14 Songs, 36 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

The theme of 1961’s Blues Cross Country might be a tad ham-fisted, especially for a singer whose approach to blues was more implicit than explicit. Nonetheless, Peggy Lee sounds like she’s having the time of her life working with a set of arrangements from Quincy Jones, who at the time was quite possibly the hippest man in the business. Among the uptempo arrangements, “Los Angeles Blues” is the most enjoyable, although there's a giddiness to the silly “Boston Beans” that's hard to resist. “Hey! Look Me Over” shows Lee at her brassiest, commanding the stage as a veteran diva. Jones encouraged Lee to be larger than life, but it’s hard to beat her restrained approach to ballads, which deepened with age. The nearly narcotic performance of “Basin Street Blues” brings to mind the blue lights of a back-alley boudoir. Lee’s spiritual affinity for Billie Holiday is illuminated in "The Train Blues” and “Goin’ to Chicago Blues.” The album’s ideal merger of theme and arrangement is “Fisherman’s Wharf,” which embodies the feeling and scent of a seaside fog curling around the pilings of a worn-down dock.

EDITORS’ NOTES

The theme of 1961’s Blues Cross Country might be a tad ham-fisted, especially for a singer whose approach to blues was more implicit than explicit. Nonetheless, Peggy Lee sounds like she’s having the time of her life working with a set of arrangements from Quincy Jones, who at the time was quite possibly the hippest man in the business. Among the uptempo arrangements, “Los Angeles Blues” is the most enjoyable, although there's a giddiness to the silly “Boston Beans” that's hard to resist. “Hey! Look Me Over” shows Lee at her brassiest, commanding the stage as a veteran diva. Jones encouraged Lee to be larger than life, but it’s hard to beat her restrained approach to ballads, which deepened with age. The nearly narcotic performance of “Basin Street Blues” brings to mind the blue lights of a back-alley boudoir. Lee’s spiritual affinity for Billie Holiday is illuminated in "The Train Blues” and “Goin’ to Chicago Blues.” The album’s ideal merger of theme and arrangement is “Fisherman’s Wharf,” which embodies the feeling and scent of a seaside fog curling around the pilings of a worn-down dock.

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