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The Peggy Lee Bio-Discography:
The A&M Contract (1975)

by Iván Santiago

Page generated on Jul 12, 2021


PRELIMINARY NOTES




The Peggy Lee Look

Above: Peggy Lee in 1975, photogenically posing for the camera in the central picture, and performing for the cameras and the audiences in the two other photographs. We see her first during a TV guest appearance (Hollywood's The Merv Griffin Show, March 17, 1975), last at a concert engagement (Chicago's Palmer House Hilton, January 11, 1975).

Peggy Lee's Recording Career, 1975

Following her 1974 deal with Atlantic Records, Peggy Lee signed another short-term contract in 1975, this time with A&M Records. The contract generated one album. The contract was inaugurated with three dates of a rather motley nature, preceding the album sessions. In total, 17 masters are listed herein. Also listed are 11 alternate takes, of which 2 are spoken performances, and another ("The Case Of M. J.") could be more properly labeled a defective version of one of the 17 masters. Additional comments about Lee's stay at A&M can be found in a general note at the end of this page. (Side notes: Looking for CD recommendations? Throughout this discography, recommended items are highlighted by my use of bold uppercase on their titles. As for the blue arrowheads periodically found next to some albums, click on them and you will see additional albums which contain the same Peggy Lee performance.)

Acknowledgment

Peter Stoller, remix producer of the CD Peggy Lee Sings Leiber & Stoller (Hip-O Select B 0004169 02), has kindly supplied much of my discographical information for Lee's A&M sessions.

Cross-references And Recommendations

For the material listed on this page, the best option is the Hip-o Select CD Peggy Lee Sings Leiber & Stoller, which contains all the songs from the album Mirrors in a re-sequenced manner, along with bonus tracks. Those who would prefer a good-sounding edition of the album in its original sequence should obviously search for the original LP or, otherwise, the long-out-of-print 1989 CD Mirrors. The 2001/2003 Japanese edition of the album is not recommended. No other CD editions has been issued as of this date. (For a list of non-American LP editions of Mirrors outside of the United States, consult this discography's foreign issues page.)


Date: May 27, 1975
Location: A&M Studio B, 1416 N. La Brea Avenue, Hollywood, Los Angeles
Label: A&M

Peggy Lee (ldr), Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller (pdr), Other Individuals Unknown (acc), Peggy Lee (v)

a. take-7Alternate Take (A&M) Daddy Wah Dah Do (The Climb / Squatty Watty Do) - 3:16(Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller)
b. take-8Master Take (A&M) Daddy Wah Dah Do (The Climb / Squatty Watty Do) - 3:16(Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller)
c. take-14Alternate Take (A&M) I Ain't Here - 4:02(Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) / arr: Perry Botkin, Jr.
d. take-15Alternate Take (A&M) I Ain't Here - 3:48(Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) / arr: Perry Botkin, Jr.
All titles unissued.





Photo

Peggy Lee with A&M's co-founder Jerry Moss (misidentified in a press article as Gil Friesen, then A&M senior vice-president). The occasion for the meeting and the taking of photographs is believed to have been the signing of her contract with the label. It was not Moss, however, but Friesen that championed Lee at A&M. Pictures of Friesen (1937-2012) can be seen near the end of this page. He became the label's president in 1977, and a label co-owner at a point intimate unknown to me. Following his passing, A&M's other co-founder, Herb Alpert, extolled Friesen's virtues as follows: "A&M co-owner Gil was a visionary. His door was always open to people looking for [new] thoughts and ideas ... He was always there to say things that maybe you didn't think of before."


Masters, Dating And Cross-references

1. Preservation
2. Dating
Most of Peggy Lee's A&M performances are currently preserved in various reel tapes at Universal's tape library. Not preserved in the library are this session's performances, which are believed to be her earliest at A&M Records.

The performances have been preserved instead in reference tapes (reel and cassette) originally made for the benefit of the session's participants, and dated May 27, 1975. Some of those reference tapes have ended up in the hands of fans, who have made transfers to other audio configurations.

Given the absence of a master tape at the Universal library, a commercial release of these performances is, though not impossible, unlikely.

3. "I Ain't Here" - Master Take
For the commercially released version of "I Ain't Here," see session dated May 30, 1975.

4. "I Ain't Here" - Take Comparison
Take #14 can be differentiated from other takes by some noodling or humming made by Lee around 3:34, right after she sings the phrase "I ain't here" for the last time. Distinguishing takes 14 and 15 from the master take (May 30, 1975) is the the line uttered by Lee around 1:37. She sings that line as "I don't hear a word you say" in these alternates, but "I can't hear a word you say" in the master. Moreover, the lines "I am here because I'm there with him" are sung in more of a smiling, saucy tone in this session's alternates (around 2:48 in #15, 3:00 in #14).

5. "Daddy Wah Dah Do" - Take Comparison
The most readily apparent different between the two surviving takes is that, tower the end (around 2:50), Peggy Lee does some humming and noodling, all of it absent from the master. The alternate arguably shows a greater abandon on Lee's part, which suits this particular lyrics. By the same token, however, the alternate suffers from a couple spots where Lee's voice goes a bit too hoarse, albeit for just a note or two.


Songs

1. "Daddy Wah Dah Do"
2. "Squatty Watty Do"
3. "The Climb"
4. "The Slime"
The song "Daddy Wah Dah Do" has been known by various names. Leiber & Stoller originally entitled it "The Slime." Under that name, it was first recorded by The Coasters, a r&b group under the songwriters' tutelage. However, that initial recording could not be issued due to the objections of Atlantic honchos Jerry Wexler and Ahmet Ertegun, for whom the title had unpleasant connotations. Hence Leiber & Stoller did a slight rewriting of the lyrics, changed the song's name to "The Climb,", and asked The Coasters to record the number again. Atco released the resulting version in 1962. A parody of dance crazes, the number went on to become briefly popular in France, where a handful of orchestras recorded it, and audiences took "Le Climb" for a real dance craze. (As for "The Slime," it was finally issued during the CD era.) While working with Peggy Lee, Leiber & Stoller reworked the lyrics once more, this time using the phrase "Squatty Watty Do" as the song's title and main line. The events that transpired when Lee saw the lyrics are known only to those present, but it is reasonable to assume that she strongly objected to the potential crassness of the word "squatty." The surviving takes make it evident that the singer and the songwriting-producing team settled, at least momentarily, for having her sing the phrase as "Daddy Wah Dah Do." Ultimately, the number was left unissued.


Arrangements

1. Perry Botkin, Jr.
Preserved in Peggy Lee's sheet music library is an arrangement for "I Ain't Here" that is credited to Perry Botkin, Jr.


Date: May 29, 1975
Location: A&M Studio B, 1416 N. La Brea Avenue, Hollywood, Los Angeles
Label: A&M

Peggy Lee (ldr), Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller (pdr), Pete Romano (eng), Other Individuals Unknown (acc), Peggy Lee (v)

a. take-unknMaster Take (A&M) Don Juan - 3:08(Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) / arr: Perry Botkin, Jr.
Universal's Hip-O Select Licensed CDB 0004169 02PEGGY LEE SINGS LEIBER & STOLLER   (2005)
b. take-17Alternate Take (A&M) Don Juan - 3:43(Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) / arr: Perry Botkin, Jr.
unissued
c. take-"2"Master Take (A&M) Crazy Life - 3:09(Gino Vannelli) / arr: Perry Botkin, Jr.
unissued
d. take-6Master Take (A&M) Crazy Life - 3:01(Gino Vannelli) / arr: Perry Botkin, Jr.
unissued
e. take-11Alternate Take (A&M) Crazy Life - 3:05(Gino Vannelli) / arr: Perry Botkin, Jr.
unissued
f. take-8Master Take (A&M) The Best Thing - 3:33(Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller, Ralph F. Palladino, John Sembello) / arr: Perry Botkin, Jr.
unissued





Preservation And Dating

The tapes on which these performances were originally recorded have not been preserved. Fortunately, a safety tape is extant at the Universal tape library. It is dated June 9, 1975. In addition to the safety tape, the performances are also preserved in reference tapes that were made for some of the sessions' participants, and which are dated May 29, 1975. (See also notes under session dated May 27, 1975.)


Masters And Issues

1. "Crazy Life" - Master Take Number
The take of "Crazy Life" designated as the master is the one which the estate of Leiber & Stoller has chosen for release, and mastered. Unlike the other two takes listed, we do not know this take's actual number. Hence, in the absence of information, I have given it the same identification number which the estate is currently using to file it ("2").

2. "The Best Thing"
This is the only performance of "The Best Thing" known to have survived. In the extant tape, a producer is heard uttering the words "pick up at the end" to the musicians, right as the performance is fading. The directive suggests that at least one additional take was attempted. The directive also suggests that, had "The Best Thing" been released back in the mid-1970s, a different take would have been favored. (That having been said, this take sounds perfectly fine to me. Lee's vocal is fine and complete, and the fading end only adds to the lyrics' impression of a continuous, "all day, all night" lusty atmosphere.

3. "Don Juan" - Take Comparison
The most noticeable difference between the two extant takes of "Don Juan" is in the auxiliary verb used on a repeated line. Properly sung as "you have to carry on" in the master take, the line becomes more colloquial in the alternate take -- "you gotta carry on." Lee maintains the pattern throughout; there is also a line, around 1:29, that she sings in the master as "you no longer have," but turns into "you no longer got" for the alternate. Around 2:11, her intonation of the line "so am I" differs as well, and a quick giggle follows it only in the master. Then there is her approach to the closing vocal line, "bye, Don" -- yelled, though substantially away from the microphone, in the alternate only.

4. "Crazy Life" - Take Comparison
One noticeable difference between the master and the alternate takes of "Crazy Life" occurs around 2:20. Only in the master do we hear Lee sing the full phrase "I'm gonna kiss my sky goodbye." The alternate shortens the line to "kiss my sky goodbye." Take 11 is the only for which the line "it's a crazy life" is fitted with an additional interjection (twice, first as "oh, it's a crazy life" around 1:25, then as "yes, it's a crazy life" toward the end). Take 11 also has Lee making what sounds like a mistake on her part, though one that sounds pleasant enough: where the words should have been "a moody magic voodoo life," the singer gives us "a moody vow-doo voodoo life." Take 11 also finds Lee sounding slightly more sarcastic than elsewhere as she first utters the word "stupid" around 2:31, and coming close to heaving a sigh as she utter the word "die." The closing "crazy life" lines also take more of a near-falsetto tone on take 11.


Songs And Songwriters

1. "Don Juan"
My identification of the first take of "Don Juan" as the same one released on the Hip-o CD is tentative. I am relying on my own listening of two audio sources (the Hip-o track and a copy of the aforementioned reference tape). I do detect some minor differences, but those could have resulted from the mixing process.

2. "The Best Thing"
3. Ralph Palladino
The original version of "The Best Thing" was recorded for the album Dino & Sembello, which was produced by Leiber & Stoller in 1974. The song was a collaboration between the two teams. In sites such as ASCAP, Ralph Palladino can be found listed under the alternate name Ralph Dino.

4. "Crazy Life"
5. Gino Vannelli
Singer-songwriter Gino Vannelli was signed with A&M at the time of this session. One biographer claims that Peggy Lee was attracted to the Canadian crooner. Presumably, his "Crazy Life" was part of an A&M-approved list from which Leiber & Stoller asked Lee to pick any numbers which she favored. There is good indication that the song was to her liking; see below, under Arrangements.


Arrangements

1. Perry Botkin, Jr.
Preserved in Peggy Lee's sheet music library are the arrangements for the three above-entered numbers. In all of them, Perry Botkin, Jr. is identified as the arranger.

2. "Crazy Life"
Peggy Lee's music library contains two arrangements of "Crazy Life," one by Perry Botkin, Jr. and the other by Mickey Ingalls. The existence of the Ingalls arrangement is strong indication that Lee liked the song a lot -- enough to commission the score, presumably with the intention of performing it in concert.


Date: May 30, 1975
Location: A&M Studio B, 1416 N. La Brea Avenue, Hollywood, Los Angeles
Label: A&M

Peggy Lee (ldr), Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller (pdr), Hank Cicalo, Pete Romano, Carmen aka Carmine Rubino (eng), Meco Monardo (s-a), Other Individuals Unknown (acc), George Young (f), Ray Brown (b), Unknown (str), {Head Arrangement}, Peggy Lee (v)

a. 0000Master Take (A&M) Love Me Or Leave Me - 2:40(Walter Donaldson, Gus Kahn)
unissued
b. 0000Alternate Take (A&M) I Ain't Here - 3:45(Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) / arr: Perry Botkin, Jr.
unissued
c. 0000Master Take (A&M) I Ain't Here - 4:16(Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) / arr: Perry Botkin, Jr.
Universal's Hip-O Select Licensed CDB 0004169 02PEGGY LEE SINGS LEIBER & STOLLER   (2005)
d. 0000Master Take (A&M) Some Cats Know - 4:22(Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller)
A&M 451771 — {Some Cats Know / I Remember}   (1975)
A&M 451771 S — {Some Cats Know (full version) / Some Cats Know (edited version)}   (1975)
A&M 8-track/CS/LP8t/Ca/Sp 4547 — Mirrors   (1975)





The Mirrors Sessions (Cross-references)

Primary dates: June 2-6 and August 1, 1975. Also, May 30, 1975 (one track).


Masters

1. "Some Cats Know"
2. Overdub
Just like the other masters entered under this date, "Some Cats Know" was originally recorded with a rhythm section. Unlike those other masters, however, "Some Cats Know" was eventually picked for inclusion in the album Mirrors. In order to make it fit with the rest of the album's tracks, the number was transformed from a piece backed just by rhythm section to an orchestral performance: various additional instruments (strings, flute) were separately recorded, and then dubbed over. Those overdubs took place at The Record Plant (New York), date unknown -- most likely July or August 1975.

In addition to the completed master, various false starts of "Some Cats Know" are extant in Universal's vaults, too.

3. "I Ain't Here" - Take Comparison
I am aware of four extant takes of "I Ain't Here," out of which I have yet to listen to this date's unissued one (The other two, #14 and #15, can be found up above, under the session dated May 27, 1975. Distinguishing this master from takes 14 and 15 is the the line uttered by Lee around 1:37. She sings that line as "I can't hear a word you say" herein, but "I don't hear a word you say" in the alternates.


Dating

1. A General Note About The Dating Of The A&M Sessions
The recording dates that I have entered for the majority of this discography's A&M performances were found in the master boxes that contain them. The possibility remains that, instead of the actual recording day, the dating on those boxes refers to any other part of the production process. Some cutting and removal of performances from one box to another could have also happened.

2. "Some Cats Know"
The inclusion of "Some Cats Know" under this date is tentative: I do not know on which exact session this master was recorded. Of the various possibilities, this date strikes me as the likeliest, mainly because the session tapes contain various false starts of "Some Cats Know." As for the reason why the completed master is not in those tapes, I assume that the decision to do a strings overdub led to the master's removal to another tape.

I should also mention that a safety tape dated June 9, 1975 contains a complete performance of "Some Cats Know." Unfortunately, the original date of the performance is not indicated on the tape's label.


Arrangements

1. Head Arrangements
2. Overdubs
As already explained, all numbers from this session were originally recorded by the vocalist with just a rhythm section, using head arrangements. At a later date, strings and other instruments were dubbed over the original performance of "Some Cats Know," and a commissioned arrangement was used to conduct those instruments. The other performances might have also undergone a similar (though, if so, much lighter) treatment.

3. "Love Me Or Leave Me"
This session's unreleased performance of "Love Me Or Leave Me" features the same upbeat, reggae arrangement heard in Lee's television and concert performances of the song from around this time. (Once it opens for viewing, see this discography's page for Guest TV Appearances, 1975.) The "reggae arrangement" is extant in Lee's music sheet library, but it does not identify its author. Given Perry Botkin, Jr.'s involvement in one of the other masters listed in this session, he is the leading suspect. (Botkin would have presumably concentrated on injecting a reggae flavor on the original head arrangement.)


Personnel

1. Meco Monardo
Meco Monardo is the arranger and conductor of the strings which are heard in "Some Cats Know." He was not part of the original, rhythm section recording of "Some Cats Know."

2. Ray Brown
I have added Ray Brown's name to this session because, in Leiber & Stoller's autobiography, he is credited as playing bass in "Some Cats Know."

3. Pete Romano
4. Carmine Rubino
5. Hank Cicalo
6. Brian Blackburn
The engineer on "I Ain't Here" and "Love Me Or Leave Me" was either Pete Romano or Hank Cicalo.

All the engineers listed in this session worked on the making of "Some Cats Know." Pete Romano was the engineer of the original, non-orchestral performance. Carmine Rubino engineered the overdub instrumental session. Hank Cicalo was the remix engineer of "Some Cats Know" as it is heard in the original Mirrors album.

The "Some Cats Know" master would be remixed once more, this time for inclusion in the CD Peggy Lee Sings Leiber & Stoller. The remix engineer for all tracks on that excellent CD release was Brian Blackburn.


Issues

1. A&M #1771-S [45]
1. A&M #1771-S [45]
A&M single #1771 exists in two versions. One is the commercially issued 45-rpm disc, which features "Some Cats Know" on the A side, "I Remember" on the B side. The other version is a promo that A&M sent out to disc jockeys and radio stations and which spotlights only "Some Cats Know," presenting it in full on one side, in an edit on the other side. ("I Remember" is not included). The promo's catalogue number is the same as the commercial issue, except for the addition of a suffix letter -- an s.


Date: Between Monday, June 2 and Thursday, June 5, 1975
Location: A&M Studios, 1416 N. La Brea Avenue, Hollywood, Los Angeles
Label: A&M

Peggy Lee (ldr), Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller (pdr), Hank Cicalo (eng), Johnny Mandel (con), Georgia Alwan, Norman Benno, Gene Cipriano, Harry Klee, Ronald Langinger, Abe Most, John Neufield, Jack Nimitz, Bill Perkins, Jerome Richardson, Thomas W. "Tom" Scott, Bud Shank, George Young (r), Joe Burnett, Marion "Buddy" Childers, Charles "Chuck" Findley, Paul Hubinon, Malcolm McNab, Anthony Terran (t), Charles C. "Charlie" Loper, Richard T. "Dick" Nash, Kenny Shroyer, Phillip Tule, Mike Vlatkovich, Chauncey Welsch (tb), Vincent DeRosa, Alan Robinson, Marilyn Robinson (hrn), John "Tommy" Johnson, Bill Masonheimer (tu), Dennis Budimir, John Pisano, Tommy Tedesco (g, bj), Ray Brown, Joe Mondragon (b), Fred Seykora (b, vc), Clare Fischer, Dave Grusin, Artie Kane, Michael Lang, Mike Melvoin, Varda Ullman (key), Stephen Paietta (pac), Corky Hale (hrp), Larry Bunker, Gene Estes, John Guerin, Ken Park, Joe Porcaro, Emil Radocchia aka Richards, Jack Ranelli, Mark Stevens, Alvin Stoller, Kenneth Watson (d, per), Victor Feldman (per), Arnold Belnick, Blanche Belnick, Harry Bluestone aka Blostein, Norman Carr, Harold Dicterow, Assa Drori, Irving Geller, William "Bill" Kurasch, Betty Lamagna, Carl Lamagna, Guy Lumia, Erno Neufeld, Wilbert Nuttycombe, John Pintavalle, Tony Posk, Elliot Rosoff, Bob Sanov, Paul Shure, Richard Sortomme, Mari Tsumura, Gerald Vinci, Shari Zippert (vn), Julien Barber, Allan Harshman, Virginia Majewski, Barbara Thomason (vl), Anne Goodman, Dennis Karmazyn, Jess Levy, Edgar Lustgarten, Jackie Lustgarten (vc), Peggy Lee (v, spk)

a. 0000Master Take (A&M) The Case Of M. J. - 3:04(Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) / arr: Johnny Mandel
A&M 8-track/CS/LP8t/Ca/Sp 4547 — Mirrors   (1975)
A&M CS/CD75021 5268 4/2 — Mirrors   (1989)
Universal's Hip-O Select Licensed CDB 0004169 02PEGGY LEE SINGS LEIBER & STOLLER   (2005)
b. 0000 Edit The Case Of M. J. - 2:57(Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) / arr: Johnny Mandel
A&M©Universal CD(Japan) Uciy 3333 — Mirrors ("A&M's Hall Of Fame Series")   (2001)
c. 0000Master Take (A&M) I Remember - 2:50(Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) / arr: Johnny Mandel
A&M 451771 — {Some Cats Know / I Remember}   (1975)
A&M 8-track/CS/LP8t/Ca/Sp 4547 — Mirrors   (1975)
Armed Forces Radio & Television Service 12" Transcription DiscP 15767 - P 15768 — Basic Music Library [5 songs from LP Mirrors]   (1975)
A&M CS/CD75021 5268 4/2 — Mirrors   (1989)
Universal's Hip-O Select Licensed CDB 0004169 02PEGGY LEE SINGS LEIBER & STOLLER   (2005)
d. take-"1"Alternate Take (A&M) Saved - 3:03(Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) / arr: Perry Botkin, Jr.
unissued
e. take-"2"Master Take (A&M) Saved - 3:03(Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) / arr: Perry Botkin, Jr.
unissued
f. take-"3"Alternate Take (A&M) Saved - 3:03(Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) / arr: Perry Botkin, Jr.
unissued
g. take-"4"Master Take (A&M) Saved - 3:03(Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) / arr: Perry Botkin, Jr.
unissued





The Mirrors Sessions (Cross-references)

Primary dates: June 2-6 and August 1, 1975. Also, May 30, 1975 (one track).


Masters & Issues

1. Mirrors [LP; catalogue number]
The official catalogue number of this LP is SP-4547. Confusingly, the label on both sides of the vinyl disc gives the number as follows: SP-4547/Stereo (SP-4831). I believe that this coded information should be read as "this stereo LP has SP-4547 as its release number, SP-4831 as an internal code (perhaps the number assigned to the project, or to the album's matrix). Commercially and/or externally, A&M catalogue number SP-4831 belongs to Zenyatta Mondatta, a 1980 LP by The Police.

2. "The Case of M. J."
3. Mirrors [CD; Universal]
Universal's CD #3333 contains an edited version of "The Case of M. J." that is not found in any other commercial release. This edit was originally produced by Leiber & Stoller around 1978; it was one of their seminal steps for a prospective reissue of the album Mirrors. (See note titled The Aborted "Mirrors" Projects, under session dated August 1, 1975.)

Most noticeable in this edit is the absence of the line that Lee murmurs throughout the song -- how old were you when your father went away?" For many listeners who are familiar with the non-edited version, the edit naturally comes off as truncated and disappointing. The original's strings are missing, too.

Although I myself have not listened to Universal CD #3333, other listeners have kindly informed me about its pros and cons. Aside from the edit in "The Case Of M. J. ," they have not noticed any significant differences from the original LP version. Listeners have complained, however, about the CD's sub-par audio quality, deploring its "heavy digital ambience" and audible "tape edits." In short, this Japanese CD cannot be recommended.

4. "Saved" - Master Take Number
Takes of this unissued number (as of 2020) are numbered in accordance to their current filing designation at the Leiber & Stoller archives. Leiber & Stoller are also responsible for picking take #2 as the master.

5. "Saved" - Take Comparison
Lee's closing utterance in each take allow for a relatively easy differentiation of her four "Saved" takes. "Aha" is her final word on the master, "Oh yeah" on take 3, and "uh huh" in take 1, preceded by a "you know I'm saved." She ends take 2 with "um hmm," preceded not long before by a "oh yeah I'm saved." All four takes have a lengthy instrumental coda, somewhat abruptly cut on the master take only.


Arrangements

1. "Saved"
2. Perry Botkin, Jr.
The arrangement for this session's performance of "Saved" is extant in Peggy Lee's sheet music library. The sheet credits Perry Botkin, Jr. as the arranger.

3. "I Remember"
4. "The Case Of M.J."
The arrangement for this session's performances of "I Remember" is also extant in Lee's library, but it does not identify its author. Since Leiber & Stoller and Lee have credited Johnny Mandel with writing the arrangements for the album Mirrors, and since the album itself credits him with all but one of the arrangements, I have followed suit.


Personnel And Cross-references

1. Collective Personnel
For this session, I have entered the collective personnel found in the back cover of the LP Mirrors. Some (many?) of the above-listed musicians could have thus been present at any of the other sessions but absent from this one.


Dating

This session's performances are preserved in an undated (and unnumbered) master box. Here is my reasoning for the tentative dating that I have assigned to them:

a) Lee's previous session is dated Friday, May 30. Since a date held over the weekend would have been highly unlikely, the earliest date on which this ensuing session could have happened is on the following Monday (June 2).

b) Lee's A&M masters follow a pattern that separate them into two groups, depending on the machine used to record them. The first group consists of masters taped on a 16-track recorder. The second group comprises masters taped on a 24-track machine. The first group is found in boxes bearing May and June dates, whereas the second group is found in boxes bearing dates ranging from June 6 to August 1975. Since the masters under discussion are all 16-track recordings, 'June 5 or before' is the most logical date for them.


Sources

In their autobiography, Leiber and Stoller suggest that, previous to the first of the Mirrors sessions with orchestra, only one rhythm section date had taken place. As can be seen above, this discography suggests otherwise. My source is the data written in the master tapes themselves -- or rather, in the master boxes that contain them. Perhaps the producers (or their writer, David Ritz) chose to refer to just one date in order to simplify what they might have deemed a minor, inconsequential point within their narrative.


Date: June 6, 1975
Location: A&M Studios, 1416 N. La Brea Avenue, Hollywood, Los Angeles
Label: A&M

Peggy Lee (ldr), Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller (pdr), Hank Cicalo (eng), Perry Botkin, Jr., Johnny Mandel (con), Georgia Alwan, Norman Benno, Gene Cipriano, Harry Klee, Ronald Langinger, Abe Most, John Neufield, Jack Nimitz, Bill Perkins, Jerome Richardson, Thomas W. "Tom" Scott, Bud Shank, George Young (r), Joe Burnett, Marion "Buddy" Childers, Charles "Chuck" Findley, Paul Hubinon, Malcolm McNab, Anthony Terran (t), Charles C. "Charlie" Loper, Richard T. "Dick" Nash, Kenny Shroyer, Phillip Tule, Mike Vlatkovich, Chauncey Welsch (tb), Vincent DeRosa, Alan Robinson, Marilyn Robinson (hrn), John "Tommy" Johnson, Bill Masonheimer (tu), Dennis Budimir, John Pisano, Tommy Tedesco (g, bj), Ray Brown, Joe Mondragon (b), Fred Seykora (b, vc), Clare Fischer, Dave Grusin, Artie Kane, Michael Lang, Mike Melvoin, Varda Ullman (key), Stephen Paietta (pac), Corky Hale (hrp), Larry Bunker, Gene Estes, John Guerin, Ken Park, Joe Porcaro, Emil Radocchia aka Richards, Jack Ranelli, Mark Stevens, Alvin Stoller, Kenneth Watson (d, per), Victor Feldman (per), Arnold Belnick, Blanche Belnick, Harry Bluestone aka Blostein, Norman Carr, Harold Dicterow, Assa Drori, Irving Geller, William "Bill" Kurasch, Betty Lamagna, Carl Lamagna, Guy Lumia, Erno Neufeld, Wilbert Nuttycombe, John Pintavalle, Tony Posk, Elliot Rosoff, Bob Sanov, Paul Shure, Richard Sortomme, Mari Tsumura, Gerald Vinci, Shari Zippert (vn), Julien Barber, Allan Harshman, Virginia Majewski, Barbara Thomason (vl), Anne Goodman, Dennis Karmazyn, Jess Levy, Edgar Lustgarten, Jackie Lustgarten (vc), Peggy Lee (v, spk)

a. 0000Master Take (A&M) Ready To Begin Again (Manya's Song) - 3:20(Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) / arr: Perry Botkin, Jr.
A&M LP(Australia) L 21702 — [Various Artists] International Classics, Volume 2; A Selection of A&M's Greatest Female Performances   (1980)
b. 0000Master Take (A&M) Tango - 5:44(Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) / arr: Johnny Mandel
c. 0000Master Take (A&M) Longings For A Simpler Time - 3:54(Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) / arr: Johnny Mandel
Armed Forces Radio & Television Service 12" Transcription DiscP 15767 - P 15768 — Basic Music Library [5 songs from LP Mirrors]   (1975)
All titles on:
A&M 8-track/CS/LP8t/Ca/Sp 4547 — Mirrors   (1975)
A&M CS/CD75021 5268 4/2 — Mirrors   (1989)
Universal's Hip-O Select Licensed CDB 0004169 02PEGGY LEE SINGS LEIBER & STOLLER   (2005)





The Mirrors Sessions (Cross-references)

Primary dates: June 2-6 and August 1, 1975. Also, May 30, 1975 (one track).


Songs

1. "Tango"
Leiber & Stoller's "Tango" consists of three parts: an instrumental intro, a recitative by Peggy Lee, and Lee's sung vocal. Only the sung vocal and the recitative were recorded during this session.

For the instrumental intro, not recorded on this date, see comments under session dated August 1, 1975.

Furthermore, the recitative seems to be a composite of various takes, including those recorded laster, during the session dated August 1, 1975.


Musicians And Arrangements

1. Perry Botkin, Jr.
2. Johnny Mandel
Perry Botkin, Jr. conducted and arranged "Ready To Begin Again (Manya's Song)" only. Johnny Mandel arranged and conducted the session's other performances. Both sets of credits are given in the back cover of the album Mirrors and corroborated by the scores, extant at Lee's sheet music library.


Masters (And Recording Technology)

1. 24-Track Recordings
Of Peggy Lee's various A&M sessions, these are the earliest performances recorded on a 24-track machine -- or at least, the earliest that are extant. The previous ones had been taped on a 16-track recorder. Most likely, the A&M Studios had only recently acquired the 24-track machine, and it was made available to Leiber & Stoller on this date.


Date: August 1, 1975
Location: A&M Studios, 1416 N. La Brea Avenue, Hollywood, Los Angeles
Label: A&M

Peggy Lee (ldr), Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller (pdr), Hank Cicalo (eng), Johnny Mandel (con), Georgia Alwan, Norman Benno, Gene Cipriano, Harry Klee, Ronald Langinger, Abe Most, John Neufield, Jack Nimitz, Bill Perkins, Jerome Richardson, Thomas W. "Tom" Scott, Bud Shank, George Young (r), Joe Burnett, Marion "Buddy" Childers, Charles "Chuck" Findley, Paul Hubinon, Malcolm McNab, Anthony Terran (t), Charles C. "Charlie" Loper, Richard T. "Dick" Nash, Kenny Shroyer, Phillip Tule, Mike Vlatkovich, Chauncey Welsch (tb), Vincent DeRosa, Alan Robinson, Marilyn Robinson (hrn), John "Tommy" Johnson, Bill Masonheimer (tu), Dennis Budimir, John Pisano, Tommy Tedesco (g, bj), Ray Brown, Joe Mondragon (b), Fred Seykora (b, vc), Clare Fischer, Dave Grusin, Artie Kane, Michael Lang, Mike Melvoin, Varda Ullman (key), Stephen Paietta (pac), Corky Hale (hrp), Larry Bunker, Gene Estes, John Guerin, Ken Park, Joe Porcaro, Emil Radocchia aka Richards, Jack Ranelli, Mark Stevens, Alvin Stoller, Kenneth Watson (d, per), Victor Feldman (per), Arnold Belnick, Blanche Belnick, Harry Bluestone aka Blostein, Norman Carr, Harold Dicterow, Assa Drori, Irving Geller, William "Bill" Kurasch, Betty Lamagna, Carl Lamagna, Guy Lumia, Erno Neufeld, Wilbert Nuttycombe, John Pintavalle, Tony Posk, Elliot Rosoff, Bob Sanov, Paul Shure, Richard Sortomme, Mari Tsumura, Gerald Vinci, Shari Zippert (vn), Julien Barber, Allan Harshman, Virginia Majewski, Barbara Thomason (vl), Anne Goodman, Dennis Karmazyn, Jess Levy, Edgar Lustgarten, Jackie Lustgarten (vc), Peggy Lee (v, spk)

a. 0000Master Take (A&M) Say It - 4:03(Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) / arr: Johnny Mandel
A&M 8-track/CS/LP8t/Ca/Sp 4547 — Mirrors   (1975)
Armed Forces Radio & Television Service 12" Transcription DiscP 15767 - P 15768 — Basic Music Library [5 songs from LP Mirrors]   (1975)
US Government's Treasury Department Service LP76 143-144 — The Grammy Treasure Chest [Various Artists; 1 Peggy Lee Vocal]   (1976)
A&M CS/CD75021 5268 4/2 — Mirrors   (1989)
Universal's Hip-O Select Licensed CDB 0004169 02PEGGY LEE SINGS LEIBER & STOLLER   (2005)
b. 0000Master Take (A&M) Professor Hauptmann's Performing Dogs - 5:58(Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) / arr: Johnny Mandel
A&M 8-track/CS/LP8t/Ca/Sp 4547 — Mirrors   (1975)
A&M CS/CD75021 5268 4/2 — Mirrors   (1989)
Universal's Hip-O Select Licensed CDB 0004169 02PEGGY LEE SINGS LEIBER & STOLLER   (2005)
c. 0000Master Take (A&M) A Little White Ship - 3:04(Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) / arr: Johnny Mandel
A&M 8-track/CS/LP8t/Ca/Sp 4547 — Mirrors   (1975)
Armed Forces Radio & Television Service 12" Transcription DiscP 15767 - P 15768 — Basic Music Library [5 songs from LP Mirrors]   (1975)
A&M 45(United Kingdom) Ams 7225 — {I've Got Them Feelin' Too-Good-Today Blues / A Little White Ship} [single never released in the USA]   (1976)
A&M CS/CD75021 5268 4/2 — Mirrors   (1989)
Universal's Hip-O Select Licensed CDB 0004169 02PEGGY LEE SINGS LEIBER & STOLLER   (2005)
d. 0000Master Take (A&M) I've Got Them Feelin' Too-Good-Today Blues - 2:20(Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) / arr: Johnny Mandel
A&M 8-track/CS/LP8t/Ca/Sp 4547 — Mirrors   (1975)
A&M 45(United Kingdom) Ams 7225 — {I've Got Them Feelin' Too-Good-Today Blues / A Little White Ship} [single never released in the USA]   (1976)
A&M CS/CD75021 5268 4/2 — Mirrors   (1989)
Universal's Hip-O Select Licensed CDB 0004169 02PEGGY LEE SINGS LEIBER & STOLLER   (2005)
e. 0000Alternate Take (A&M) Tango [Recitative](Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller)
unissued
f. 0000Alternate Take (A&M) Tango [Recitative](Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller)
unissued





The Mirrors Sessions (Cross-references)

Primary dates: June 2-6 and August 1, 1975. Also, May 30, 1975 (one track).


Songs & Masters

1. "Professor Hauptmann's Performing Dogs"
Mike Stoller has composed two numbers that bear the title "Professor Hauptmann's Performing Dogs." The first was an instrumental piece originally issued on the B-side of the 1968 single "Silver Sea Horse," recorded by Mike Stoller & The Stoller System on Amy Records #11027.

The second number is, of course, the one recorded at this session. It began life as a lyric by Jerry Leiber, to which Stoller then wrote music.

The two numbers are entirely different from one another, sharing only the title. (The title is actually Leiber's device. Leiber was the one who suggested it for Stoller's 1968 instrumental, and who re-used it for his own 1975 lyric.) ASCAP lists the title only once, and places both Peggy Lee and Mike Stoller under it, as performers.

2. "Tango" [Recitative]
This session's performances of "Tango" consisted of the song's spoken part only; the sung segment was recorded earlier. (See session dated June 6, 1975.)

The recitative had also been attempted at that earlier date. Although I have classified this session's recitatives as unissued, in reality they are not entirely so: in their pursuit of a perfect take, Leiber & Stoller are believed to have spliced some of their lines into the June 6 master.

3. "Little Tango"
Also recorded during this session was Tango's instrumental intro, known as "Little Tango" or, alternatively, as "Tango Del Fuego." (This instrumental has had a separate life of its own; director Paul Mazursky used it in his film The Tempest.) Since Lee was not an active participant in its recording, I have not entered "Little Tango" in this discography's database.


Dating

1. A General Note About The Dating Of The A&M Sessions
2. April To August 1975: Full Recording Period For The Album Mirrors
The recording dates that I have entered for the majority of this discography's A&M performances were found in the master boxes that contain them. The possibility remains that, instead of the actual recording day, the dating on those boxes could refer to any other part of the production process. Some cutting and removal of performances from one box to another could have also happened.

Notice that, if this and the previous session's dates are correct, almost a month elapsed between them. During an interview for the December 27, 1975 issue of Record World, Lee told David McGee that "we did set keys [for the album Mirrors] in April and then I went away and when I returned we recorded for a while and I went away again and came back and finished it ..... I had to go to Japan, so we set the keys on the things they did have and when I returned they had written new things. By then it had become a concept album."


Arrangements

1. Johnny Mandel
In the back cover of the album Mirrors, the arrangements for this session's numbers are credited to Johnny Mandel. All the arrangements but the one for "Professor Hauptmann's Performing Dogs" are also extant in Lee's sheet music library, but "Tango" is the only one which names an arranger: Mandel, indeed.




The Aborted Mirrors Projects


Peggy Lee Sings The Cabaret Songs Of Leiber & Stoller
The Unreleased LP


Listed in A&M's log files is an album titled Peggy Lee Sings The Cabaret Songs Of Leiber & Stoller. Producers Leiber & Stoller conceived the album around 1978. They planned it to be both a reissue and an expansion of their earlier LP with Peggy Lee, Mirrors (A&M Records #4547). As part of the plan, the record label proceeded to assemble a complete LP master. A catalogue number (A&M Records #4734) was assigned to the prospective album, and the cover art was designed, too. But the project was eventually shelved.

Had it come to fruition, Peggy Lee Sings The Cabaret Songs Of Leiber & Stoller would have contained new remixes of various songs from Mirrors as well as songs newly recorded by Peggy Lee. Leiber & Stoller did go on to remix at least one or two numbers, but there's no evidence of new recording activity from Lee.

The 2005 CD Peggy Lee Sings Leiber & Stoller (A&M B0004169) is a modern-day incarnation of the abandoned 1978 project. A far more advanced reincarnation. Among the CD's significant advantages are its superior remix and its inclusion of previously unreleased numbers from these 1975 sessions.


Mirrors / Is That All There Is?
The Unreleased CD


In 2004, word of mouth began to spread about an upcoming Peggy Lee CD. Then in progress, the planned disc was to be a twofer which would combine the albums Mirrors and Is That All There Is?. The Australian label Raven Records was preparing it. By 2005, additional word came about the completion of the liner notes and of some remixes, too.

But in 2005, when Raven found out about the upcoming release of Peggy Lee Sings Leiber & Stoller, the record label graciously held off releasing its twofer. Afterwards, plans to release the project seem to have been fully abandoned, perhaps due to two competing CDs in the market (Hip-o Select's Peggy Lee Sings Leiber & Stoller and EMI's A Natural Woman / Is That All There Is?).


Photos

British 8-track and cassette tape editions of the album Mirrors. Kit sent out by A&M to the press and other interested concerns, as promotion on behalf of Mirrors, Except for the picture that graces the front cover of Mirrors, none of the pictures on display are from 1975, but they are close enough in time (1971-1974).





Peggy Lee With Leiber & Stoller At A&M Records

Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller were responsible for bringing Peggy Lee to A&M, a label with which they themselves had only recently begun to work. Over the previous two decades, Atlantic and its Atco subsidiary had been the labels with which the independent producers had had a fruitful, well-established partnership . However, during those same years, their independent status had also allowed the pair to spread the wealth of their talent, with a portion of the singles that they were producing landing on labels such as Jubilee, Kapp, MGM, Vee-Jay and, comparatively more often, United Artists. Not A&M, though -- not until the following decade. Their involvement with A&M took off during the years 1972 and 1973, when a single that they produced for the Scottish rock-folk group Stealers Wheel unexpectedly made Billboard's top 10 in the United States, and the accompanying debut album peaked at #50.

Since at least the late 1960s, the team had also been nurturing al desire to produce a full album for Capitol Records, with Peggy Lee as the recording artist. Or so can be deduced from some comments made by Stoller, and quoted by Lee biographer Peter Richmond: "when we started conceiving Mirrors, it was when Peggy was going to be dropped from Capitol. We had hoped to use those songs in an album for Capitol with 'Is That All There Is' and that should have been the album title."

The above quoted comments have actually confused me a bit, due to the lack of clarity as to the exact period of time in question. To be more exact, my confusion is caused by the reference to a drop from the label: Peggy Lee and Capitol Records did not part ways until mid-1972. But it appears that Stoller is thinking instead of the 1968-1969 period. Is his claim accurate? In other words, was Capitol planning to drop Lee around late 1968? Since I do not count with solid evidence to answer this question affirmatively or negatively, let us at least take a short detour to explore the matter.

It is true that Capitol -- by this time under largely new and younger leadership -- had been dropping their old-guard artists since the mid-1960s. Hence, although I do not have any clear-cut indication that the label was about to let Lee go in 1968 or 1969, the scenario is certainly plausible. In addition to having an agenda to phase out the old-guard roster, the brass could have been specifically displeased at Lee's request to have her 1968 Two Shows Nightly album withdrawn. The withdrawal effectively came to mean that, whether as punishment on the label's part of by Lee's own design, no original Lee album was released throughout 1968. (Capitol did release a compilation, though, The Hits Of Peggy Lee, containing some material not previously available on LP.) She had had a reasonably successful string of Adult Contemporary hits in 1966 (plus a ton 10 one in late 1967), but no commercial activity resulted from either of the 1968 singles that she made with the same producing team behind Two Shows Nightly. (Possible reasons: the fact that the songs on those singles were covers, the label's own wary approach to wide promotion of the singles, after the withdrawal of the album, et cetera.)

But it should be pointed out that, long before the release of "Is That All There Is," Capitol had already approved the recording of a new album (A Natural Woman) and enlisted another producer new to Lee's sphere (Phil Wright) to conduct it. According to one of Lee's biographers, the brass had been convinced to okay the album deal through the auspices of Lee's former producer and steady friend, Dave Cavanaugh. (The biographer does not tell us his source for this particular claim.) To conclude this detour, the details provided in this paragraph and the previous one neither prove nor disprove that, around 1968, Capitol was planning to drop Lee from its roster. It may be that Leiber & Stoller heard that Capitol had such a plan. (Even so, one can't help but notice that the claim clinches the songwriters' own narrative, in which they deem themselves the saviors of Lee's career at this junction.)

Presumptively to be completed and released in 1970, Leiber & Stoller's prospective Capitol album would have started off with the hit single, Is That All There Is?, and would have then offered many a self-written Mirrors song in a similar vein vein. But no such album was ever made at Capitol. According to the songwriters, there was no expression of interest from Lee for the duration of her Capitol contract. In his comments about the matter, Leiber further suggests that the excuse they'd consistently hear from Lee and/or her associates was that the singer remained "always on the road." But there is a more concrete reason why the Leiber Stoller album project never took off at Capitol. As revealed by one of Lee's biographers: "according to Phil Wright, however, Leiber and Stoller had wanted 'a lot of money' in return. 'That's why I ended up producing her.' " The degree to which the songwriters were aware of that obstacle is unknown to me.
from their report, we gather that they kept on calling the singer during her Capitol years, in a continued attempt to convince her to make their album for Capitol. (Nevertheless, I have no indication that they continued to call after it became known that she was no longer under Capitol contract.)

If the plan of action was to record a full album of songs in the same mold as the hit single, any misgivings on Lee's part would have been understandable. After the ordeal through which she had gone while trying to convince Capitol that the song "Is That All There Is?" was worth recording and releasing, she must have been wary of pitching the idea of a full album containing similar material. Her experience working with the pair of songwriters had been probably mixed as well. Songwriters naturally have a very specific notion on how their songs should be sung. All the way back to the "I'm A Woman" date, there had already been differences of opinion between Lee and the more forward Leiber. The singer had resisted the songwriter's request to interpret the number his way, telling him to mind his own business.

Another source of concern might have been the potential for an adverse reaction from a portion of her audience around 1970. She had already faced negative criticism from conservatively minded listeners who had deemed "Is That All There Is?" morally reprehensible. As someone who was striving to keep a positive outlook in her own personal life, such reactions had grieved Lee. She had responded with a strenuous defense of the lyrics, declaring them open to positive interpretation. A full album of similarly dark or existential material would have harder to defend -- not to say anything of a hard sell at Capitol.

From a more career-oriented standpoint, there was also the fact that Lee was already working, to her excitement and satisfaction, with several other Capitol-approved producers none of which were pushing their own, self-written material on her. Her partnership with Phil Wright, in particular, had proven satisfactory and rewarding. So would be an upcoming, mutually rewarding experience with Artie Butler as the producer of her final Capitol album.






In 1975, Lee at last expressed interest in doing an album with Leiber & Stoller. According to the songwriters, she called them out of the blue, and asked. Since Lee no longer was no longer signed to Capitol by that time, Leiber & Stoller presumed that the reason why she approached them was that there were no other record contract prospects in her horizon. Such a presumption is erroneous. Since 1974, British producer Ken Barnes had been trying to persuade Lee to record under his tutelage. (She would do so in 1977, with Barnes' producing not one but two albums for her; see her Polydor sessions page. There could have been other offers of which I am not aware; I do know that she recorded for another team of independent producers at an unknown date between 1973 and 1977, although that project failed to generate a commercial release.) In any case, the main point is that there is no solid justification for the presumption that Lee was wanting for offers. (This one out of several similarly adverse statements made by the songwriters on the matter of Lee's career. Several of those comments have been easily proven to be off the mark. Perhaps the producers' perspective was swayed by their own, understandably self-centered viewpoint. Of similar import might have been their valid grievances about Lee's sometimes contentious and imperious, voluble or not-fully-acquiescing stance during the recording sessions that they did with her.)

With Lee on board, Leiber & Stoller tell us that they next had to convince Jerry Moss -- the record producer and businessman who, along with Herb Alpert, owned A&M. Moss was wary of signing Lee due to word of mouth, presumably from other executives, which portrayed her as difficult. "We'll sign Peggy for one LP if you guys guarantee that you'll produce it," said Moss, according to Leiber & Stoller, in their autobiography Hound Dog.

The somewhat abrasive Leiber also provided a more plain-spoken version of the dialogue with Moss. The album, Leiber told biographer Peter Richmond, "got done on A&M, who signed her on our behalf, as in - 'We don't want her unless you guarantee that she is doing the album. We don't want to deal with her.' " It is worth noting that, out of the label's three main executives, Moss was the one who dealt with sales and bureaucratic matters. In charge of the more artistic decisions was Herb Alpert, who is not known to have been directly involved with Peggy Lee's work for A&M (perhaps because Leiber & Stoller were already in charge of the artistic aspects).

In their autobiography, Leiber & Stoller do not tell us if the third top A&M executive, Gil Friesen, shared Moss' misgivings about Lee. Friesen was the label's true hands-on executor there, running the company's affairs on a daily basis. There happened to be a long-standing connection between Friesen and the singer, too. Having started his record company career with a mail processing job at Capitol Records, his move to and ascent at A&M had been preceded by a second job at Capitol, as a traveling salesman, going cross-country to promote the label's newest releases, among which he would later recall handling Lee's singles, especially.

Fortunately, our gap in knowledge about Friesen's stance has been filled by Peggy Lee's biographers. Friesen was actually the executive who first heard of
the songwriter's plan for a Lee album: "we played what we had for Gil Friesen at A&M and he said, 'I don't know if it is commercial or not, but they are all good.' " We are also told that, when Moss "scoffed at the idea of signing" Lee, it was a "heavy push" from Friesen that led Moss to "change his mind."

Despite his misgivings, Moss still declared to one of Lee's biographer that "[t]o have an album by Peggy was a big deal for us. We wanted to do it right," which meant that, among other factors, a big budget was approved. (This declaration or statement was given out in 2010. About ten years before, another Lee biographer was given a somewhat paradoxical account of the matter. A former Lee manager told the biographer that, back in 1975, he had "fielded a phone call from an exec at the label." The executive is quoted as having exclaimed, "we don't think the record is very good, and we're not spending a lot of money on it, and she's raising hell." )

For their part, Leiber & Stoller believed that the main reason why Moss struck the deal was gratitude. Moss would have been understandably appreciative of the international success enjoyed by "Stuck In The Middle With You," the aforementioned single that Leiber & Stoller had produced for the group Stealer's Wheel. The songwriter's point strikes me as reasonable, though needing a more expanded or nuanced presentation. We should not leave out of the picture the fact that Stealers Wheel's success turned out to be short-lived. The group's second album, also produced by Leiber & Stoller, proved a commercial failure at a time when the producers themselves were dealing with business difficulties. By 1975, the group had disbanded. Taking all these elements into account, it might make even more sense to say that, more than their production of one hit single, it was Leiber & Stoller's overall, amply proven success as producers that factored into Moss' approval of the deal.

The initial sessions lack the focused look expected for the production of an album. No narrow conceptual focus is apparent in the choice of repertoire, which included an assortment of Leiber & Stoller numbers from various genres (rock 'n' roll, r&b, proto-disco, theatre), one standard (updated to a reggae beat), and one plug tune (written by a newly signed, soon-to-prove successful A&M act). According to Peter Stoller, remix producer of the CD Peggy Lee Sings Leiber & Stoller, most of those songs were recorded "as a sort of back up proposal in case A&M didn't go for the Mirrors concept. When Mirrors got the green light, those ... recordings were abandoned." The general intention was thus to count with a variety of pop and contemporary-oriented material, as an alternative to the obviously more esoteric, less marketable material at hand.

Also recorded during those earlier sessions were two pieces which showed a literary bent ("The Case Of M. J.," "I Remember"), and which did end up in the Mirrors album. (Both received lavish orchestral treatments from Johnny Mandel, too. The numbers mentioned in the previous paragraph were, on the other hand, recorded with a rhythm section.) Either at this point or a little later, Lee nixed another couple of worthy compositions ("Let's Bring Back World War One" and, most notably, "Humphrey Bogart") on account of their lyrics.




Leiber & Stoller then proceeded to meet with Jerry Moss, Gil Friesen and other executives, for a discussion of the progress that they were making with the ongoing sessions. The producers played for them a demo that contained the songs which had been recorded so far. The rhythm section numbers were deemed "fine" and "typical Peggy" but the superlative "brilliant" was reserved for the two orchestral performances. "Do the rest of the album like that," Friesen said to the producers. (The Leiber & Stoller autobiography identifies the two orchestral numbers as "The Case Of M. J." and "A Little White Ship" but the data supplied above suggests that the second number might have been instead "I Remember," not "A Little White Ship." This presumed error was actually corrected in one of the biographies, which also includes a variation on Leiber & Stoller's account of this meeting. In the biographer's words, most of the songs recorded so far, "left Moss cold. But Friesen perked up when he heard The Case Of M.J. and Remember. 'That's really interesting and beautiful stuff,' he said. 'You should do a whole album like that. ' ")

With this stamp of approval from the typically discerning Friesen, the producers proceeded to finish (re-)writing the full series of songs that they had been envisioning. And with Johnny Mandel's continued involvement, the ensuing sessions maintained the inspired, eerie atmosphere that the two earlier cuts had made manifest. Thus the album took a full shape, culminating with the choice of title, inspired by a line from the song "A Little White Ship."

For all the woes and tribulations experienced while wrestling with the singer during the making of the album, the songwriters themselves would be forever proud of the results, deeming Mirrors their very best, most sophisticated album. Around 2005, Leiber further stressed his ultimate approval of the results, and re-stated his long-held admiration for the singer's skills: "Part of the experience in hearing her sing these songs was not only the singing and acting, which I think she does a superb job on .. but strangely enough, I think that those songs lend themselves to the timbre of her voice. It's something that goes beyond interpretation ... It's the extra thing that creates the atmosphere that draws you in."

Even though it was alternatively ignored or panned at the time of its release, Mirrors has gone on to reach cult status. Among the factors helping to modify the one dismissive view of the album is the gradual dwindling of the exclusionary criticism which once permeated the then rock-oriented, mainstream music press. Since the last decade of the twentieth century, the album has steadily elicited admiration from new generations of music fans, and from music critics who no longer evaluate music with the biased lens of the earlier critics' r&b and rock 'n' roll roots.


Photos

Above: a photo of Peggy Lee with a smiling Mike Stoller and Jerry Leiber (the latter probably tickled by the touch of a favorite female singer) at one of the 1975 sessions detailed throughout this page. Also, one side of a special Mirrors edition. Albums by just about every well-known recording artist were pressed by the Armed Forces Radio Service for the exclusive enjoyment of the military personnel that tuned to their network of stations. Mirrors was no exception. As tended to be the Service's practice at this particular point in time, only half of the album's ten songs were picked for inclusion, and featured on just one side of the vinyl disc (AFRTS P 15768). Not pictured above, the other side (P 15767) was filled with songs from the Donna Summer album Love To Love You Baby.

central mosaic: the first picture row is dedicated to A&M's top triumvirate in their early years at the label (i.e., around the mid-1960s). From left to right, the middle photo features Jerry Moss, Gil Friesen, and Herb Alpert. Gil Friesen is also the man seen on the individual shots. The hands-on executive at the label, he was the man who championed the signing of Peggy Lee at A&M. The second row is entirely filled by a shot of a January 1971 recording session at A&M's studio B, where Peggy Lee would do her A&M sessions four years later. The shot captures singer Carole King during the recording of her iconic Tapestry album. (The musicians in sight are Danny Kortchmar, Russ Kunkel, Charles Larkey, and Ralph Shuckett.) An updated picture of the same studio can be seen in the third picture row, along with a 1975 photo of Peggy Lee, probably rehearsing inside the Waldorf Astoria, for an engagement at that venue's Empire Room in late October.

also near the center: A&M's advertisement on behalf of its 1975 fall line. In addition to Peggy Lee's Mirrors, the line included albums by Kim Caries, Rita Coolidge, Supertramp, Paul Williams, and others.

Below: more samples of the way Peggy Lee looked in 1975. Both shots capture the singer in the midst of performing, first during rehearsal at the Waldorf Astoria (October 17), then during a special appearance at the Nagano Sun Plaza Hall in Tokyo, Japan (April 25, part of a handful of Lee concerts in the city).





Sessions Reported: 6

Performances Reported: 30

Unique Songs Reported: 18

Unique Issues Reported: 11