capitol contract.
Stuff it. This album is a pleasant surprise. For one thing, Peggy sounds twice as strong as on a recording she made ten years earlier ("Close Enough for Love"); for another, six authentic 12-bar blues is more than Billie Holiday recorded throughout her entire career (how many others can you think of, after "Fine and Mellow"?); finally, she's joined by top-flight musicians, most of them fine vocalists in their own right in addition to their instrumental skills (above all, drummer Grady Tate). Most importantly, the pianist on the date is Mike Renzi, who is simply the best. Period.
Just a caveat or two: who's the unidentified vibes player? Or is it Renzi playing synthesized vibes? Perhaps the one slight miscalulation (out of 12 selections) was Kansas City. Peggy, or whomever, should have been overruled on the inclusion of that overdone, tired-out belter. Finally, why not a duet or two--with Grady, or maybe Jay Leonhart, or maybe both? That certainly could have been the coup de grace, making this a totally winning session, besides adding just a bit more welcome warmth to Peggy's sound on this session (sure, I know it's the blues, but we still want Peggy's intimate charm to envelop and kiss us, just like, for good luck, she kissed her whole band before a performance).
This is the best Peggy Lee album I've heard since 1969's "Is That All There Is?" What Peggy is lacking in power and projection, she makes up for in interpretation and phrasing, not to mention dead-on pitch (including the intentional quarter tones). From "See See Rider" to "Tain't Nobody's Bizness and "God Bless the Child," it's hard to pick a favorite (make it "God Bless the Child"--it's tender, it's real, it's Peggy's life, whether that "child" was Peggy or Norma Delores Egstrom is very difficult to say). I'm tempted to give the session five stars to spite the other reviewer, but that may over-inflate the expectations of those listeners who have yet to hear the best of Peggy Lee from the 40s, 50s, and 60s. Nevertheless, you can pick this one up and enjoy it with apologies to no one. And don't be afraid to turn up the volume.