Artist: Peggy Lee
Genre: Vocal Jazz
Put-it-on-a-Playlist: “Black Coffee,” “Easy Living,” “A Woman Alone with the Blues”
Peggy Lee’s masterful Black Coffee LP finds the sultry, smooth and sexy in undeniably sultry, smooth and sexy form — cutting back on swinging pop and embracing the simple pleasures of being lonely. Torch tunes 101, some call this, but the jazz arrangements are often cordial and affable. Producer Milt Gabler deserves some credit also: love the way that so many of the songs end somewhat sudden and unresolved.
The title tune, a ‘50s hipster favorite — black coffee as hair of the dog, the tragedy of existence in a cup of joe. “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” a perfect counter, bright lights on the dancefloor that spell L-U-V. And “My Heart Belongs to Daddy” is sexy as shit — fish-eating double-entendre as playful innuendo, damn wish I was her “daddy.”
The B-side of the original 12” LP contains Lee’s most moving torch ballads. Imagine Billie Holiday but with a voice you’d want to sleep with. Male or female, Lee’s affectations imbue excitability in all.
Call it the Court and Spark of the early ‘50s. Ms. Lee’s voice is sugar’n’spice that is easy to fall in love with — airy breaths and feathery falsettos. A true masterpiece of both jazz and pop.