Peggy Lee / George Shearing

Beauty and the Beat!

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Upon its first release Beauty and the Beat! was billed as a live recording from a Miami convention of disc jockeys. Though Peggy Lee and George Shearing did in fact perform there (and attempts were made to record them for later release), the songs heard on the subsequent LP were recorded in the studio and overdubbed with rather obvious canned applause, announcements, and even post-production echo. Lee and Shearing, who had never recorded before, conceived a set of completely new arrangements that played to their strengths: stately blues and effervescent swing. The best of the former comes on a pair of locale-referencing quasi-blues, "I Lost My Sugar in Salt Lake City" and "You Came a Long Way From St. Louis," both of which Lee and Shearing are able to transform into languorous, respectable torch songs. The usually downcast "Blue Prelude" is actually taken at a laissez faire tempo that Lee treats well, and the original set ends with "Get Out of Town" and "Satin Doll," a pair of bemused, affectionate performances that perfectly suit the pair. Lee and Shearing's only collaboration on record -- though both would occasionally perform together thereafter -- is a supremely chilled session of late-night blues from two masters of the form.

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