Label: Pure Pleasure / Capitol – PPAN ST386 – 180 Gram Virgin Vinyl – Capitol ST-386
AAA 100% Analogue – Mastering by Kevin Gray – Pressed at Pallas
100 Recommended All-Analog reissues Worth Owning – Michael Fremer – Analogplanet 2019
Peggy Lee was three decades into her career by the time of this 1969 classic, one of the best-selling albums of her incredible career. She definitely could still bring it. Every tune here is a keeper, including a remake of Lee’s own 1940 hit “Don’t Smoke In Bed” as well as covers of George Harrison’s “Something,” Neil Diamond’s “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show” and Randy Newman’s “Love Story.” But the real treasure is the title track, a Newman arrangement of a Leiber & Stoller song.
Peggy Lee (May 26, 1920 – January 21, 2002) was an American jazz singer and songwriter. She was famous for her “soft and cool” singing style, which she is thought to have developed in response to noisy nightclub audiences.
Lee was born Norma Deloris Egstrom in Jamestown, North Dakota. After her mother died her father remarried and her stepmother was very cruel to her. So she left home, and in 1941, she joined Benny Goodman’s band—then at the height of its popularity—and for over two years toured the United States with it. In early 1942, Lee had her first # 1 hit, “Somebody Else Is Taking My Place,” followed by 1943’s “Why Don’t You Do Right?,” which sold over a million copies and made her famous.
She is most famous for her cover version of the Little Willie John hit “Fever” and her rendition of Leiber and Stoller’s “Is That All There Is?”
Lee was nominated for twelve Grammy Awards, winning Best Contemporary Vocal Performance for her 1969 hit “Is That All There Is?” In 1995 she was given the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
When Peggy Lee became well-known in the 1940s, swing and jazz-influenced pop dominated the musical landscape. In the 1960s, however, it was a whole new world in popular music. The British Invasion and Motown — not big bands — were mainstream, and to the Baby Boomer youths of the 1960s, Lee was part of “our parents’ music.” But the singer had a major hit with 1969’s Is That All There Is?, one of the best-selling albums of her career. While this isn’t a rock album per se — Lee’s foundation was still jazz-influenced pop — it acknowledges pop-rock tastes of the 1960s without being unfaithful to her history.
Everything on this LP is a gem, and that includes a moody remake of Lee’s 1940s hit “Don’t Smoke in Bed” as well as classic arrangements of George Harrison’s “Something,” Neil Diamond’s “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show,” Leiber & Stoller’s “I’m a Woman,” and Randy Newman’s “Love Story.” The LP’s centerpiece, however, is Newman’s hit arrangement of Leiber & Stoller’s title song, which was covered by P.J. Harvey in the 1990s. Influenced by German cabaret, this half-spoken, half-sung treasure is as hauntingly soulful as it is maudlin. The song’s outlook is far from optimistic; essentially, it’s saying that we might as well grab our moments of pleasure and enjoyment where we can find them because ultimately, life is nothing more than a meaningless series of disappointments.
But there’s nothing disappointing about Is That All There Is?, an LP that is most certainly among Lee’s finest accomplishments.
There are no reviews yet.