Peggy Lee

2 Shows Nightly: Live at the Copa

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This compilation combines a live album by Peggy Lee from a 1968 engagement at the Copacabana that never was officially issued (though promotional copies were shipped) along with singles and unissued material that have never appeared on CD. Lee is confident throughout the live tracks (which also include studio re-creations with fake announcements and applause, due to audio problems with the live versions), singing a few standards but also several then-current pop songs, not all of which stand the test of time. The show tunes stand out for their stronger melodies and lyrics, particularly Richard Rodgers and Stephen Sondheim's "Do I Hear a Waltz" and Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Lowe's "Come Back to Me," while the swinging treatment of "Something Stupid" features the whistling of Toots Thielemans backing the singer. Lee gives her all in the 1960s pop material, succeeding with Buffy Sainte-Marie's tender ballad "Until It's Time for You to Go," though tracks like "Reason to Believe" and "Didn't Want to Have to Do It" come off extremely dated. But her spirited rendition of Joe Williams' signature song, "Alright, Okay, You Win," is another gem. The orchestra backing her also includes pianist Lou Levy (Ella Fitzgerald's accompanist a few years earlier), guitarist Mundell Lowe, flutist Hubert Laws, bassist Ben Tucker, and drummer Grady Tate, among others. Lee also interprets her own songs (she contributed lyrics to a number of memorable songs written with various composers), including the touching "Here's to You" and the rollicking "Hand on the Plow." The studio material is of a similar makeup. The lounge-like arrangement of "(Stay with Me) Stay with Me" is hampered by cheesy electric harpsichord, though she is boosted by Thielemans' whistling in the catchy "Happy Feet (Theme from Walk, Don't Run)." She has some fun with John Sebastian's "Money," though the trio of songs written by the troubled folk artist Tim Hardin prove rather bland. As an artist who refused to be pigeonholed into any one format, Peggy Lee made her mark during her long career, so this long hidden music will have a special appeal to her longtime fans.

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