Intelligent, evocative, understated, and mature are words that come to mind when describing this 1975 recording. The album is the reflection of a middle-aged woman pondering her present life while romanticizing the past, knowing full well that, in the words of the last song, "We're longing for a simpler time that never was." Written and produced by Leiber & Stoller, and sung in the soft, breathy style of Peggy Lee, the listener is taken through a journey of songs that often evoke a sense of melancholy, even when the lyrical content seems upbeat, such as on "I've Got Them Feelin' Too Good Today Blues." Thoughtful and understated arrangements by Johnny Mandel do a superb job of supporting but never overpowering the lyrics or the vocal style of Lee. Several songs musically evoke what is implied in the title. "Professor Hauptmann's Performing Dogs," for instance, brings to mind sounds reminiscent of the circus. In less skilled hands, musically representing what is lyrically conveyed might not work, but in the talented hands of Leiber, Stoller, and Mandel, it works wonderfully. This is an album where it is apparent the singer, songwriters, and arranger all worked together to make an album worthy of the talents of everyone involved -- they certainly succeeded in that goal.
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AllMusic Review by Michael Ofjord