Peggy Lee

The Lost 40’s and 50’s Capitol Masters

Collectors’ Choice Music, US
Original release: March, 2008
Wide release: May 27, 2008


In mining the cavernous Capitol Records vaults for very rare — and in some cases previously unheard — Peggy Lee recordings, The Lost ’40s and ’50s Capitol Masters picks up where other praiseworthy CD anthologies left off.

Over the past ten years, Peggy collectors have enjoyed such multi-CD collections as Miss Peggy Lee (1998), The Complete Peggy Lee and June Christy Capitol Transcription Sessions (1998), and The Singles Collection (2002). Through these extensive projects and some valuable single-disc compilations — most notably Capitol Collectors’ Series (1990) and Rare Gems and Hidden Treasures (2000) — collectors have savored hundreds of recordings from the fertile first portion of Lee’s solo recording career (1944-1952), many of them never reissued during the long-playing album era and others entirely unreleased. Following in that tradition, Collectors’ Choice Music, in association with EMI Music Special Markets, releases The Lost ’40s and ’50s Capitol Masters, featuring 39 tracks not found on any of the above releases — nor on any other solo Peggy release from Capitol/EMI.

Of particular interest to collectors are the twelve previously unreleased tracks, including the enduring standards A Cottage for Sale andSomething to Remember You By, along with some slightly less familiar titles that nonetheless have been recorded by many other singers through the decades: I’ve Had My MomentsTrouble Is a ManA Hundred Years from Today; andMusic, Maestro, Please. Other previously unreleased tracks are true obscurities: I Don’t Know What to Do Without You, Baby (co-written by Peggy’s Lady and the Tramp songwriting partner, Sonny Burke); Don’t Give Me a Ring on the Telephone (a Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke song parody); and Pick Up Your Marbles and Go Home (co-written by Steve Nelson of Frosty the Snowman fame).

In addition to the twelve previously unreleased tracks, two songs are heard in previously unreleased alternate versions: Don’t Be So Mean to Baby and Swing Low, Sweet Chariot. Both alternates were recorded three months before the versions that Capitol issued.

Among the collection’s many rare singles are lesser-known songs by such distinguished songwriters as Cole Porter (Climb Up the Mountain); Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke (Sunshine Cake); and Jule Styne, Betty Comden and Adolph Green (So Far, So Good). Although the George and Ira Gershwin song Aren’t You Kind of Glad We Did? was released on a Gershwin CD from Capitol featuring various artists, this is its first official appearance on a Peggy solo CD. Peggy the songwriter is represented by three of her many collaborations with husband Dave Barbour: Don’t Be So Mean to BabyNeon Signs; and That Ol’ Devil Won’t Get Me. Though Barbour was the primary arranger-conductor for these recordings, other sessions were led by Sid Feller, Billy May, Louis Prima, and Pete Rugolo.

The Lost ’40s and ’50s Capitol Masters is produced by Jim Pierson, whose work on previous Peggy projects includes the popular 2004 documentary Fever: The Music of Peggy Lee, available on DVD, and the two-CD compilation of Decca hits and rarities, Classics and Collectibles (2003). While preparing this project, Pierson discovered two 1947 recordings previously unknown to researchers: Love Ye and What’ll It Getcha?

Nicki Lee Foster, Peggy’s daughter, shares reminiscences in the CD’s booklet, alongside liner notes by David Torresen, editor of

Produced by Jim Pierson, all four releases in this Collectors’ Choice series (Make It With You / Where Did They GoThe Lost ’40s and 50’s Capitol MastersAll Aglow Again!Then Was Then, Now Is Now / Bridge Over Troubled Water) will be available exclusively from Collectors’ Choice upon initial release in mid-March, 2008, and available in wider release on May 27, 2008.

Excerpts from reviews

This is a two-CD set of great jazz and pop vocals by a young Peggy Lee, all funky, bluesy insouciance, establishing her firmly in the path that runs between Billie Holiday and Madeleine Peyroux. Lee showcases a repertoire that ranges from back-alley blues (like “Ain’t Goin’ No Place”) to penthouse pop (like “A Cottage for Sale”)…. Through the 39 tracks, Lee stokes the fires that ultimately lead to “Fever,” her late-’50s megahit. If you only know Peggy Lee from her later hits, check out this early material. This lady was a winner from the get-go. — Jack Garner, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

This excellent new two-disc set covers 39 songs from 1944-1952 that have never made it onto any anthology or sampler. They reveal Lee’s deep blues roots […], her ease working with small combos or larger orchestras and her ability to elevate novelty fare and disposable period piece bits into memorable, explosive productions. Lee smoothly handled animated or laid-back compositions, displayed outstanding phrasing and enunciation and covered songs from Irving Berlin, the Gershwins and Cole Porter. It’s rare so much quality music remains obscure, but there’s absolutely nothing disposable or generic about anything included inThe Lost ’40s and ’50s Capitol Masters. — Ron Wynn, Nashville City Paper

Lee is all over the map here, from the Mississippi Delta to Nashville to a boulevard cafe on the Champs Elysees, where the Gypsies used to play…. The real treasures are a group of previously unheard, top-drawer recordings from the mid-’40s, such as “Music, Maestro, Please,” “I’ve Had My Moments,” and “A Cottage for Sale.” It is unimaginable why Capitol Records would have kept these gems in the can for almost 65 years; they are considerably better than a lot of the contempo songs the label did release during these years. — Will Friedwald, New York Sun

Although she could have made a career in any number of niches, the prolific and influential singer-songwriter’s wistful voice cuts across styles. Newly unearthed Lee gems here include the variously hued ballads “A Cottage for Sale,” “I’ve Had My Moments,” and “Music, Maestro, Please”; the gospel-tinged novelty tune “Love Ye”; and a fabulous version of the timeless standard “A Hundred Years from Today.” — Richard Gehr, AARP

Peggy recorded “A Cottage for Sale” in December 1944 at only 23 years old. Her voice sounds so fresh and unaffected. The talent is clearly there, it’s almost like she’s just coming into her voice. Also featured is a wonderful alternate version of “Don’t Be So Mean to Baby,” Lee’s first recording of a song she co-wrote with her first husband, Dave Barbour. The version released here was the first recording, and seems flawless, yet Capitol actually released a version of the song that was recorded three months later…. Peggy Lee had impeccable rhythmic timing and a voice that could convey the subtle nuances of every song she sang. The Lost ’40s and ’50s Capitol Master puts the spotlight on her tremendous talents as a vocalist and songwriter. — Rebecca Wright, Elastic Pop

Disc One
(recorded 1944 to 1949)

1. Ain’t Goin’ No Place
2. A Cottage for Sale (previously unreleased)
3. Don’t Be So Mean to Baby (alternate version – previously unreleased)
4. Aren’t You Kind of Glad We Did?
5. I’ve Had My Moments (previously unreleased)
6. Swing Low, Sweet Chariot (alternate version – previously unreleased)
7. Trouble Is a Man (previously unreleased)
8. Music, Maestro, Please (previously unreleased)
9. It’s Lovin’ Time
10. Ain’tcha Ever Comin’ Back?
11. It Takes a Long, Long Train with a Red Caboose
12. The Freedom Train (with Johnny Mercer, Benny Goodman, Margaret Whiting and The Pied Pipers)
13. A Hundred Years from Today (previously unreleased)
14. Keep Me in Mind (with Benny Goodman)
15. Love, Your Spell Is Everywhere
16. Love Ye (previously unreleased)
17. What’ll It Getcha? (previously unreleased)
18. I Wanna Go Where You Go Then I’ll Be Happy
19. I Don’t Know What to Do Without You, Baby (previously unreleased)
20. Neon Signs

Disc Two
(recorded 1949 to 1952)

1. A Man Wrote a Song
2. Sunshine Cake
3. Run for the Roundhouse, Nellie
4. The Cannonball Express
5. Don’t Give Me a Ring on the Telephone (previously unreleased)
6. If I Could Steal You from Somebody Else (previously unreleased)
7. Ay, Ay, Chug a Chug
8. Something to Remember You By (previously unreleased)
9. Climb Up the Mountain
10. Pick Up Your Marbles and Go Home (previously unreleased)
11. That Ol’ Devil Won’t Get Me
12. If You Turn Me Down
13. Boulevard Cafe
14. It Never Happen’ to Me
15. So Far, So Good
16. My Magic Heart
17. Telling Me Yes, Telling Me No (with Mel Torme)
18. Shame on You
19. Goin’ on a Hayride