Peggy Lee's Bio-Discography:
The MacGregor Transcriptions

by Iván Santiago-Mercado

Page generated on Dec 12, 2018




Preliminary Notes

Contents. Peggy Lee recorded a total of 17 numbers on behalf of MacGregor Transcriptions, a company that specialized in making recordings for radio airplay only. The 17 performances were cut over four sessions and originally sent to radio stations in the form of three 16" shellac transcription discs, each playing at a 33 r.p.m. speed. (A few of these 17 numbers did double duty. In addition to being released on Lee's own discs, such numbers were incorporated to transcription discs which MacGregor marketed as radio shows hosted by Nat King Cole, Henry King, and possibly a few other male artists. The hosts introduce Lee's numbers as guest performances, and there is usually patter exchanged with the nominal guest.) The Library of Congress possesses copies of the entire MacGregor catalogue (or, at the very least, the bulk of it), including those just described. Consult this page's final note if you are a viewer interested in additional details about the MacGregor company -- or if you would like to learn other general details about Lee's MacGregor output.

Captions. Here are some explanations for -- and descriptions of -- the images seen above, starting with the lady's and the gentleman's photos. A Peggy Lee portrait graces the front cover of a cassette entirely dedicated to her MacGregor transcriptions. Owner C.P. MacGregor is captured near a company microphone, reading from a script. Also in view: two MacGregor transcription discs, shown here for illustration purposes. (This couple of images should give readers a better understanding of the points made in the previous paragraph.) These are pictures of discs containing episodes from two MacGregor radio shows, one titled Nat King Cole Trio and the other The Sextet From Hunger. Both shows added the occasional Lee "guest" performance to its transcribed episodes. (I should specify that the discs in view are not, however, among the ones that used Lee material, and which will be listed in the sessions below. I simply lack pictures for those. As for Lee's own discs, photos of them will be shown down below, in the corresponding sessions.)

Organization. A note about how this page is structured. Under each Peggy Lee performance, a list of commercial issues has been chronologically arranged, by year of release.  I have aimed at listing every single issue (e.g., any LP, any CD ) in existence, with the following exceptions:  various-artists compilations, foreign editions of domestic issues, and MP3 files. (Click on the blue links if you want to see separate, miscellaneous pages fully dedicated to the categories in question. In the case of the MP3 category, I have chosen to make very limited mention of such a format in my work; I consider it a non-physical configuration of ephemeral value and, generally speaking, inherently poor sound quality.) One more organizational point. Having been frequently released, some of Lee's MacGregor performances have very lengthy lists of issues under them. This page allows viewers to handle such long listings through a "hide-or-reveal" option: any performance that has been released more than three times will feature a blue arrowhead next to that third item. Click on the given arrowhead if you want to inspect the rest of the issues list.


Recommendations For Listening. A note about commercial releases. Under each and every Peggy Lee interpretation, I have endeavored to recommend at least one issue, with preference given to CDs and audiophile vinyl. Throughout the page, my recommendations can be quickly spotted because their titles are in uppercase and boldface. You will see, for instance, that an issue titled I've Had My Moments is among those which I recommend.  Another one is a CD titled Peggy Lee With The Dave Barbour Band, on Laserlight Records. I must regretfully confess to offering these recommendations of mine in a halfhearted manner. Simply put, Lee's MacGregor performances have yet to be released in an issue that can be highly recommended. While hoping for the eventual appearance of such a release, the issues that I am momentarily recommending might not boast optimal sound quality, but they still raise a few notches above the rest. They do so either by offering a comprehensive program of MacGregor performances or by counting with rare, otherwise unavailable tracks.  (On the matter of worthwhile issues, you might also want to explore this pictorial page, particularly its first section.)


Date: January 1945
Location: C. P. MacGregor Studios, 729 South Western Avenue, Hollywood, Los Angeles
Label: MacGregor

Peggy Lee (ldr), Dave Barbour And His Orchestra (acc), Henry J. "Heinie" Beau (cl), Herbert "Herbie" Haymer (ts), Billy May (t), Dave Barbour (g), Phil Stephens (b), Edwin "Buddy" Cole (p), Tommy Romersa (d), Peggy Lee (v)

a. MMo 677-EMaster Take (MacGregor) Sugar (That Sugar Baby Of Mine) - 2:39(Sidney Mitchell, Edna Alexander Pinkard, Maceo Pinkard)
Glendale Collectors' Label LPGl 6023 — You Can Depend On Me   (1981)
Starline Collectors' Label cassetteSlc 61008 — I'VE HAD MY MOMENTS   (1987)
Delta's LaserLight Digital Licensed CS/CD15742 — PEGGY LEE WITH THE DAVE BARBOUR BAND ("The Jazz Collector Edition" Series)   (1991)
b. MMo 677-EMaster Take (MacGregor) Don't Blame Me - 2:47(Dorothy Fields, Jimmy McHugh)
Glendale Collectors' Label LPGl 6023 — You Can Depend On Me   (1981)
Starline Collectors' Label cassetteSlc 61008 — I'VE HAD MY MOMENTS   (1987)
Delta's LaserLight Digital Licensed CS/CD15742 — PEGGY LEE WITH THE DAVE BARBOUR BAND ("The Jazz Collector Edition" Series)   (1991)
c. MMo 677-EMaster Take (MacGregor) Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea - 1:33(Harold Arlen, Ted Koehler)
MacGregor Transcription DiscProgram No. 1 — [Eddie Skrivanek's Sextet From Hunger] The Sextet From Hunger Show   (1945)
d. MMo 677-EMaster Take (MacGregor) I Get The Blues (When It Rains) - 2:54(Marcy Klauber, Harry Stoddard)
Starline Collectors' Label cassetteSlc 61008 — I'VE HAD MY MOMENTS   (1987)
e. MMo 677-EMaster Take (MacGregor) You Can Depend On Me - 1:28(Charlie Carpenter, Louis Dunlap, Earl 'Fatha' Hines) / arr: Henry J. "Heinie" Beau
Glendale Collectors' Label LPGl 6023 — You Can Depend On Me   (1981)
Delta's LaserLight Digital Licensed CS/CD15742 — PEGGY LEE WITH THE DAVE BARBOUR BAND ("The Jazz Collector Edition" Series)   (1991)
Musicrama/Actual Public Domain CD(United Kingdom) 7 85118 2 [re-pressed 2001] — Gone With The Wind   (1995)
All titles on: MacGregor Transcription DiscLb. 130/131   (1945)
Orthotone / United Transcription Disc(Canada) UTS 1486-1487    (1945)





Masters

1. "Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea"
2. "I Get The Blues When It Rains"

Of Peggy Lee's 17 MacGregor transcription masters, 15 have been issued on CD. The two performances not yet on CD happen to be from the present session: "Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea" (available only on 16" transcription disc) and "I Get The Blues" (available on the same 16" transcription disc, and also on a long-out-of-print cassette release). The Library of Congress owns a copy of the transcription disc in question (MacGregor Lb 130/131).

For the benefit of record collectors in search of the two aforementioned performances, I should further clarify that Peggy Lee recorded more than one transcription version of these two songs. Details about a widely available version of "Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea" can be found in the World Transcriptions page of this discography. A commercially available version of "I Get The Blues" is listed in the discography's War & Government Transcriptions page.


Songs

1. "Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea"
On the label of MacGregor disc Lb. 130/131, the title of Arlen and Koeler's 1931 standard " is given in truncated form: "Devil And Deep Blue Sea."


Photos, Issues, And Dating

1. MacGregor Lb. 130/131 [Transcription Disc]
MacGregor transcription discs have two numbers, one per side. All five performances listed on this session are on side 130 of MacGregor transcription disc 130/131. Both sides of the disc are pictured above, but flip side #131 is discussed in the notes under the next session (My apologies for the poor resolution of these black & white photocopies. If any viewer has finer scans and can send them to me via email, I would appreciate receiving them.)

2. The Sextet From Hunger Show [Transcription Disc]
This transcription disc features episode #1 and #2 of a program hosted by a dixieland sextet known as The Sextet From Hunger. Peggy Lee is the guest on the first episode, Martha Tilton on the second. Led by Eddie Skrivanek, The Sextet From Hunger featured piano by Charles La Vere) along with bass, drums, trumpet, trombone, and an alternation of clarinet or sax -- the latter by Blake Reynolds. Throughout both episodes, the heard performances are actually MacGregor transcription recordings, rather than numbers sung on the spot of a made-up radio show. (In other words, the MacGregor company pieced together the episodes of this so-called show by assembling already recorded MacGregor numbers.) Finally, I should acknowledge that the date on which this transcription disc was released for radio syndication is unknown to me. I have tentatively assigned it a 1945 date. The other possible options range from the remainder of the mid 1940s all the way to the mid 1950s.


Labels

1. Orthotone
2. United Transcribed System
Orthotone was MacGregor's subsidiary in Canada; United its distributor there. The Canadian discs are not always duplicates of the American ones, however. Orthotone sometimes reshuffled the order of the songs, and could also change the artist pairings found on the MacGregor discs.

All of Peggy Lee's MacGregor masters might have been transcribed on Orthotone, although I have evidence for only two of them. One is lised in this session, the other in the next session.

3. Orthotone 1486-1487
Side #1486, contains the following five numbers by Wesley Tuttle And The Coon Hunters: "I’m A’Ridin’ The Rails," "Ten Years," "Mother's Prayer," "Fire Ball Mail," and "Fox Chase." Side #1487 contains the four Peggy Lee performances listed under this session. My 1945 dating of the Orthotone disc is tentative, and definitely in need of corroboration.


Date: January 1945
Location: C. P. MacGregor Studios, 729 South Western Avenue, Hollywood, Los Angeles
Label: MacGregor

Peggy Lee (ldr), Dave Barbour And His Orchestra (acc), Henry J. "Heinie" Beau (cl), Herbert "Herbie" Haymer (ts), Billy May (t), Dave Barbour (g), Phil Stephens (b), Edwin "Buddy" Cole (p), Tommy Romersa (d), Peggy Lee (v)

a. MMo 678-EMaster Take (MacGregor) September In The Rain - 3:13(Al Dubin, Harry Warren)
MacGregor Transcription DiscProgram No. 2 — [Nat King Cole] King Cole Court   (1950)
Glendale Collectors' Label LPGl 6023 — You Can Depend On Me   (1981)
Take 16 Public Domain CD(Denmark) 8013 — Peggy Lee ("16 Great Songs" Series)   (1990)
b. MMo 678-EMaster Take (MacGregor) You Turned The Tables On Me - 2:39(Louis Alter, Sidney Mitchell)
MacGregor Transcription DiscProgram No. 46 — [Henry King] King At Court   (1950)
Starline Collectors' Label cassetteSlc 61008 — I'VE HAD MY MOMENTS   (1987)
Redmond Nostalgia Collectors' Label commercial CDr/MP3Cd 214 — [Henry King] The Henry King Show, Programs 37 And 46 {Les Paul Trio, Peggy Lee}   
c. MMo 678-EMaster Take (MacGregor) My Last Affair - 2:53(Haven Johnson)
Glendale Collectors' Label LPGl 6023 — You Can Depend On Me   (1981)
Delta's LaserLight Digital Licensed CS/CD15742 — PEGGY LEE WITH THE DAVE BARBOUR BAND ("The Jazz Collector Edition" Series)   (1991)
Castle Communications Licensed CS/CD(United Kingdom) Mat Mc/Cd 316 — Let There Be Love; The Best Of Peggy Lee   (1994)
d. MMo 678-EMaster Take (MacGregor) I've Had My Moments - 3:07(Walter Donaldson, Gus Kahn)
MacGregor Transcription DiscProgram No. 46 — [Henry King] King At Court   (1950)
Glendale Collectors' Label LPGl 6023 — You Can Depend On Me   (1981)
Starline Collectors' Label cassetteSlc 61008 — I'VE HAD MY MOMENTS   (1987)
All titles on: MacGregor Transcription DiscLb. 130/131   (1945)
Orthotone / United Transcription Disc(Canada) UTS 1490-1491    (1945)





Photos

Two MacGregor transcription discs featuring selections by Henry King, whose so-called MacGregor radio show will be discussed below.


Songs

1. "September In The Rain"
On the label of MacGregor disc Lb. 130/131, the title of Dubin and Warren's 1937 standard "September In The Rain" is incorrectly given as "That September In The Rain."


Issues And Sources

1. MacGregor Lb. 130/131 [Transcription Disc]
MacGregor transcription discs have two numbers, one per side. All four performances from this session are on side 131 of MacGregor transcription disc 130/131. (The flip side, #130, is discussed in the notes under the preceding session.)

2. Orthotone/United Uts 1490/1491 [Transcription Disc]
3. Ray Eberle
Orthotone discs also bear two numbers, one per side. Side #1491 contains the Peggy Lee performances listed in this session. Side #1490 features Ray Eberle vocals. My 1945 dating of the disc is tentative, and thus in need of corroboration. Furthermore, there is a bit of uncertainty about the catalogue numbers on the disc; they could be 490 and 491, instead of 1490 and 1491. For additional detail about Orthotone, consult notes under the previous session.

4. King At Court [Radio Show]
5. The Henry King Show [CD]
"The Henry King Show" is the title of a Redmond Nostalgia CD that contains two episodes of a transcribed radio series. Episode #37 features the Les Paul Trio as King's guest, while Peggy Lee does the honors in episode #46. The CD has no liner notes, nor do its (front, back) cover offer any further information about the episodes

I have only minimal information about the radio show from which the two episodes stem. Since it was officially known as King At Court, the program could have had a loose connection with the similarly named King Cole At Court, hosted by Nat King Cole. (Maybe the two were offered to subscribing MacGregor stations as "sibling versions," which could be alternated in the same time slot? Or maybe there was no link between them, aside from the coincidental inclusion of the word "King" and the MacGregor origination.)

According to the online database of the Library of Congress (where the C.P. MacGregor masterbook and library reside nowadays) the show was current from 1946 to, at the very least, 1948. In episode #46, certain comments made by the announcer and the singer allow us to circumscribe the episode's original date to no earlier than 1948 (the year in which "Mañana" became a hit) and no later than 1950 (Lee's last year of marriage to Barbour). I have chosen a 1950 dating for the time being. I hope that more precise information will be uncovered in the future; the correct year of release could end up being instead 1949, or 1948.

Incidentally, the show's announcer refers to Peggy Lee's guest appearance as a "return visit." Hence there must have been at least one previous Lee showing, about which I do not have any information at the moment.

Let's take a closer look at Lee's participation in episode #46. She starts off with the following bit of patter: "This is Peggy Lee, ladies and gentlemen, and may I say, it's nice of you all to invite me over for the show. I always enjoy singing and naturally welcome the opportunity of being a part of any program where good music is the ordered thing. By way of contribution, however small, I'd like to review one of the old favorites that always seem to bring pleasant memories for me. Hope it will for you, too. Goes like this."

We then hear Lee sing "I've Had My Moments." Afterwards, she and Arlington engage in the following conversation:

Arlington: Peggy, Peggy Lee, come back here, Peggy. You know that was swell, and you know we just got to have more.
Lee: Well, alright, I'm ready, you just say when.
Arlington: Well, Peggy, we'd kind of like to know what's going on with you and Dave Barbour, your husband, in the realm of music nowadays. New records, television, and so on I suppose?
Lee: Well, Charles, Dave and I are pretty much on the active side of things these days and very happy about it all, too. Our records are still coming off the presses with a certain amount of regularity and every now and then there is a television show and there's been a lot of personal appearances to take out any spare time from radio, records, and TV, you know.
Arlington: Ha, ha, say, that does make for a right active existence, doesn't it, Peg!?
Lee: Yes, I almost forgot we have to squeeze a little time for songwriting, too!
Arlington: Ha, ha, ha, for songs like "Mañana," huh?
Lee: Um-h-umm.
Arlington: Well, say, with a busy schedule like that I guess we better go on the move if we ever expect another song right now.
Lee: Always gonna make time for a song, Charles. What's you wish?
Arlington: Well, anything that meets with your approval, Peggy.
Lee: Closer not said than done. If the maestro will make with a little music I'd like very much to move in with this.

A Lee interpretation of "You Turned The Tables On Me" is subsequently heard. After it finishes playing, the songstress bids adieu: "Thank you ladies and gentlemen, I've enjoyed being here with all of you very much, and I hope that we can take up here in the hall soon. Until then, goodbye."

As the episode comes to its full closure, announcer Charles Arlington states that the show was "produced and transcribed in Hollywood, the cinema's showplace of the nation, by C. P. MacGregor." This disclaimer means to convey the fact that The Henry King Show was a pre-recorded program, sent to radio stations which subscribed to the MacGregor transcription service. As for the Lee vocals that are heard during the broadcast, they are actually pre-recordings: in other words, those are her above-listed MacGregor transcription recordings, not numbers expressly sung for the radio episode.

Obviously, the show's creating company (MacGregor) wanted listeners to believe that the guest was not only conversing with the announcer but also singing on the spot, when in reality the singing had been pre-recorded, and the conversation was scripted. What's more, the singer and the announcer might have not even gathered together for their conversation. Since they were reading from a script, their respective parts of the dialogue could have been separately recorded.


Date: January 1945
Location: C. P. MacGregor Studios, 729 South Western Avenue, Hollywood, Los Angeles
Label: MacGregor

Peggy Lee (ldr), Dave Barbour And His Orchestra (acc), Henry J. "Heinie" Beau (cl), Herbert "Herbie" Haymer (ts), Billy May (t), Dave Barbour (g), Phil Stephens (b), Edwin "Buddy" Cole (p), Tommy Romersa (d), Peggy Lee (v)

a. MMo 694-E /MMo1198DSMaster Take (MacGregor) That Old Gang Of Mine - 2:35(Mort Dixon, Ray Henderson, Billy Rose)
Starline Collectors' Label cassetteSlc 61008 — I'VE HAD MY MOMENTS   (1987)
Take 16 Public Domain CD(Denmark) 8013 — Peggy Lee ("16 Great Songs" Series)   (1990)
Music International Public Domain CS/CDP 6014/6002 — Old Favorites   (1992)
b. MMo 694-E /MMo1198DSMaster Take (MacGregor) I'm Beginning To See The Light - 2:34(Duke Ellington, Don George, Johnny Hodges, Harry James)
Starline Collectors' Label cassetteSlc 61008 — I'VE HAD MY MOMENTS   (1987)
Music International Public Domain CS/CDP 6014/6002 — Old Favorites   (1992)
Dana Public Domain cassette__ — Four Ladies Of Song {Rosemary Clooney, Peggy Lee, Patti Page, Dinah Shore}    (1994)
c. MMo 694-E /MMo1198DSMaster Take (MacGregor) Baby, Won't You Please Come Home - 1:51(Charles Warfield, Clarence Williams)
Take 16 Public Domain CD(Denmark) 8013 — Peggy Lee ("16 Great Songs" Series)   (1990)
Music International Public Domain CS/CDP 6014/6002 — Old Favorites   (1992)
Gold/San Juan Music Public Domain CD(Netherlands) Gold 055 — Peggy Lee Gold (San Juan's Series)   (1993)
d. MMo 694-E /MMo1198DSMaster Take (MacGregor) I'm Confessin' (That I Love You) - 2:36(Don Dougherty, Al J. Neiburg, Ellis Reynolds)
Starline Collectors' Label cassetteSlc 61008 — I'VE HAD MY MOMENTS   (1987)
Hughes Leisure Group Public Domain CD(Australia/New Zealand) Stb 8849 — Peggy Lee ("20 Golden Greats / Starburst" Series)    (1994)
Hallmark Public Domain CD(United Kingdom) 705462 — Peggy Lee Gold (Hallmark's Series)   (1995)
All titles on: MacGregor Transcription DiscLb. 143/144   (1945)
MacGregor Transcription DiscLb. 641/642   (1950)
Glendale Collectors' Label LPGl 6023 — You Can Depend On Me   (1981)


Issues, Masters, And Dating

1. MacGregor Lb. 143/144 [Transcription Disc]
Discs from transcription companies such as MacGregor were given two catalogue numbers -- one per each side. The four performances that I have listed under this date are all on side #144 of a disc whose other side (#143) contains performances by Thomas Peluso.

2. MacGregor Lb. 641/642 [Transcription Disc]
The exact same Peggy Lee performances on MacGregor Lb 143 were reissued on MacGregor disc 642. Its flip side (#641) contains recordings by Les Paul with Trudy Williams on vocals, none of which seem to be reissues.

3. Matrix Numbers [Transcription Discs]
This session's songs have two matrix numbers. MMo 694, the original master number, is connected to MacGregor disc 143/144. When the songs on side #144 were reissued on MacGregor disc 641/642, there was an assignation of a new matrix number (MMo 1198).

4. Dating Of MacGregor Lb. 641/642 [Transcription Disc]
I do not know the date on which the MacGregor service prepared and sent out disc 641/642 to radio stations. Sequentially, a disc number as high as 642 (compared to 144) suggests a late 1940s date.

Discographer Charles Garrod has attached a January 1948 date to MacGregor disc sides #497 and #506. He has also attached an April 1948 dating to disc side #531. Unfortunately, Garrod does not explain the source or rationale behind those dates. If they are correct (and there is room for doubt), then we could speculate that the correct syndication release date for MacGregor disc #641/642 falls between 1948 and 1949. (I have ended up choosing instead an approximate 1950 date because it allows for a better sequential flow of this discography's ET index.)


Date: January 1945
Location: C. P. MacGregor Studios, 729 South Western Avenue, Hollywood, Los Angeles
Label: MacGregor

Peggy Lee (ldr), Dave Barbour And His Orchestra (acc), Henry J. "Heinie" Beau (cl), Herbert "Herbie" Haymer (ts), Billy May (t), Dave Barbour (g), Phil Stephens (b), Edwin "Buddy" Cole (p), Tommy Romersa (d), Peggy Lee (v)

a. MMo 695-REMaster Take (MacGregor) Someday, Sweetheart - 2:17(Benjamin Spikes, John Spikes)
Starline Collectors' Label cassetteSlc 61008 — I'VE HAD MY MOMENTS   (1987)
Musicrama/Actual Public Domain CD(United Kingdom) 7 85118 2 [re-pressed 2001] — Gone With The Wind   (1995)
b. MMo 695-REMaster Take (MacGregor) Gone With The Wind - 2:00(Herb Magidson, Allie Wrubel)
Music International Public Domain CS/CDP 6014/6002 — Old Favorites   (1992)
Gold/San Juan Music Public Domain CD(Netherlands) Gold 055 — Peggy Lee Gold (San Juan's Series)   (1993)
Musicrama/Actual Public Domain CD(United Kingdom) 7 85118 2 [re-pressed 2001] — Gone With The Wind   (1995)
c. MMo 695-REMaster Take (MacGregor) I Should Care - 3:46(Sammy Cahn, Axel Stordahl, Paul Weston)
Disky Licensed CD(Netherlands) 905191 — Peggy Lee ("Golden Greats" Series)   (2002)
Music Club Licensed CD(United Kingdom) Mccd 619 — Black Coffee; The Best Of Peggy Lee    (2007)
d. MMo 695-REMaster Take (MacGregor) Nice Work If You Can Get It - 2:23(George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin)
Starline Collectors' Label cassetteSlc 61008 — I'VE HAD MY MOMENTS   (1987)
Hallmark Public Domain CD(United Kingdom) 300862 [Reissue: 1999] — The Lady Is A Tramp [aka These Foolish Things] & Other Great Standards; from box Ladies Of Song]   (1995)
Hallmark/Carlton Public Domain CD(United Kingdom) 300862 [Reissue: 1999] — These Foolish Things & Other Great Standards [aka The Lady Is A Tramp; from box Ladies Of Song]   (1995)
All titles on: MacGregor Transcription DiscLb. 145/146   (1945)
Glendale Collectors' Label LPGl 6023 — You Can Depend On Me   (1981)
Delta's LaserLight Digital Licensed CS/CD15742 — PEGGY LEE WITH THE DAVE BARBOUR BAND ("The Jazz Collector Edition" Series)   (1991)
Capriole Public Domain CD(Germany) Hmr 1009 — Peggy Lee With The Dave Barbour Band; Nat King Cole Trio 1943/49, The Vocal Sides   (1997)
Great Voices Of The Century Public Domain CD(United Kingdom) Gvc 2006 — Oh La La Lee    (1999)
Proper Collectors' Label CD(United Kingdom) Box 108 — Miss Wonderful    (2006)





Issues & Photos

1. MacGregor Lb. 145/146 [Transcription Disc]
MacGregor discs bear different catalogue numbers on each side. All four performances listed under this date are on side #145 of a disc whose flip side (#146) contains numbers by Stan Kenton And His Orchestra. Both sides of the disc are pictured above.





GENERAL NOTES, PART I: THE MCGREGOR COMPANY


The MacGregor Company And Studio

The MacGregor Company And Studio was in the business of producing radio transcriptions -- i.e., discs leased exclusively to radio stations, for a fee. (Sent out to participating stations on a monthly basis, such discs were intended for broadcasting only. Hence they were neither available nor manufactured for retail. Besides, regular record players (i.e., those sold to the general public) were unable to play them.

From an advertisement placed in a 1947 radio magazine, the following text lists the variety of material that MacGregor featured in its discs: "MacGregor presents, for better programming, half hour presentations of – Drama / Mystery / Romance / Comedy, starring Hollywood personalities. Music library – basic 2,500 selections; 50 new tunes monthly. Available now." All those types of transcriptions were recorded and produced in the company's facilities.

(Images above: Chick MacGregor, photographed in the mid-1940s. Two MacGregor advertisements, the first in circulation around 1939, the second around 1956. A reference copy, cut at the MacGregor company; it has the full 12-track contents of Peggy Lee's 1960 album Latin Ala Lee.)


The C. P. MacGregor Studios

The MacGregor company's sources of revenue included not only its transcription service but also its studio facilities, which were available for leasing. According to Klaus Teubig, author of Straighten Up And Fly Right: A Chronology And Discography Of Nat King Cole, "MacGregor had Hollywood's largest and most modern recording studios during the early forties, which were used by many independent record producers such as Capitol Records, Exclusive, Dial, and AFRS (American Forces Radio Service)."

Further information about MacGregor's studio(s) can be found in the book Stan Kenton: The Studio Sessions, by Michael Sparke and Peter Venudor. The authors quote Audree Kenton, widow of Stan Kenton, who explains that "[w]e recorded in a very small studio, using the standard microphone set-up for those days. But [engineer] Vic Qu[o]n had great technical expertise, and had developed a system whereby everything sounded live when he recorded it, a sort of early echo chamber idea."


Chip MacGregor

The MacGregor Company and Studio was owned by Chick MacGregor (1897-1968), who spent much of his lifetime in the transcription business. After a few years of apprenticeship as a local manager for Brunswick Records in the San Francisco area, MacGregor became the co-owner of his first transcription company, named MacGregor & Ingram Recording Laboratories, in 1929. By 1932, he had apparently changed partners, forming as a result MacGregor & Sollie Recording Laboratories.

At some unknown time between 1937 and 1944, he founded The MacGregor Company And Studio, of which he apparently was sole owner. The entrepreneur appointed Paul Quon as the company's chief executive and Paul's brother Victor as the studio's recording engineer. (Victor Quon also worked, incidentally, as a musical director at CBS.) Contemporary press identifies a man named Orrin Nance as the company's publicity director.

The 1940s were the heyday of this enterprise. Due to its reputation as a state-of-the-art facility, the MacGregor Studio was in considerable demand during the decade's earliest years, and the MacGregor Company was reaping benefits from arrangements made with a variety of networks and record labels.

Although the popularity of transcriptions dwindled dramatically in the 1950s, MacGregor continued making and distributing them until at least one decade later, if not two. (Some MacGregor transcriptions have been given an early 1970s dating, which would mean that they were released after the company's owner had passed away.) In the 1950s and 1960s, the current MacGregor library would have consisted mostly of serials and variety programming, rather than music per se. But he still pursued alternative ways to profit from his music catalogue: in 1959, the courts ruled in his favor when one artist tried to prevent him from selling some music masters to a budget record label (Tops).

During the last last decade of his life, MacGregor also remained active in the transcription world though a position as the host of the Salvation Army's transcribed show Heartbeat Theatre.


Capitol Records And MacGregor Services

From 1942 to 1944, Capitol Records had a very active contractual agreement with MacGregor. Capitol's artists came to C. P. MacGregor Studios to record not only commercial material (for Capitol) but also radio transcriptions (for MacGregor). The September 23, 1944 issue of Billboard magazine reported that the ongoing arrangement between the two parties had been upgraded to exclusivity status:

"Deal has been set by C. P. MacGregor for exclusive recording contract with Capitol Records. Contract gives Capitol the exclusive services of the MacGregor studios for commercial disking, guaranteeing $1,000 per week in fees. New set-up calls for MacGregor to do waxing, after which masters will be turned over to Capitol for pressing at Scranton, Pa., plant. Terms of contract call for exclusive services of Benny Jordan, recognized as one of the top mixers and sound engineers in the biz. While MacGregor has been handling Capitol recording sessions for some time, new deal prohibits him from doing work for any other firm. [But] regular transcription recording service for radio stations and advertisers will be continued by MacGregor."

In his book Straighten Up And Fly Right: A Chronology And Discography Of Nat King Cole, Klaus Teubig quotes the next relevant article, from a Downbeat issue published on February 1, 1945. The magazine reports that "Capitol Records, which has used the facilities of C. P. MacGregor sound studios exclusively for recording purposes and for a time had a deal under which the sound firm's commercial phonograph facilities were available only to Capitol, has 'split' with MacGregor for unrevealed reasons." The February 3 issue of Billboard reported the same news at length, adding the transcription company's spin on the matter:

"MacGregor's spokesman says the studio is too busy with war work and handling its regular accounts ... Capitol's sessions were becoming so numerous that MacGregor studios was unable to give the proper time and attention to numerous Armed Forces Radio Service shows, its own musical and dramatic transcription series and advertising agency accounts. Dehydrating commercials and inserting special announcements and musical bridges and recording many of the major network broadcasts, including Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Metropolitan Opera, Hit Parade, etc., plus the army's own tailor-made programs for distribution via AFRS to servicemen overseas in itself amounts to 120 half-hour programs weekly. All this work obtains for MacGregor [a] priority rating. In addition, MacGregor is concerned about his post-war business from the agencies and his own transcribed library accounts. Since it is very likely that Capitol will build its own recording studio at the end of the war or as soon as materials are available, it probably is good business for MacGregor to make a break now."

Capitol gave an entirely different spin on the matter. The spokesman for record company pointed out that MacGregor had recently painted the walls of his studio, and as a result the studio was now "too live," even after an attempt at solving the matter by installing rock wool. The implication was that Capitol was too unhappy with the new sound of the studio to hold any further sessions there.

Adding to the Capitol perspective, this subject matter was also recounted in the memoirs of Capitol singer Margaret Whiting. "Johnny and Paul [Weston] always liked to use McGregor's [sic] ... because of the phenomenal sound," Whiting enticingly tells her readers.  "The story goes that after a recording session in the morning, everyone broke for lunch.  McGregor [sic], feeling flush with Capitol's success and the money it had given him, painted the studio's walls during the lunch break. When the engineers came back, they put on their earphones.  The afternoon session began.  Suddenly, everyone stopped.  The sound wasn't the same.  Mercer, Weston, everyone put on the earphones and listened.  What had happened?  M[a]cGregor confessed he had painted the walls.  In so doing, something had happened to the acoustics ... Johnny ... always talked wistfully about those halcyon days at M[a]cGregor's before the wall were painted."

The aforementioned Billboard reporter went to add that "a patching up [was] in order" -- or so was the word from Capitol's headquarters. But no such patching up took place. On the contrary, additional points of contention became exposed. The February 24, 1945 issue of Billboard revealed that MacGregor was demanding payment of an one-cent royalty fee for any side recorded in his studio, to be added to the standard mechanical charges. In addition to this one-cent-a-sie royalty, the company charged $50 per master (according to the April , 1945 25 issue of the same periodical). Two pieces of justification were given for the new fee:

"According to MacGregor, his firm has devoted many years and over $200,000 to building a 'know how' in the recording biz and therefore are entitled to participate in the success of records they make. Furthermore, declared MacGregor, the minute a new entry in the already crowded record biz is successful enough, it builds his own studio. So the only equitable means of sharing in the profits of such a new venture is to be in at the beginning."

The reporter correctly assumed that Capitol would not be willing to entertain the notion of paying royalties for studio usage. As the reporter reasoned, acceptance of MacGregor's proposal would have established a precedent with alarming consequences for the industry's statue quo: it would have brought into question why royalties were not also being granted to arrangers, bandleaders, singers, and other involved parties.

Capitol thus began the process of moving its Hollywood session work to alternate studios. February of 1945 is the last date for which I have found listings of MacGregor-conducted Capitol sessions. (For instance, a February 14, 1945 Ella Mae Morse date is reported to have taken place therein.) During the transitional months that had preceded and which would follow, various sessions were held as Paramount Studios, a location that became momentarily available thanks to the fact that one of Capitol's founders (Buddy De Sylva) was also an executive at the film emporium.

February of 1945 did not mark the full termination of the The Capitol-MacGregor relationship. Although the former did stop using the latter for commercial recording, some Capitol artists still continued to record transcriptions at MacGregor throughout the year. Stan Kenton did so as late as December 28, 1945. Nat King Cole might or might have not recorded additional transcriptions in the summer. The likeliest reason for the continuation of activity was the artist's need to complete a contractually predetermined amount of transcriptions. Once such contractual obligations were fulfilled, Capitol probably expected its artists to fully cut ties with the transcription company.

Meanwhile, Capitol reached a deal with Radio Recorders. Capitol might have started cutting the occasional date there in late 1944. However, it was not until the second half of 1945 that the label resorted to Radio Recorders on a consistent basis. From the onwards, most Hollywood-based Capitol record dates would take place at what the aforementioned Sparke and Venudor characterized as "the West Coast's leading independent" of its time.

Capitol did end up setting up its own transcription service, too. The operations began in May of 1945, though initially it moved at a slow pace, doing only ten transcription sessions during that first year. Thereafter, it went into full swing. From 1946 onwards, Capitol artists such as Nat King Cole, Stan Kenton, and Peggy Lee would record only for Capitol's transcription service. (The songstress' work for that service is detailed on this page.) Meanwhile, MacGregor continued its transcription program with other artists, including some who had been or would be affiliated to Capitol at some point in time -- artists such as Matt Dennis and Mel Tormé.


Types Of MacGregor Transcriptions: Music Library Versus Music Shows

MacGregor sent various types of music discs to the radio stations which subscribed to its service. One type of disc contains just songs, usually by one artist. Such transcriptions bear the prefix "LB." on the physical discs, an abbreviation that stands for the word "library." In logs and published listings, the more commonly found code is " CPM LB," which is likely to stand for "C.P. MacGregor library." Furthermore (and as will be further detailed below), the physical discs usually included a matrix number, prefixed by the letters "MM" or "MMo." From those listed on this page, take, for instance, MacGregor disc #CPM LB-145. When participating radio stations played it, listeners would hear a full four-song segment by Peggy Lee, beginning with "I Should Care" and ending with "Gone With The Wind."

Another type of MacGregor disc consisted of a pre-recorded radio show. As explained by Nat King Cole discographer Klaus Teubig: "[i]n addition to the normal 16" transcription discs, MacGregor offered complete 15-minute programs called King Cole Court with full announcements by Cole and a studio host with (guest) cuts from other MacGregor productions as Peggy Lee, Larry Stewart or Ray Eberle." The musical selections heard during the program, whether by Cole or by his guests, were not numbers recorded expressly for this radio show,. They were instead performances that had been culled from the "artist library" discs (i.e., the kind of MacGregor disc which I described in the previous paragraph).

To illustrate, let's take episode #2 of King Cole Court. The episode contained eight songs, all taken from MacGregor's music/artist library: seven songs from discs by The Nat King Cole Trio, and the remaining one a "guest cut" by Peggy Lee ("September In The Rain," from MacGregor transcription disc #CPM LB-131). Variations on this same procedure are evident in all other King Cole Court episodes listed by Teubig. (He gives us a total of six episodes, each including one guest vocal, by artists as diverse as Anita O'Day's and The Berrie Sisters).

In addition to King Cole At Court, other examples of MacGregor's transcribed music programs were The Sextet From Hunger Show and the aforementioned King At Court starring Henry King. There probably were plenty more, although so far I have not come across information on them.

One remaining matter about which I am curious is the dating of the syndicated radio shows under consideration. Sadly, such specifics have not been forthcoming in the cases of The Henry King Show and The Sextet From Hunger. As for the King Cole Court shows, Klaubig has no dates to offer, either. Another source refers to it as a 1950s series. I have tentatively followed that source's lead.


The United (Orthotone) Transcribed System

According to a producer's note in the booklet of the CD The King Cole Trio: The MacGregor Years, 1941-1945, "[m]any [MacGregor] transcriptions were licensed to a Canadian distributor, United Transcribed System [also known as Orthotone], which sometimes pressed direct from the original parts but which frequently dubbed the material onto new masters, sometimes changing the track sequence and invariably altering the sound quality, not for the better." Although that booklet's note refers specifically to Cole's transcription recordings, it probably applies to Peggy Lee's work for MacGregor, too. I assume that all of the songstress' work for MacGregor was pressed anew by United, although so far I have located only one UTS transcription disc featuring Lee. (See above, 2nd MacGregor session.)





GENERAL NOTES, PART II: PEGGY LEE'S MACGREGOR TRANSCRIPTION OUTPUT


Personnel Of Peggy Lee's MacGregor Sessions

The personnel of Peggy Lee's MacGregor transcriptions is identified in only one of the sources consulted: the Starline cassette I've Had My Moments. A collective personnel is listed for the tracks, which come from all four MacGregor sessions. Since Lee seems to have recorded all her MacGregor numbers during the same month (perhaps even the same day; see discussion about dating below), and since the musical backing sounds very similar throughout, the collective personnel given in the cassette may indeed apply to the entire 17-song batch.


Recording Process And Alternate Takes

On their aforementioned book (Stan Kenton: The Studio Sessions), Sparke and Venudor explain the manner in which all MacGregor transcriptions were waxed: "titles were not recorded in separate acetates, but were cut a program at a time, directly onto a 16" transcription master. Matrix numbers, preceded by MM for MacGregor Music, were awarded to this block of titles at the time of recording."

In other words, a full session of about four or five songs was recorded directly onto one disc, perhaps with the occasional alternate take included. From that "mother master," a secondary master disc was then made, with any spoken comments or any other interference edited out. The next step in the process was to transfer the date from the "secondary master" to the transcription discs that would be sent out to subscribing radio stations.

This method was not exclusively to MacGregor. Most transcription companies of the 1930s and 1940s appear to have operated in this manner. The transfer from "mother" to "secondary" ("daughter") disc is the reason why the extant logs of several transcription services show two master numbers next to each interpretation.

The use of this direct-to-disc process did not favor the recording of many alternate takes, let alone their preservation. Any such alternates would have been circumscribed to the "mother" master discs, whose preservation must be extremely rare in the cans of all transcription companies.

In the specific case of Peggy Lee's MacGregor sessions, I have no indication of their existence. My assumption is that the physical copies kept at the Library of Congress are merely discs sent out to the radio stations. Or perhaps they are "secondary masters." But could any of them be mother discs, containing the odd alternate take as well as dialogue or direction between performances? I doubt it. A modicum of hope can still be maintained, though: I am aware of the existence of a few alternates for another MacGregor artist (Stan Kenton).


Main Sources

MacGregor's master-books are currently owned by the Library of Congress.  I have not seen or consulted them. Naturally, they should be deemed a primary source of information, particularly when it comes to catalogue matters.

Being unable to check the master-books, I have relied instead on a pamphlet called MacGregor Radio Transcriptions, 1 To 920, published by Charles Garrod in 1990. Not an overly forthcoming writer, Garrod's acknowledgements are restricted to just one sentence: [t]hanks go to Sam Brylawski and Wynn Mattthias for their help." The author does not elaborate, but it must be noted that the thanked gentlemen were, at that point in time, curators and sound specialists at the Library of Congress' Recorded Sound section. It is thus very likely that the MacGregor master-books served as the basis for Garrod's pamphlet.

Garrod's work is best described as a sequential listing of the MacGregor electrical transcriptions, from Lb. 1 (four performances by The Don Thomas Orchestra) and Lb. 2 (another quartet of performances by The Don Thomas Orchestra) to Lb. 919 (six performances by The Les Paul Trio) and Lb. 920 (fives performances by Eddie Skrivanek). The Paul and Skrivanek sides bear matrix numbers 1442 and 1443, the Thomas sides 556 and 557.

As already mentioned, Garrod hardly offers any explanation of the pamphlet's contents. In fact, his full commentary can be copied and dispatched within this paragraph: "This series is but one of two MacGregor Radio Transcription Series. These were stdio recordings sessions that were put on 16 inc discs and leased to radio stations all over the country, Many of these releases are still around, in the hands of collectors, and can often be found at record collectors' conventions" and on auction lists." We are not told if matrix numbers preceding 556 were ever used, nor whether 1443 is the series' last matrix number. (I can only assume the latter to indeed be the last number, and 555 to be the closing number of the other MacGregor series to which Garrod alludes.) Garrod also leaves it to us to discover that some of the disc bearing high matrix numbers (i.e, 4,000 or so) are reissues of earlier ones. Those reissues do not use the original matrix numbers, but have new matrix numbers, which means that some MacGregor performances are tied to two different matrix digits.


Dating of Peggy Lee's MacGregor Discs & Sessions

Probably relying on such master-books, the library's online database gives a 1945 dating to all the MacGregor transcription discs which feature Peggy Lee. In other words, 1945 was the year on which those discs were originally made available for syndication.  

The library's database does not reveal, on the other hand, recording dates, and neither do the MacGregor master-books in its possession. (Or so I have been told.) There is no indication that session date information has been preserved anywhere else, exception on American Federation Of Musicians reports. The latter are not currently available for public perusal.

Fortunately, knowledge of the discs' release dates can provide us with clues. If we operate under the assumption that there is a short, months-long time span between the recording (#1) and distribution (#2) of most MacGregor performances, then the distribution dates can allow to postulate approximate recording dates.

Garrod provides a date (month and year) for almost all of the discs whose numbers fall between 1 and 120.  Thereafter, his supply of dates becomes infrequent and scarce.  The numbers for Lee's original MacGregor transcription discs are 130, 131, 144, and 145.  None of them are dated by Garrod, but his numerical sequencing points to January of 1945 as their likeliest time of "release" on transcription disc.  

(Bear in mind, however, that Garrod does not supply explanations in what is essentially a bare-bones list of transcription discs.  Hence I do not know how many of the dates on his pamphlet were acquired from the MacGregor master-books or any other reliable source, and how many qualify as mere assumptions on his part.  For what is worth, the first disc which he lists with a January 1945 dating is the one whose sides are numbered 109/110.  The last to which he gives the same date bears the numbers 185/186.  We are thus left with the implication that, for the month of January 1945, MacGregor released over 35 transcription discs into syndication.)

I do have concrete recording dates for the transcriptions of two other artists who were also under MacGregor contract, and who shared a Capitol connection with Peggy Lee:  Stan Kenton and Nat King Cole. For the latter,  pertinent information can be found in the booklet of the CD set The King Cole Trio:  The MacGregor Years, 1941-1945, produced by David Lennick.  Another worthwhile source is an online document prepared by the team of Will Friedwald and David Weiner, The King Cole Trio On MacGregor:  An Attempt At A Dated Listing.  Both sources show Cole starting his MacGregor recording activity on February 25, 1941.  There is also agreement on the closing year (1945), with January or February alternately suggested or speculated as the last month. I have come across additional sources in which the summer of 1945 is given as the final period, but I found no rationale, source or explanation in any of them.

(Incidentally, the CD set The King Cole Trio:  The MacGregor Years, 1941-1945 seems to err in its dating of a Cole session with Anita O'Day. That session is generally referred as O'Day's audition for Kenton. Since the team of Kenton and O'Day were already recording for Capitol by late 1944, her MacGregor session would have to date from earlier in 1944.  The date alleged on the CD --May 26, 1945-- might thus be off by a year.) 

Recording data is more solidly provided by Michael Sparke in his book Stan Kenton: The Studio Sessions (also credited to Peter Venudor).  Sparke inspected Kenton's AFM contracts. On May 11, 1944, the bandleader recorded sixteen songs onto four MacGregor transcription sides.  On January 8, 1945, he did sixteen more, for four additional sides. One of those last four sides was numbered 128, which is numerically close to two of Peggy Lee's own sides on MacGregor transcription (#130 & #131).  Another Kenton side was numbered 146, which is in turn numerically close to Peggy Lee's other two sides (#144 & #145).  We can thus postulate that these Kenton and Lee discs were released for syndication on the same month(s) -- January of thereabouts.

But, moving away from release dates, how about recording dates?  We have Kenton's, miss Lee's.  To try to pinpoint them, matrix numbers will naturally be more helpful than disc numbers.  Fortunately, Garrod provides them, too:  

matrix MM 671:  Disc side #128 (Stan Kenton)                                                                 
matrix MM 673: Disc side #146 (Stan Kenton) 
matrix MM 677: Disc side #130 (Peggy Lee)                                                                 
matrix MM 678: Disc side #131 (Peggy Lee)                                                                   

matrix MM 694: Disc side #144 (Peggy Lee)                                                                 
matrix MM 695: Disc side #145 (Peggy Lee)                                                       

If we are to assume that MacGregor numbered its sessions in chronological order, then Lee's masters 677 and 678 must date from around the same time as the 671 Kenton master.  In other words, all three sets of transcription masters probably date from the second week of January 1945.  Those numbered 694 and 695 could in turn be speculated to date from either later in January or, otherwise, February of 1945.







Photos

This section's photos illustrate and provide support for the comments that will be made in the next paragraphs. The above-shown items (top of the section) are the only ones to be entirely dedicated to Peggy Lee's MacGregor transcription tracks. In order of display their titles are September In The Rain (10" LP, Norma Records), You Can Depend On Me (12" LP, Glenda Records), Peggy Lee With The Dave Barbour Band (CD, LaserLight Records), and Peggy Lee With The Dave Barbour Band; Nat King Cole Trio 1943/49, The Vocal Sides (CD, Capriole Records). The latter can also be found in an edition which is identical but for the photo used on the front cover.

Right above (first column), I have supplied more photos of the first issue, September In The Rain (front cover and insert, back cover, vinyl disc with its label). The second column features two other albums from the same series: Betty Madigan's Betty (NLP 1029; front cover) and Jeri Southern's Jeri (NLP 1016; back cover, vinyl disc with its label). The back cover of Jeri lists nine Candlelite 10" LPs, including September In The Rain but excluding Betty.

Down below, there is an array of commercial issues containing MacGregor masters, all of them issued by that company itself under the names MacGregor Records and MacGregor Transcriptions. (Peggy Lee is not heard in any of them. They are featured here as aids to the discussion that will ensue.) The first two images belong to Al Perry And His Singing Surf Riders' Hawaiian Magic (10" LP), the next two to Stan Kenton And His Orchestra (EP) and Fenton Jones' Square Dances (10" LP). The second row features the physical labels on each of the three discs, along with that a fourth MacGregor issue for which I have not provided front cover artwork (Eddie Skrivanek's Sextette From Hunger, Volume 2, 10" LP).


Commercial Issues Of Peggy Lee's MacGregor Transcriptions

Transcription discs were originally made for syndicated radio broadcast, not for retail. From their appearance in the 1920s to their decline in the 1950s, they were virtually unavailable to the general public, who would have needed special equipment to play them. Nevertheless, this state of affairs did not turn out to be a permanent one. By the late 1940s and early 1950s, a few transcription companies were dipped into retail.

Leaving aside the hypothetical existence of a couple of LPs which I for one have never seen (and whose dim footprints will receive discussion in the next section), no retail releases of Peggy Lee's MacGregor recordings came into being until the 1980s. During that decade, two mail order labels issued them to the public. Both labels had p.o. box addresses in Glendale, California. One of them, called Glendale Records, released 14 of the 17 numbers on a LP titled You Can Depend On Me in 1981. Glendale's LP includes the following statement in its record sleeve: "All selections released for the first time / Material licensed from the archives of C. P. MacGregor Library / Photos from the collection of Ron Towe." (Towe was the author of an unpublished bio-discography of Peggy Lee. He is said to have owned an extensive collection of Lee memorabilia.) The other company, Starline Records, released 10 of the 17 numbers in a cassette titled I've Had My Moments (1987).

In 1991, the record label Laserlight made Lee's MacGregor songs part of the compact disc era. Laserlight's CD Peggy Lee With The Dave Barbour Band is actually a reissue of the aforementioned Glendale LP, with the same tracks but different title, artwork, and notes. The entire contents of the CD were also reissued in 1997 by the German label Capriole, in a twofer of sorts: it combines the contents of two Laserlight issues, the other one being a Nat King Cole CD, from which Capriole took only the vocal sides.

In the years that followed the Laserlight release, an ever-growing number of public domain labels appropriated and re-released the MacGregor material. Their CDs often mixed these transcriptions with Peggy Lee's studio recordings, and with performances taken from various radio sources.

During the ongoing twenty-first century, Peggy Lee With The Dave Barbour Band still remains the most adequate choice for fans who want to own the bulk of Lee's MacGregor output. The CD contains 14 of her MacGregor transcriptions in unobjectionable sound quality. It is, nevertheless, an unattractive budget issue, and by now no longer in print. Despite the rapid shrinking of the CD market, I am still hoping for a future release of all 17 MacGregor numbers in a CD with informative liner notes and appealing artwork.


Norma, MacGregor And Candlelite: Mysterious And Mystical Peggy Lee Albums

The aforementioned 1981 album You Can Depend On Me (Glendale Records) is one of only two LPs dedicated exclusively to Lee's MacGregor transcription recordings.  The other one is a 1998 release titled September In The Rain, on Norma Records.  I am dedicating the present sub-section to discussing the possibility that two more Lee MacGregor LPs might have been issued in the 1950s and/or 1960s.  I am supporting such a possibility despite the fact that I have never sighted either "mythical" album, nor have I found any solid corroboration for the existence of either one.  To explain the rationale behind my conviction, we will first need to spend a few paragraphs examining September In The Rain and the label on which it was released.

Norma Records

A Japanese-market label, Norma Records was in operation from the 1990s to the 2000s.  If word of mouth is to be trusted, the label was a bootlegger which had to shut down its business after facing one or more lawsuits.  During its years of activity, it presented itself as a distributor and reissuer of vintage, relatively obscure jazz titles by both instrumentalists (e.g., Dick Katz' Kool For Katz, Lou Levy's Touch Of Class, Johnny Raducanu's Jazz In Trio, etc.) and female vocalists (e.g., Fran Lacey's Fran!, Lita Roza's Drinka Lita Roza Days, Annie Ross' Annie By Candlelight, Pinky Winters' Pinky).  Most if not all of the mentioned albums were released on the label's so-called Collectors' Series (with catalogue numbers from the 5000s to the 7000s) and obis prominently featuring the wording N Presents.

Another sizable portion of the label's catalogue consisted of reissues whose front covers carried a yellow sticker identifying them as part of a "Rare Item Collection" series. Those carry catalogue numbers in the 1000s and 2000s.  Many of them also have the peculiarity of being 10" LP pressings, despite dating from the 1990s.  They appear to be straight replicas of original 10" LPs from the 1950s (same artwork, same 10" size). 

September In The Rain is one of the titles in such a "Rare Item Collection" series.  It includes eight of the 17 titles that Peggy Lee recorded for the MacGregor transcription service.  Norma issued it on December 25, 1998, exclusively for the Japanese market.  

Candlelite Records

The 1998 album is also part of a sub-series of at least ten Norma LPs.  They are by female artists of a certain vintage:  Mindy Carson, Connie Francis, Peggy King, Peggy Lee, Monica Lewis, Betty Madigan, Ginny Simms, Keely Smith, Jeri Southern, and Jo Stafford.  (There could be more, of which I am not yet aware.)  Norma is said to have issued some of these 10-inch LP items on CD as well -- specifically, the items by Mindy Carson, Peggy King, and Monica Lewis. Not September In The Rain, though.  In passing, I can report having seen Norma CDs of albums in its Collectors' Series, but not yet any of those belonging to the Rare Item Collection series.) In addition to featuring female vocalists, another common denominator of these Norma albums is that they paradoxically identify themselves as also belonging to a second label, Candlelite Records.  The most natural explanation for this duality is simply that Candlelite was the original issuer of these albums, and Norma their reissuer.  

Unfortunately, that explanation does not count with corroborating evidence.  For this discographer, the task of tracking down that hypothetical, earlier September In The Rain album is still ongoing. My search has led me to the inspection of two labels, in particular. Both bear the Candlelite name. One dates from the 1960s, the other from the 1970s. 
 
A Candlelite record company was founded in 1972 and probably closed in the early 1980s.  Operating from the New York area, it was a direct-marketing label that initially focused on 1950s musical nostalgia, and which advertised on tube stations such as New York's WNEW-TV.  Co-founded by Wesley Wood and promptly expanding its catalogue to country and rock, the label leased their material from the established record labels.  

I do not know if that Candlelite label issued 10" LPs, though.  Being a 1970s company, it seems unlikely.  Then again, the label's orientation toward nostalgia could have triggered a decision to manufacture 10" vinyl albums.  

An earlier Candlelite Records was founded by Wayne Stierle in 1960.  It was also a mail-order operation, with offices in New Jersey.  This label concentrated on rock 'n' roll and oldies.  From 1959 to 1961, a teenager Stierle is said to have also worked on re-releasing a series of recordings that had been gone unnoticed during their first time around. 

Both of these Candlelite labels were mail-order outfits.  That fact could account for the elusiveness of not only the Lee album but also the other Candlelite LPs listed on the back covers of Norma's reissues.

MacGregor Records

As already mentioned, some radio transcription services were branching into the world of retail music as early as the 1940s and 1950s.  MacGregor was one of them.  See, for instance, the Stan Kenton issue whose front cover is pictured down below (MacGregor EP 201), and which came out around October of 1953.  It is one of about 150 MacGregor retail releases that I have seen online.  They range from singles in the two main speeds to 33-rpm LPs.  

According to an announcement made on the September 29, 1956 issue of Billboard, the company had till then "restricted its commercial disk activity to the square dance and Western fields," but was just about to launch "a full line of pop singles and albums."  Not having found a listing of MacGregor's full LP catalogue, I suspect that the line was not widely distributed, and most of its issues might be seldom-seen rarities.

I am considering the possibility that one of such elusive rarities could be a release of .  Under this hypothetical scenario, the 1998 ten-inch LP on Norma Records would be a reissue of a ca. 1960s Candlelite 10" LP, which would in turn be a reissue of a ca. late 1950s MacGregor 10" LP.  One factor that is compelling me to speculate about the existence of a MacGregor ten incher is the similarity between the artwork of  (as displayed on the extant Norma item) and one of the MacGregor LPs pictured below.  I am referring to Hawaiian Magic (1957), credited to Al Perry And His Singing Surf Riders.  The color and the overall look are quite similar.  There is also a stress on the notion of "high fidelity recording" or "hi-fi sound" (though this promotional terminology is, admittedly, an all too common trait among LPs of that era).

Having now conveyed my thoughts on these two pursuits (i.e., the Candlelite and MacGregor versions of the 1998 album), I can only remind readers once more about the hypothetical nature of the discussion.  As of this writing, the 1998 Norma record is the only version of September In The Rain for which there is actual proof of existence. 


Statistics: Total Number Of Masters; Performances Not On CD

This discographical page shows a total of 17 masters, originally distributed over four transcription discs, meant for radio airplay one. Of those 17 performances, 14 have appeared on compact disc. The 3 numbers not yet on CD are:

"You Turned The Tables On Me"
Available only in two rare issues released by online mail order companies (as shown in the second session above).

"I Get The Blues (When It Rains)"
Issued in the cassette I've Had My Moments, which has been out of print for decades. (A different version of "I Get The Blues" is also commercially available. See page for War & Government Transcriptions, once it opens for viewing.)

"Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea"
Never commercially available. It can be heard only on MacGregor 16" transcription discs. (Numerous public domain CDs contain a Peggy Lee version of "Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea," but that's a different version, recorded by Lee for another transcription service, World Records.)







Sessions Reported: 4

Performances Reported: 17

Unique Songs Reported: 17

Unique Issues Reported: 77