20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Peggy Lee

Peggy Lee

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20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Peggy Lee Review

by William Ruhlmann

The Peggy Lee number in Universal's 20th Century Masters -- The Millennium Collection series of discount-priced compilations provides a good, brief selection of the highlights of the singer's career on Decca Records between 1952 and 1956. Two of her biggest chart hits of the period -- "Just One of Those Things," and "Mr. Wonderful" -- are all included, along with a couple of other chart singles, "Be Anything (But Be Mine)" and "Let Me Go, Lover." Three songs for which she herself provided lyrics -- "San Souci," "The Siamese Cat Song" (from the film The Lady and the Tramp), and "Johnny Guitar" (from the film of the same name) -- give a good indication of her songwriting abilities. "Black Coffee" was the title song from her celebrated 1953 album, her first LP project. "Somebody Loves Me" and "He Needs Me" come from her Top Ten album of songs from Pete Kelly's Blues, the film that earned her an Oscar nomination. And the collection concludes with a re-recording of her 1946 hit "I Don't Know Enough About You," another song for which she provided the lyrics. That adds up to 12 songs, which is less than one-tenth of Lee's output at Decca, but given the limitations imposed on an inexpensive compilation, the choice is unassailable. It should be noted, however, that since the album gives no indication on its outside that it covers only a very brief period in the singer's career, a casual fan might be deceived, not realizing that Lee made most of her popular recordings for Capitol and that they are not included here.

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