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Rated 5 out of 5 stars
A pairing made in heaven
Long before she became known as a sultry bombshell with 1958's smash hit Fever, Peggy Lee had practiced her sexier side with Benny Goodman on hits such as Why Don't You Do Right. Lee received her big break in 1941 when Benny Goodman heard her sing; his vocalist Helen Forrest was about to leave his band, and he was looking for a replacement. A few days later, Lee recorded Elmer's Tune, the first track on The Complete Recordings 1941-1947. That same year, several more of Lee/Goodman's arrangements went on to be hits, including I Got It Bad and Winter Weather. The Complete Recordings gathers 38 tracks by Lee and Goodman, despite the fact that Lee married Goodman's guitarist Dave Barbour and took a year off, returning to work on her solo career with Barbour (in 1945, she signed a solo contract with Capitol). 32 of the tracks were recorded between 1941 and 1942 and displayed Peggy Lee's widening range to perfection, from blues (Blues in the Night), ballads (How Deep is the Ocean?, How Long Has This Been Going On?, When the Roses Bloom Again, Where or When, The Way You Look Tonight), holiday tunes (Winter Weather), uptempo numbers (Let's Do It, The Freedom Train), and everything in between. It's amazing to hear how she matures from that first jittery performance on Elmer's Tune to the confident vocalist she'd become. The remastering has produced a crisp, clear sound, and the discs are printed to look like the old vinyl labels that Columbia's used with Frank Sinatra reissues. The excellent liner notes are by the incomparable Will Friedwald, who writes for all the Sinatra Columbia / Capitol reissues and releases, and include rare photos and a complete list of original catalog numbers, recording dates, and studio personnel. This is a fabulous investment for fans of Big Band (Goodman in particular) and Peggy Lee, but any fan of the Great American Songbook and music of the 1940s will find much to enjoy here.