Peggy Lee

The Best of the Singles Collection

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Record-buying etiquette suggests that if Peggy Lee's The Singles Collection is overly long (in fact, it's a four-disc box set), The Best of the Singles Collection will then logically include all of her best recordings and become the obvious choice for listeners wishing to test the waters. That's not quite the case, however, and it's mostly due to the fact that, except for early in her career, and at a few points midway through, Lee was not a "singles" artist in the traditional sense of the term. Heavily indebted to pop for certain, she was in fact a jazz singer, a live performer, and though Capitol clearly wanted her on the top of the charts during the '50s and early '60s, the best way to hear her on record was usually through her many fabulous LPs. In fact, only three titles here ("It's a Good Day," "Fever," and "Is That All There Is?") earn notice in the canon of Lee's "greatest hits," so The Best of the Singles Collection shouldn't be considered a standard hits compilation. It's very valuable nonetheless for revealing a surprising number of incredible songs that hadn't been released since their original issue (except, of course, on the release they're distilled from), usually because they dated from the pre-LP era. A trio of 1949-50 recordings -- "If You Could See Me Now," "Once Around the Moon," and "Life Is So Peculiar" -- are elegant, subtle performances with excellent small-group backing that will be revelations to fans who haven't heard them. Also a success is Lee's version of "Something," that quintessential Beatles standard for a generation of jazz singers. The only track to make its debut is a remix of "Fever" by the Italian producers Gabin, in an obvious appeal to the commercial success enjoyed by Junkie XL's remix of Elvis Presley's "A Little Less Conversation." While the duo ably accentuate Miss Lee's sophistication and sensuality with a textured blend of piano and synth chords, the song clearly illustrates that drum programs and jazz singers don't blend well.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 2:31 Spotify
2 2:52 Spotify
3 2:51 Spotify
4 3:09 Spotify
5 3:09 Spotify
6 3:07
7 2:26 Spotify
8 2:39 Spotify
9 2:16 Spotify
10 3:22 Spotify
2:52 Spotify
12 2:08 Spotify
13 2:36 Spotify
14 3:39 Spotify
15 2:48 Spotify
16 2:48 Spotify
17 2:27 Spotify
18 2:18 Spotify
19 3:12 Spotify
20 4:22 Spotify
21 3:03 Spotify
22 4:06 Spotify
blue highlight denotes track pick