Peggy Lee – Mink Jazz

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  • Mink Jazz finally makes its Hot Stamper debut here with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
  • The vocal naturalness and immediacy of this early pressing will put Peggy in the room with you – more than anything else, it lets her performance come to life
  • These sides are exceptionally spacious and three-dimensional, as well as relaxed and full-bodied
  • “Peggy was, of course, in her element on the slow, seductive songs which were her trademark . . . The musicianship throughout the album is masterful, yet always secondary to Peggy’s lovely voice.”

John Krauss engineered this album, and brilliantly. You know him from many of Julie London‘s best recordings, albums such as Julie Is Her Name, Calendar Girl, Julie… At Home and Around Midnight.

This is some awfully good company if you ask me!

This original Capitol 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 56 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 Mink Jazz 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 1963
  • 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 Mink Jazz

  • 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.


Side One

It’s A Big Wide Wonderful World
Whisper Not
My Silent Love
The Lady Is A Tramp
Days Of Wine And Roses
As Long As I Live

Side Two

I Won’t Dance
Cloudy Morning
I Could Write A Book
I Never Had A Chance
Close Your Eyes
Where Can I Go Without You

5 Star Amazon Review

The very title of the album suggests quality, and that’s what you get here. Peggy plundered the Great American Songbook as usual (often selecting obscure but high quality songs), adding a couple of her own songs (Where can I go without you? and I didn’t find love).

Peggy was, of course, in her element on the slow, seductive songs which were her trademark – just listen to her cover of Days of wine and roses – and which make up most of this album, but what really makes this album sparkle is the variation in pace. For example, on The lady is a tramp, Peggy went uptempo, not by dramatically raising her voice (that wasn’t her style), but by singing more quickly than usual. The musicianship throughout the album is masterful, yet always secondary to Peggy’s lovely voice.

This is a classy album by a classy singer who is sadly missed, but who has left an outstanding legacy in the form of a whole series of brilliant albums. I believe this is the best of the lot, but not by much – there are many others which are close behind. If you haven’t got any of Peggy’s music, this is a great place to start – but after hearing this, you will surely be tempted to buy more.

-Peter Durward Harris

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