Peggy Lee

Norma Deloris Egstrom from Jamestown, North Dakota

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Peggy Lee returns to her roots, at least by name and location, with Norma Deloris Egstrom from Jamestown, North Dakota, reminding fans of the name and place on her birth certificate. The album is credited as "produced & conceived by Tom Catalano." Maybe Catalano's conception was the LP title. If he also chose the songs and the arranger/conductor, he didn't really do much different from recent Peggy Lee albums, however. Once again, the collection is a mixture of contemporary material with songs Lee might have sung back at the start of her career in the 1940s. Arranger/conductor Artie Butler employs a studio of jazz-pop session aces like guitarist Larry Carlton, pianist Michael Omartian, percussionist Victor Feldman, and drummer Earl Palmer, then adds horn and string charts at various points. Early-‘70s pop stars like the Carpenters, Elton John, and Leon Russell are evoked in selections like the leadoff track, Lesley Duncan's "Love Song" (most prominently heard on John's 1971 album Tumbleweed Connection), Russell's "A Song for You," and his and Bonnie Bramlett's groupie lament "Superstar," a hit for the Carpenters. While Butler tries for unusual arrangements in spots, there isn't much that Lee can do with such songs that hasn't been done already, and she settles for rendering them in her calm, precise voice. Not surprisingly, she sounds much more at home in the album's second half, when she gets a chance to handle more vintage songs such as Lil Hardin Armstrong's 1939 copyright "Just for a Thrill," and the album comes to a close with a double shot of such nostalgia, combining two 1940s hits, "The More I See You" and "I'll Be Seeing You." Thus, does Lee, in the hands of Catalano and Butler, continue to try to bridge the old with the new, and she continues to succeed modestly. [Norma Deloris Egstrom from Jamestown, North Dakota turned out to be Peggy Lee's final recording for Capitol Records, a label she joined in 1945 and stayed with, except for a five-year stint at Decca, 1952-1957, through 1972.]

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