Archive for the ‘Peggy Lee’ Category

Peggy Lee

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

Listen: Fever / Peggy Lee PeggyLeeFever.mp3

Ever driven through the eastern tip of Maine and up to Nova Scotia? It’s like Norway. And if you haven’t been there, well they’re all basically greener and cleaner than anywhere else. Nova Scotia is particularly another world onto itself. An oasis of cool, almost fall-like weather in August, amongst many other exotic things.

Do the drive sometime, with absolutely no plan in place, stop and flop wherever. The bed and breakfasts are mindblowing. Family friendliness, spotlessly clean, overly comfortable, they’re heaven. And the food – be ready – you will over eat, happily. For some real fun, fire up the scan function on the FM wireless, something called a radio that was popular during the last century and interestingly still in most cars. Our scan gives you a ten second soundbite per station. That means they have exactily ten seconds to stand and deliver or it’s ‘next’.

To their credit, the things you’ll hear are shocking. Remember, this is Canada, and they generally tend to be a bit more English in many ways. Through the years, lots of the UK acts got exposure and traction there, hence into the Canadian charts they went. Now, the most unexpected songs can be found on their oldies stations. I like this.

Then there’s the AC stations – absolutely fascinating time warps. Even more bizarre and inviting than those oldies formats. Believe me, that ten second scan function will have you amused for hours.

Peggy Lee’s rendition of ‘Fever’ is certainly a well known classic, you don’t need me to let you know that bit. But have you heard it lately? Wow. When it came on, it sounded truly fantastic.

Standing out like nothing I can describe, the production and arrangement brought me right back to her live performance. I was lucky enough to get tickets for one of Peggy Lee’s last New York performances in the 90′s, at The Rainbow Room in Rockefeller Center, where she performed in a wheelchair. Didn’t matter. She blew everyone away.

All the lights went dark, and I mean pitch black, for ‘Fever’. The audience was ready, and religious. A single, intense, perfectly precise spotlight lit her snapping fingers as the extra long intro teased the crowd up to that first lyric. Sparsely lit throughout, beams highlighting just the right musicians, their musical body parts and instruments throughout. The visual direction was a work of art.

Listen to the song, your imagination won’t need to work hard to envision what went down. I really hope you all got to see her live too.


Colin Blunstone

Friday, April 10th, 2009

Misty Roses / Colin Blunstone

Listen: Misty Roses / Colin Blunstone ColinBlunstoneMisty.mp3

I still obsess about missing the US tour by The Zombies / The Nashville Teens / The Hullaballoos. I lived in a wrong city – one the tour did not play. Long before ODESSEY & ORACLE was recorded, Colin Blunstone established his greatness in my world. The very first Zombies single, ‘She’s Not There’ tells all. Every song that ever followed was instantly recognizable because of Colin Blunstone’s other worldly voice. In hindsight, Colin was – still is – one of the greatest interpretive singers of all time. Up there with Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, Scott Walker, Dusty Springfield – name anybody and he will stand equal. If not for him, would Rod Argent’s great songs have succeeded as they did? Who else could do justice to ‘Time Of The Season’?

Mercifully, years later, Rod reconnected with the struggling Colin to spin their partnership together into a dazzling and deserved business – going as far as to reform The Zombies for ODESSEY & ORACLE in it’s entirety. Sharing some of that songwriting wealth to the voice that made it all valuable, Rod will now be allowed into heaven.

Once The Zombies dissolved, and Colin abandoned his three single career as Neil MacArthur, he was back to being Colin Blunstone. Signed to Epic in 1971, he began releasing a series of under appreciated albums. A few spawned the occasional hit in the UK but not here. His version of Tim Hardin’s ‘Misty Roses’ was issued as the US B side to ‘Caroline Goodbye’. How lucky for those owning it. Just listen.

In ’72, he toured The US. Epic made a bit of effort, and presented him at a college radio convention showcase I got to attend in Washington DC. It was stunning. No idea who was in the band, but his voice and persona alone filled the room. Magnificent.

Wonderful / Colin Blunstone

Listen: Wonderful / Colin Blunstone ColinBlunstoneWonderful.mp3

I heard ‘Wonderful’ on BBC’s Radio 1 just before leaving England to return home after an extended London stay in ’73. It was one of the last singles I bought before boarding the plane. The 7″ version clocks in at 3:20, proving the power of editing. I think it works much better than the five minute plus album track.