Decca Records / Universal Music Enterprises
Release date: October 2023
Throughout her long career Peggy Lee’s singing and performing style was praised for its startling intimacy. It’s no surprise, then, that the word “intimate” was used in a title for one of her earliest long-playing albums, Songs in an Intimate Style. For the first time since its 1954 release, and in advance of its 70th anniversary, this album is being presented in digital format so that it can be enjoyed in its original song sequence.
The album features eight songs recorded between November 1952 and September 1953, supported by three of Peggy’s most distinguished collaborators at Decca Records in the 1950s: Gordon Jenkins, Sy Oliver and Victor Young. With Jenkins as arranger and conductor, Peggy scored a major chart hit in 1952 with “Lover,” featuring a hard-driving, Latin-influenced arrangement that was anything but intimate, which could explain its absence on Songs in an Intimate Style. Oliver, whose career began in the 1930s as a trumpeter and arranger with the highly regarded Jimmie Lunceford band, arranged and conducted one of Peggy’s most dynamic albums of any decade, the buoyant and brassy Miss Wonderful, recorded for Decca in 1956.
Oscar-winning film composer Young backed Peggy on several recordings and also co-wrote several songs with her, including two featured on Songs in an Intimate Style: “How Strange” and “Where Can I Go Without You.” While the former song remains obscure, the latter has become one of Peggy’s most frequently covered co-compositions, having been recorded in its first two decades by Nat King Cole, Vic Damone, Dean Martin, Nina Simone, Mel Tormé, and Dionne Warwick, and in recent years by Ann Hampton Callaway and Catherine Russell. Peggy’s original recording enjoyed modest chart success upon its release as a single in early 1954.
As Iván Santiago writes in his invaluable online Peggy Lee discography, “Songs in an Intimate Style was the successor to the ten-inch vinyl version of Black Coffee. Chosen as Songs in an Intimate Style‘s opening track, the hit ‘Baubles, Bangles and Beads’ was probably the catalyst that led to the creation of this song collection. Decca must have wanted to capitalize on the commercial success of that recent hit single, and also on the critical success of Lee’s previous album. The promotional note in the back cover of the Intimate LP states that ‘Peggy’s preceding album, Black Coffee, was acclaimed by her fans and was immediately followed by demands for a new group of Peggy Lee songs. This collection is the answer to that demand.'”
Santiago continues, “The eight songs in this album originate in sessions that were not only held months apart… but also led by three different conductors (Victor Young, Sy Oliver, Gordon Jenkins). And yet, Songs in an Intimate Style still manages to come off as a cohesive collection of beautifully sung numbers, thanks in no small measure to its uniformly romantic mood. Of the eight tracks, seven are love ballads which Peggy Lee renders with a deep sense of intimacy. The eighth number (‘Apples, Peaches and Cherries’) is actually a ballad, too, though in a different mold: a charming folk-style tale of romance.” For more information about this album’s origins, visit the 1954 entry for Songs in an Intimate Style in the album index of Santiago’s discography here.
- Baubles, Bangles and Beads
- That’s Him Over There
- The Tavern
- Apples, Peaches and Cherries
- That’s What a Woman Is For
- Where Can I Go Without You
- How Strange
- Love You So