It may seem odd to say it, but Black Coffee by Peggy Lee is a collection of songs that sound exactly as you would expect them to sound, which is exactly as they should sound. The mid fifties are preserved in amber in these songs that seem to contain the wholesome ideolised american dream and a hint of the reality of the seediness that existed but was hidden beneath the shimmering sheen presented to the world. America in the fifties was not the wholesome soda fountain world it now seems to be fondly remembered as the problems that still exist today where even deeper seated then and not even seen as being a problem.
I have always thought of Peggy Lee as being old but she was 33 at the time of recording this album, 20 years younger than I am today and when I clear my own misguided pre-conceptions and listen to the songs as though it were a woman in her thirties singing them it all makes much more sense to me. This was her first album, having previously been part of the Benny Goodman Orchestr since 1941 and, as was the standard practice at the time, the songs are all written by somebody else, often having already been performed on record by many other artist with the Cole Porter song ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin’ being a good example.
interestingly, to me at least, Joni Mitchell declared the album one of her favorites, leading off her torch song album of 2000, Both Sides Now, with her version of Black Coffee.
What is certaibnly true is that there is much more to Lee than just the song Fever!