Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Finally Gets First Ever Serving on Vinyl for Special fiftieth Anniversary 180g 1LP Edition
It lastly hit me on a bleak ’n’ blurry wet Saturday morning in November as to why Vince Guaraldi’s music for the Peanuts animation franchise has touched the hearts of so many individuals all over the world — it’s genuinely uplifting, universally interesting music that may warmth up even the coldest of soul coals. And in these occasions of emotional upheaval and worldwide turmoil, it’s actually, actually good to have life-affirming music like this to maintain us afloat as we attempt, should you’ll pardon The Beatles’ reference, “take a tragic music and make it higher.”
By the best way, do you know that solely three albums of Peanuts music had been commercially launched throughout Vince Guaraldi’s lifetime? Don’t fear — I didn’t both, till I learn that factoid on the interwebs. Another fascinating element popped out at me within the official press launch supporting A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, the brand new LP I’m fairly appropriately reviewing at this time to duly honor this week’s impending vacation: “Along with Craft [Recordings’] It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and A Charlie Brown Christmas (the highest promoting Christmas album of all time), this [. . .] album creates the triumvirate of Guaraldi’s scores for the three most celebrated Peanuts’ specials.”
I’ve to confess once I first noticed the duvet for this all-new, first-time vinyl launch that celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the soundtrack to the Emmy-winning November 1973 TV particular A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, I was a little bit nervous that it is likely to be considerably of an underwhelming launch. I’ll have extra to say in regards to the LP’s cowl artwork a bit afterward, however once I appeared past that and began listening, I used to be humbled — and subsequently enthused — by the charming, indie-production really feel of this launch,
Curiously, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving has really been launched instantly from Lee Mendelson Film Productions (LMFP) out of Burlingame, California, as a substitute of on the core label that has been reissuing most of Vince Guaraldi’s Peanuts catalog instantly — the aforementioned Craft Recordings.
Now, if a few of you studying this is likely to be questioning simply who Lee Mendelson is — in brief, he’s the man who produced the unique Charlie Brown TV specials within the Sixties and ’70s, and he’s additionally the person who pinpointed bringing in then-rising jazz star Vince Guaraldi within the first place to create the musical voice for these great Peanuts applications.
The reality is, Guaraldi’s work for the Peanuts cartoon collection has lengthy since develop into totally iconic — music that’s near-inextricably linked to the visible imagery of the Peanuts characters themselves, has impacted hundreds of thousands globally, and continues to encourage those that uncover it yr after yr after yr.
From the official press launch, right here’s some background stats price noting: “This is the primary self-released album by Lee Mendelson Film Productions, Inc. (LMFP) — the 60-year-old manufacturing firm based by Lee Mendelson — and LMFP is thrilled to lastly deliver this whole soundtrack to the general public for the primary time ever. LMFP just lately found the unique studio session tapes within the vaults and transferred them to a high-resolution digital at 192kHz/24-bit for the blending and remastering of those tracks, as they did with Craft Recordings launch of It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown in 2022. A labor of affection, LMFP is happy to supply followers the chance to take pleasure in this music as a lot as they do, they usually hope to launch extra of the soundtracks from these beloved specials and the good Vince Guaraldi very quickly. . . . [L]iner notes give a track-by-track evaluation by Sean Mendelson, musician, document producer, and son of Peanuts producer Lee Mendelson. . . [along with] stills from the particular and a few pictures of the unique observe assignments for every instrument.” The LP’s again cowl additional confirms the session tape transfers got here from the 2-inch 16-track masters.
It has been fascinating to be reminded loads of this excellent music was comparatively buried beneath the dialogue within the A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving particular. So, listening to it for the primary time on a fine-sounding, well-centered, dead-quiet, 180g black vinyl urgent permits us entry to those wealthy and funky enjoyable — and successfully new Guaraldi Peanuts sounds from one of many three hottest Peanuts reveals ever — and in a really high-fidelity method, at that. It’s a particular vacation deal with certainly!
The SRP for the brand new 180g 1LP version of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is $31.99, and it may be ordered instantly from MVD proper right here.
The session gamers on A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving give us some essential cues to the funky undertow that attracts us inside this music. The lineup on these classes — formally notated on the again cowl because the Vince Guaraldi Quintet — consists of Guaraldi on keyboards and vocals, Seward McCain on electrical bass, Mike Clark on drums, Tom Harrell on trumpet and brass preparations, and Chuck Bennett on trombone.
“Funky undertow,” you ask? Yes, there is a soul-spirited funk-spunk inside Guaraldi’s music as crafted for the A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, impressed by the then-emerging East Bay Sound within the San Francisco Bay space. For these classes, Guaraldi tapped into the above-noted drummer Mike Clark, who helped pioneer that sound (together with fellow drummer David Garibaldi, of Tower of Power fame).
Herbie Hancock followers may also acknowledge Clark’s identify from the seminal mid-’70s funky-jazz-fusion releases Thrust (1974), Man-Child (1975), Flood (1975), and the Death Wish soundtrack (1974), however he additionally performed with the likes of Betty Davis and Alphonso Johnson. Clark was even in an incarnation of the enduring British progressive jazz fusion group Brand X, showing on September 1979’s Product and April 1980’s Do They Hurt?
According to the liner notes included in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, Clark roughly lower his musical enamel touring with Guaraldi within the early Seventies. The duo clearly had some synergy that pre-dated the Thanksgiving classes, so it seems Guaraldi wished to deliver a few of that vibe into this then-next-generation Peanuts music. For one factor, you’ll hear how Guaraldi labored with Clark on getting the grooves excellent on “Little Birdie” (Side A, Track 5), which options Guaraldi’s vocals as properly.
When you hear sure tracks on A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, they may have a extra modern-leaning and at occasions soulful vibe. This helps clarify a curious music title like “Is It James or Charlie?” (Side A, Track 7), which playfully refers back to the Godfather of Soul himself, James Brown. You’ll hear Guaraldi multitrack-layering up his piano sound with a Hohner clavinet (the electrical instrument popularized by Stevie Wonder on his smash 1972 hit “Superstition”), Fender Rhodes electrical piano, and Wurlitzer organ, in addition to periodic Latin percussion twists and wealthy horn sections.
This isn’t some drained retread of A Charlie Brown Christmas, of us. I do know that for a reality as a result of I reviewed A Charlie Brown Christmas final yr in its expanded 2LP type — a evaluation you’ll be able to learn proper right here.
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving was produced for this new 180g 1LP version by Sean and Jason Mendelson, remixed by Terry Carleton at Bones and Knives, and restored and mastered/remastered by Vinson Hudson. While authentic manufacturing credit weren’t instantly out there, a little bit sleuthing revealed one enjoyable element price noting — and a potential ID for the engineer too.
On the flipside of the included liner notes insert are reproductions of session recording sheets from Wally Heider Studios. If you look carefully at one among them, it playfully lists the producer as being “Peanuts,” which we’ll interpret as that means Vince Guaraldi for Lee Mendelson Film Productions. As for the engineer, it simply lists the identify “Ken.” I checked lots of my very own Guaraldi discs, and one among them lists an engineer at Wally Heider Studios named Ken Hopkins — so, whereas we don’t realize it for sure right now, there is certainly an excellent chance Hopkins is likely to be the exact same engineer behind these Thanksgivingrecordings.
Back to the music! As a full album pay attention, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving works very properly, although there are repetitive alternate takes included — resembling these displaying the event of “Thanksgiving Theme” and “Thanksgiving Interlude” on a lot of Side B. The grooving new “bonus” model of the traditional “Linus and Lucy” theme (Side B, Track 7) is super-rich with layered, haunting horns and a Harmon-muted trumpet solo. Also, there may be an alternate model of “Is It James or Charlie?” (Side B, Track 11) with whistling added in.
If you’ll open your thoughts for only a second, let me add that I can’t assist discover that some of those musical cues pre-echo the form of soul-jazz spun sound the Grateful Dead pursued on their very own albums from round this time (notably, June 1974’s From the Mars Hotel and September 1975’s Blues for Allah). Relative to that, it is usually price noting that Guaraldi was pals with the Dead, and he’s even included within the again cowl picture on their June 1969 album Aoxomoxoa. (If you’re a hardcore Guaraldi fan like we’re, you’ll seemingly geek out on all these little bits of nuance.)
I’m typically very pleased with the A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving LP launch, and if I’ve any gripe about it in any respect, it’s merely that this album deserves a greater cowl design. Don’t get me flawed — I do love the graphic on the duvet, which is little question a nonetheless pulled from the TV particular. Unfortunately, it seems fairly blurry right here, and the printing colours appear a bit off the mark as properly. For instance, Snoopy is successfully the identical colour because the sky behind him. Conversely, this in some methods underscores my earlier appreciation for the independently produced really feel of this challenge — clearly, the LMFP powers that be put their time and vitality into ensuring these recordings sounded nice, which is in the end an important factor. Maybe subsequent yr, they’ll improve the duvet artwork a bit for a deluxe version. (Fingers crossed.)
Now, should you simply need to placed on A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving for background throughout upcoming vacation festivities, worry not — it’s all going to work out positive! In reality, I think that A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving will assist your Turkey Day festivities step proper into the following Christmas-related vacation season extra easily than ever. We suppose it’s a good factor certainly to lastly have a lacking soundtrack hyperlink between these two holidays, which have admittedly develop into blurred and commercialized through the years.
Thing is, late November on by means of the New Year is a superb time to replicate on the previous yr and depend one’s blessings. I’m grateful that we are able to now add Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving to our vacation music playlists and respective turntable spins.
And, with that — all of us right here at AP want all of you a really protected and glad vacation season forward!
(Mark Smotroff is an avid vinyl collector who has additionally labored in advertising communications for many years. He has reviewed music for AudiophileReview.com, amongst others, and you may see extra of his spectacular C.V. at LinkedIn.)
A CHARLIE BROWN THANKSGIVING
ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK RECORDING
180g 1LP (LMFP)
1. Charlie Brown Blues
2. Thanksgiving Theme
3. Thanksgiving Theme (Reprise)
4. Peppermint Patty
5. Little Birdie
6. Thanksgiving Interlude
7. Is It James Or Charlie?
8. Linus And Lucy
9. Fife & Drums Theme
1. Charlie Brown Blues (Reprise)
2. Thanksgiving Interlude (Reprise)
3. Thanksgiving Theme (2nd Reprise)
4. Thanksgiving Theme (third Reprise)
5. Thanksgiving Theme (Alternate)
6. Peppermint Patty (Bonus Mix)
7. Linus And Lucy (Bonus Mix)
8. Thanksgiving Interlude (Alternate Take 2, 4, and 6)
9. Thanksgiving Interlude (Alternate Take 10)
10. Thanksgiving Interlude (Alternate Take 14)
11. Is It James Or Charlie? (Bonus Mix With Whistling)
12. Clark And Guaraldi
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November 21, 2023 at 10:48PM
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