Peggy Lee – Sugar ‘N’ Spice

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  • Sugar ‘N’ Spice makes its Hot Stamper debut here with STUNNING sound on both Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sides
  • So hugely spacious and three-dimensional, yet with a tonally correct and natural sounding Peggy, this is the way to hear it
  • “Peggy is in fine voice and brings her sweet feminine tones to her ballads and her salty, seductive sounds to the more uptempo material. The backings are by Benny Carter and feature a compact orchestra with an emphasis on brass.”

This ’60s LP has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern pressings barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back.

Having done this for so long, we understand and appreciate that rich, full, solid, Tubey Magical sound is key to the presentation of this primarily vocal music. We rate these qualities higher than others we might be listening for (e.g., bass definition, soundstage, depth, etc.). The music is not so much about the details in the recording, but rather in trying to recreate a solid, palpable, real Peggy Lee singing live in your listening room. The best copies have an uncanny way of doing just that.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of older recordings (this one is now 59 years old), I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but less than one out of 100 new records do, if our experience with the hundreds we’ve played can serve as a guide.

What the Best Sides of Sugar ‘N’ Spice Have to Offer Is Not Hard to Hear

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1962
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

What We’re Listening For on Sugar ‘N’ Spice

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Ain’t That Love
The Best Is Yet To Come
I Believe In You (from “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying”)
Embrasse Moi
See See Rider
Teach Me Tonight

Side Two

When The Sun Comes Out
Tell All The World About You
I Don’t Wanna Leave You Now
The Sweetest Sounds
I’ve Got The World On A String
Big Bad Bill (Is Sweet William Now)

Amazon Reviews

This set is a gem in the Peggy Lee discography. The lively arrangements and great playing from the small jazz combo are the perfect complement to Ms. Peggy’s smooth-but-expressive vocals.

-J. Dennis

Despite the tacky cover photgraphs and that terrible wig, the contents are pure and fine Peggy Lee at her best. Where some of Peggy’s albums in the 1960’s included much forgettable contemporary material that hasn’t stood the test of time too well, this album features a program of songs that range from contemporary show tunes (“I Beleive In You” and “The Sweetest Sounds”), an excursion into the blues (“See, See Rider”) and the great American song book (“When The Sun Comes Out” and “I’ve Got The World On A String”) plus a few lesser known numbers for good measure.

Peggy is in fine voice and brings her sweet feminine tones to her ballads and her salty, seductive sounds to the more uptempo material. The backings are by Benny Carter and feature a compact orchestra with an emphasis on brass. Of interest here, too, for those familiar with Peggy’s appearance on “The Judy Garland Show” is Peggy’s solo treatment of the novelty “Big Bad Bill” which is a comic highlight. All in all, this is a fine album that should delight the Peg-o-philes among us as well as those who admire this legend to a lesser degree. As a starting point with Peggy Lee, it should be remembered that none of the Lee signature tunes are found on this collection but it does give ample evidence of the lady at her best. This issue also includes three bonus tracks not on the original album.

-Paul A. Tassone

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