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A Musical Marriage

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Album Review

This 22-track collection is drawn from Peggy Lee's first solo stint with Capitol Records in the mid- to late '40s, shortly after she left her spot as a singer with Benny Goodman's band in 1943. Lee actually ran off with Goodman's guitar player at the time, Dave Barbour, and the pair were married. When Lee signed to Capitol in 1945 and renewed her singing career, husband Barbour was part of the deal and he appeared on most of her early releases for the label. The pair also developed into a fine songwriting team, penning songs like "That Old Feeling," "It's a Good Day," "Confusion Says," and "(I'm Not Gonna) Let It Bother Me," among others, none of which appears in this set (which covers the years 1946 to 1949). What is here, though, is a selection of 16 tracks with Lee backed by the Dave Barbour Quintet and six tracks with Lee backed by Buddy Cole's Four of a Kind, which just happened to feature Barbour on guitar. Lee's sultry, sassy singing style is on full display, and Barbour reveals himself as a skilled if unsung guitarist, but the sequence as a whole is far from essential, particularly since it lacks some of Lee's most famous songs from her first Capitol stay (she left the label in 1952 to sign with Decca Records and then returned to Capitol for a second go-round in 1957) like "Waitin' for the Train to Come." What's here is fine, but the story of Lee and Barbour's musical marriage could have been told much better with a little extra work.


Born: May 26, 1920 in Jamestown, ND

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Peggy Lee's alluring tone, distinctive delivery, breadth of material, and ability to write many of her own songs made her one of the most captivating artists of the vocal era, from her breakthrough on the Benny Goodman hit "Why Don't You Do Right" to her many solo successes, singles including "Mañana," "Lover" and "Fever" that showed her bewitching vocal power, a balance between sultry swing and impeccable musicianship. Born Norma Egstrom in Jamestown, North Dakota, she suffered the death of her...
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