The Collectors' Choice label is reissuing a raft of Peggy Lee classics and one very unusual previously unreleased live 1968 gig (2 Shows Nightly, here). Let's Love is among the classics, a disc in which Paul McCartney wrote the lead cut specifically for Peggy. The act was neither gratuitous nor a business arrangement but stemmed from the deep respect McCartney had for the singer, a woman who had not only covered other of his and Lennon's songs beautifully but had also released some of Paul's favorite discs of the day.
Lee is often placed in the pop catalogue, but I'm not sure I agree with this, even though the tradition she followed was, as with Sinatra and Bennett's work, most definitely looked upon as pop. One, the term was a bourgeois pejorative and tends to stick in the craw, but the term itself is inevitably such an uneasy epithet no matter when or how it's used. Nonetheless, by this time, she was decidedly a practitioner, demonstrated in her choice of tracks: work by Melissa Manchester, James Taylor, Bell & Creed, and a great cover of Alan O'Day's Easy Evil, a ditty Hoyt Axton probably wished he'd written and was later nailed by John Kay.
On this LP, Dave Grusin served as producer, co-wrote a cut with Lee, played, helped pick sessioneers (some of the best: Ritenour, Rainey, Christlieb, etc.), and probably had a strong hand in choosing covers by fellow composer-arrangers Mancini, Sebesky, and so on, although Peggy wasn't exactly incognizant of those cats. You Make Me Feel Brand New receives its deserved romantic colorations but here in an extended version, nearly six minutes long, an unusual event in a bed of mostly short and short-ish tunes. Grusin proved a good determinant for the whole affair, even tossing in a striking lead-in ARP line for Sweet Talk, keeping up with exotica spicing up the '74 landscape as disco came tumbling in. In all, Let's Love serves as a good snapshot of the meld of styles of the time, but 2 Shows Nightly aces it, the definitive Lee statement in that realm. Catch 'em both.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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