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The Peggy Lee Bio-Discography:
Research And Inquiry Into The 1957 Singles With Nelson Riddle

by Iván Santiago

Page generated on Sep 17, 2021

I. Contents And Scope

This supplementary page focuses on a trio of sessions that Peggy Lee made for Capitol Records in 1957. All three sessions were dedicated to the production of singles (as opposed to albums). The discussion will be carried out under the presumption that the reader has already consulted the 1957-1959 page of the sessionography, where the main specifics about these 1957 dates (April 13, April 22, August 30) can be found.

Some readers might wonder why I have abstained from incorporating the ensuing discussion to the main, aforementioned session page. My main reason: the subject matter to be discussed remains too shrouded in mystery. Since some of the arguments to be made will not raise beyond the label of speculation, the potential for confusion on the reader's mind will hopefully be minimized through their coverage on this separate page.

In addition to the heavily speculative nature of the topics, I have also taken into consideration the inordinate length at which I have looked into them. By placing lengthy and speculative discourse in miscellaneous pages such as this one, I am hoping to make the sessionographical pages relatively easier to scroll down, and thus more amenable to browsing.

II. Peggy Lee's 1957 Studio Work

During the year 1957, Peggy Lee made a total of nine sessions for Capitol Records. The three earliest dates were spent on the recording of songs for one album (The Man I Love). Conversely, the last three sessions were reserved for the waxing of another album (Jump For Joy).

It is the remaining three dates ("the middle sessions") that interest us herein. Those concentrated on songs of the day, styled in a manner that clearly aimed at the contemporaneous radio market. To be more specific, most of these numbers fall within the categories of rock 'n' roll and doo-wop, both of which were popular genres at the time.

Lee is presumed to have tried such current musical styles at the instigation of Capitol executives. Although no verbal or written evidence has come forward, we can gather such to be the case from the fact that other major Capitol artists of an earlier generation (Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole) were also doing such numbers, primarily for inclusion on the singles that the label was putting out.

Being of an earlier generation, these singers had a generally unfavorable attitude toward the genres that were newly emerging into the mainstream. Sinatra is known to have disapproved of many of the new musical currents in the 1950s and 1960s. Cole was also less than thrilled. Poking fun at both himself and the new trends, he would go on to add the self-tailored lyric "Mr. Cole Won't Rock And Roll" to his stage act. In Peggy Lee's case, there is also anecdotal commentary suggesting a dislike for rock 'n' roll when it first appeared in the market.

However, we should not rule out the possibility that these singers harbored a personal desire to challenge themselves by tackling contemporaneous musical stylings. (All three did well with some of their outings.) Such a possibility is especially strong when it comes to Lee. After all, she had previously dabbled in rhythm & blues and boogie boogie. From her initial dislike of rock 'n' roll, she seems to have evolved into a more sympathetic stance. The evolution occurred once mainstream radio began to expose her to less insipid --"teen age"-- lyric samples, and
to more skillful exponents of the genre. (Peggy Lee was generally receptive to new musical sounds. She would go on to be among the first artists of her generation to unequivocally embrace the talents of Ray Charles, The Beatles, and the singer-songwriters of the 1970s. Even well into her senior years, Lee would continue voice an interest in remaining musically current, while still embracing the standards and classics of the long-ago past.)

III. Nelson Riddle's Involvement

Besides the singer herself, the other chief creative force behind Peggy Lee's 1957 sessions was Nelson Riddle. All the songs which Lee recorded on that year featured Riddle arrangements.

In addition to serving duty as arranger, Riddle conducted over half of Lee's 1957 sessions, and attended all but one of the dates. The date which Riddle did not attend (April 22) was actually dedicated to remaking numbers from Lee's preceding session (April 13), at which he had arranged and conducted. Capitol's official paperwork gives nominal leadership of the non-Riddle session (April 22) to guitarist Jack Marshall, who had played on the previous date.

The reason for Riddle's absence from the remake session remains unknown to me. We could simply speculate that other engagements might have prevented him from attending.

It could be persuasively argued that Riddle's talents were not needed at a session featuring a fairly small combo. To be more exact, the April 22 date features a sextet, doing what could be construed as scaled-down versions of Riddle's original arrangements. Given the reduction in personnel, the conductor's presence could have been superfluous on this second time around.

I am left to wonder, however, if Riddle's non-attendance hints at a stylistic disagreement between Lee, Riddle and/or other concerned parties. Why was the entire previous session remade? Was Lee perhaps dissatisfied with the results? Could she have felt that working with her own musicians would be more congenial to the flow of the songs?

IV. A Closer Look Into The 1957 Singles Sessions

The following is an itemization of the songs that were recorded (and re-recorded) at Peggy Lee's 1957 singles sessions.

April 13, 1957
16840. Every Night (Issued on 45-rpm single F 3722)
16841. Uninvited Dream ***
16842. Baby, Baby, Wait For Me **

April 22, 1957
16860. Every Night ***
16861. Uninvited Dream **
16862. Baby, Baby, Wait For Me (Issued on 45-rpm single F 3722)

August 30, 1957
17424. Listen To The Rocking Bird (Issued on 45-rpm single F 3811)
17425. It Keeps You Young *
17426. Uninvited Dream (Issued on 45-rpm single F 3811)
17427. You Don't Know ***

* First Issued on LP (1960)
** First issued on CD
*** Still unissued

Note that the first two sessions happened just a week and a half apart from one another, whereas the last one took place about six months later. Note also that "Uninvited Dream," already attempted at the two earlier sessions, was given yet a third try on the August 30 date. Riddle returned for that last date, with a full orchestra in tow.

Nelson Riddle conducted an eight-piece ensemble on the first date and an orchestra on the last date. The second session, featuring Lee with a sextet, was "Riddleless." That session's nominal leader was guitarist Jack Marshall.

Side note: in addition to those above, Capitol's inventory of masters lists one additional song, seemingly from a tenth 1957 Lee session. Titled "I'm Following You," the song was recorded on June 14, 1957. It turns out, however, that the connection to Lee is erroneous. A look at the Capitol Label Discography by Michel Ruppli et al reveals that the master in question (#16596) is from a date (#6082) credited to an act known as The Four Dolls. Hence the inventory's linking to Peggy Lee is by all appearances a mistake; she is not known to have been involved in the creation of this master. (On the other hand, we should not lose sight of the fact that the master remains unissued, and thus unheard.)

This itemization has been sourced from Capitol's internal documentation (artists files, session logs, master inventories). Another primary source shall be considered next.

V. The Federational Reports

For all three of these sessions, I was able to consult their American Federation Of Musicians contracts. The details gathered from my inspection can be found in the sessionography of this discography.

Regrettably, AFM's contracts do not identify the songs performed on any given session. Nor do they reveal how many numbers were waxed per date, alas. (I am referring to contracts or reports from the year 1957. All the ones I have seen lack such information. Modifications were made shortly thereafter. The 1958 reports which I have consulted do include song titles, and ditto for those from subsequent years.)

The 1957 contracts at least tell us the duration of each individual session: three and a half hours (April 13), three hours (April 22), and four hours (August 30). Since three hours was the standard per session, two of these dates went into overtime.

Contractually, four was the maximum number of songs allowed for a three-hour session. Back then, most producers and seasoned artists aimed at meeting that quota. Their ratio of success was high.

From our inspection of the AFM reports, we can reasonably surmise that each of Lee's 1957 singles sessions produced a minimum of three masters. (As we have already seen, Capitol's own documentation backs up our inference.)

VI. The Stereo Report

The sessions for our perusal yielded two 45-rpm singles. Both were released in 1957, and both are monophonic. Capitol did not begin to issue stereo singles until 1959.

However, long before 1959, Capitol had begun to record some of its sessions in both stereo and mono. The company had simply kep those stereo versions in the vaults, finally letting them loose from 1959 onwards.

At least one of the three sessions under our scrutiny was indeed recorded in both mono and stereophonic sound. (Or, to be more precise, the session was recorded on both two-track and three-track taping machines, the latter being the ones containing the necessary components for a stereo release.) With the arrival of the CD era, modern-day producers retrieved the three-track tapes from Capitol's vaults, and then proceeded to remix the numbers to stereo.

Here is how Capitol's files stand when it comes to the stereo remixes from Lee's 1957 singles sessions:

April 13, 1957
16840. Every Night (made available on the CDs Rare Gems And Hidden Treasures and All Aglow Again!)
16842. Baby, Baby, Wait For Me (made available on the CD Jump For Joy)
April 22, 1957
16861. Uninvited Dream (made available on the CD set The Singles Collection)

The listings above would actually seem to state that not one but two of these 1957 sessions were recorded to stereo. But how reliable are these listings? I do harbor suspicions of erroneous data entry in Capitol's documentation. (This subject matter will be covered in its own separate section below.)

There is a question mark at to whether the stereo version of "Uninvited Dream" is truly from April 22, rather than April 13. So far, no three-track tapes have surfaced for the other two April 22 masters.

We have no indication of stereo activity at the August 30 date, either. All three issued masters from that last session have made monophonic appearances only.

VII. A Stereophonic Mystery

Why would have Capitol seen fit to pick one of these singles sessions for taping on both mono and stereo, yet not the others? Currently, there is no conclusive answer for that intriguing question. Three possibilities have been raised:

Possibility #1
The masters from the April 13 session could have been originally intended for a Peggy Lee LP centered around the popular sounds of the day (rock 'n' roll, doo-wop, rhythm & blues, et cetera) , and rendered in the then-novel stereophonic sound. Ultimately, plans for the making of such LP would have been abandoned.

Possibility #2
The April 13 session could have been originally set up for the purpose of contributing to a prospective various-artists LP. The overarching theme of that hypothetical LP would have been the popular sounds of the day (rock 'n' roll, doo-wop, rhythm & blues, et cetera), fashionably performed by Capitol's roster in stereophonic sound. Eventually, the plan would have been abandoned.

(Music more deeply into this hypothetical scenario, we might surmise that the prospective various-artists stereo LP would have been slated to use just one Peggy Lee song. If so, would have been no need to tape all three songs from the session to stereo? Here is a tentative answer to this question:
Capitol might have recorded the entire session in stereo as a matter of internal policy. Actual examples of such a policy can be cited. There is, for instance, the Sinatra session held on May 29, 1958. Three of that date's four masters were recorded for inclusion on his album Only The Lonely, while the other title, "Monique," was recorded for release on a 45-rpm single. That single came ou in mono only, and yet the number was also taped in stereo at the session. The obvious reason: "Monique" was recorded during one of the Only The Lonely sessions, which were being purportedly recorded in both mono and stereo.

Possibility #3
Peggy Lee and/or Capitol could have had some personal/vested interest in featuring her voice in stereo.

Thoughts On Possibility #1

This possibility does not strike me as likely. I highly doubt that Capitol would have considered any artist of Lee's vintage for such a project. Some of the younger acts in the roster would have been deemed more suitable. Nor I do not believe that Lee herself would have receptive to such a drastic undertaking. Even supposing that she was keen on experimenting with the current sounds of the day, the wiser route would have been through singles.

Thoughts On Possibility #1

I find appeal in this possiblity. A modicum of support for it can be gathered from the fact that Capitol had released various-artists stereo tapes in 1957, and would go on to release two various-artists stereo LPs in the next two years. (The LPs: The Stars In Stereo, released in 1958, and More Stars In Stereo, released in 1959. The latter included one track by Lee, "Fever.")

That's as far as we can stretch the amount of support, however. While Capitol's more established acts (Cole, Sinatra, Lee, Whiting, etc.) were tasked with attempting at rock 'n' roll, doo-wop, and rhythm & blues, 45-rpm single was the format in which those efforts tended appear. They were rarely released on their own original LPs, let alone any various-artists album.

Before closing our consideration of possibility #2, I must make mention of a tantalizing albeit vague (and thus potentially misleading) bit of data. In Capitol's inventory of masters, one rendition of "Uninvited Dream" is listed as being on a reel bearing the description "various artists - suddenly." I do not know of anyone who has inspected the reel in question, nor can I explain the precise meaning of the description. Could that tape provide validation for possibility #2 (i.e., a various-artists stereophonic album of modern sounds)? ... "No" turns out to be the likeliest answer, unfortunately. Here is the reason why: this "Suddenly" mystery reel lists master #17426 as the version of "Uninvited Dream" that it may contain, and that master appears to exist in mono only. We are thus left with only minimal support for possibility #2.

Thoughts On Possibility #3

Our last speculative scenario can generate some support -- but not much, either. The main argument in its favor would stem from the fact that a large number of Lee's 1957-1959 sessions were simultaneously recorded in mono and stereo. Since such a number appears to be higher than for all other Capitol artists, we can only surmise that either the label or Lee was intent on keeping stereo versions of her works.

Now, before we continue, let's clarify that we are referring to Lee's singles sessions, not her album sessions. When it came to late 1950s stereo album sessions, Lee was merely one more out many contemporaneous Capitol artists who enjoyed similar treatment.

It is the singles sessions that raise eyebrows . Not even Cole (nor Sinatra) can boast of having three-track singles sessions dating as far back as April of 1957, and then increasing in number during the two ensuing years. One of those sessions actually generated a 45 that became part of the label's very first batch of binaural singles, released in 1959.

The 1958 success of the single "Fever" probably prompted Capitol to give special treatment to Lee's work. Such success still cannot account for the label's decision to let its three-track machine roll on April 13, 1957 -- a year before the recording of "Fever." For the time being, the matter remains puzzling.

VIII. The Case Of The "Uninvited Dream"

As already stated, Peggy Lee tackled the song "Uninvited Dream" on all three of her 1957 singles sessions. Two of those versions have been released so far, one on the original 45-rpm single and the other in the CD set The Singles Collection. Stylistically, the musical backing of the two issued versions is vastly different. Whereas the original single contains a ballad treatment of "Uninvited Dream," the master take found in The Singles Collection is in doo-wop style.

I suspect that there is an error in Capitol's paperwork. The doo-wop version of "Uninvited Dream" strikes me as far likelier to have been recorded on April 13, 1957. Two reasons point in that direction. First, the performance was recorded on three-track (just like the others from April 13, and unlike the other released master from April 22).

Second, and more arguably, the musical backing in this version of "Uninvited Dream" sounds the same as the orchestra heard on the other April 13 masters, less so as the smaller combo from the April 22 date.

In short, I believe that the performances currently identified as masters #16841 and #16861 should switch placements. The former is, in my opinion, the issued performance, the latter the performance listed as unissued.

Nonetheless, I must stress that there is no factual support for the proposed switch. It is instead based entirely on a personal assessment which could ultimately turn out to be misguided. For that reason, my assessment remains circumscribed to the present discussion, and to session notes where there is valid reason to point out the possibility. Otherwise, I have not discussed or applied the proposed switch anywhere else in the discography. (That is to say, I have entered the information about "Uninvited Dream" exactly as it is given in Capitol's official paperwork.)

IX. False Allegations: "Baby, Baby, Wait For Me"

The discographical difficulties posed by Lee's 1957 singles sessions are manifold. We have just discussed one possibly case of mistaken identity ("Uninvited Dream"). Though less significant, there are also discrepancies involving the other songs that Lee first recorded on April 13 and then remade on April 22.

Let us first examine the facts surrounding "Baby, Baby, Wait For Me." At first, there do not seem to be any discrepancies. Capitol's official paperwork identifies the originally released version (on 45-rpm single F 3722) as master #16682. It is also identified as such on the label of the 45-rpm disc itself.

The problem surfaces when we look into personnel credits, as they are given on the 45-rpm single. Nelson Riddle's Orchestra is credited as the accompaniment. Therein lies the discrepancy. It so happens that master #16682 was recorded during the April 22 remake session, which featured neither Riddle nor an orchestra.

X. The "Every Night" Disappearing Act

In the case of "Every Night," questions arise about the version dated April 22: the hitherto unreleased master. Its very existence is in doubt.

This master is not listed in Peggy Lee's session file.

It is listed, however, in Capitol's inventory of tapes. (I have not consulted that document myself, but I have been reliably informed about its contents.)

Given its inclusion in such an inventory, this master's existence is highly likely. And yet, a vault search for it has come up empty.

Worth a mention herein is a circumstance that should not go unnoticed: the number assigned to this April 22 master (#16860) is very similar to the number assigned to the counterpart master (16840) from the earlier session. Such a similarity raises additional flags about the possibility of typos or human error in Capitol's paperwork.

Actually, a perusal of section IV above will reveal that this "numerical parallel" applies to all three masters from these sessions. So far, I have not come across any concrete reason to argue that the similarity is anything other than a coincidence. The oddity should be kept in mind, however, especially in connection to the unissued "Every Night" master.

XI. Closing Comment

The tapes that contain the 1957 singles sessions need to be aurally inspected, and ditto for the data written in its tape boxes. Such tapes should be auditioned for the purpose of verifying that the released masters are truly the ones that Capitol's logs and inventories identify as such.