Peggy Lee's Ultimate Christmas  Lovingly Curated By Granddaughter

There's still time to order online this double LP set curated with love by Lee's granddaughter Holly Foster Wells—or if your local vinyl emporium has a copy—pick it up "live". The 22 song compilation of course includes ten tracks from Lee's Christmas album Christmas Carousel (1960), but it also features songs from her earlier Decca catalog along with "Peace on Earth" from the Disney animated classic "Lady and the Tramp", and a pair of duets with Bing Crosby. Six of the album's songs were written or co-written by Lee.

The stereo tracks from Lee's Capitol album with orchestra arranged and conducted by Billy May sound as outstanding as you might expect a Capitol record from that era to sound. The others have been well-restored and sound fine. The annotation by Wells and Iván Santiago-Mercado author of "The Peggy Lee Bio-Discography" lets you know that Lee was a genuine Christmas partier and not someone who issued a Christmas record "just because"—Lee even sewed outfits for a life-sized nativity scene and often did the cooking for her many guests that included Carol Burnett, Tony Bennett (shown singing at a 1982 Christmas party in Bel-Air), Jackie Gleason, The Fifth Dimension, and Rudolph Nureyev. To drive the "hominess" of the whole thing, there's a photo of Lee ironing prepping for a 1970's era party.

Each song gets an informative capsule as to source and some information that only a family member could or would provide—like the note under "The Little Drummer Boy" in which Lee (born Norma Deloris Egstrom) is quoted as saying she liked the song when in 1965 she recorded this version, but by 1990 she admitted she no longer liked the song.

Three sides of Christmas commercial merriment give way on side four to more serious fare, beginning with "The Little Drummer Boy" and especially a "Song at Midnight", originally a 1949 Capitol single with orchestra arranged by then husband and jazz guitarist Dave Barbour (they divorced in 1951)—the annotation for which provides information that might help explain Lee's insistence on seasonal merriment. As a child her home on the North Dakota plains burnt down during a late December blizzard. More tragically, a possible reconciliation with Barbour was cut short when he died suddenly in December of 1965. The album ends with "Here's to You", a Lee co-written song recorded live in 1968 in performance at New York's famous Copacabana.

The sound, of course cut from a digital compilation, is equalized to bring warmth to the proceedings and you won't have any complaints about it. Event the double 120g LP, probably pressed at URP was flat and quiet throughout.

So Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Kwanzaa and eff "Season's Greetings".

DrWatson's picture

Is there a page that describes the dial levels or is it simply the higher the better? What can be differentiated between say a sound 8 and a sound 6?

Thanks Joe (aka DrWatson) ;)