In 1965, Charles Schultz, the creator of the popular Charlie Brown comic strip, unleashed “A Charlie Brown Christmas” animated TV special that has since become an enduring classic. It is few people from that time frame that do NOT remember the show and who cannot hum a few of those songs like the reverential “Christmas Time is Here.” 41 years has passed and yet those songs still hold interest.
This soundtrack was composed, adapted, arranged, and recorded by the popular Vince Guaraldi Trio and the music is as engaging now as it was all those years ago. Fantasy Records, in conjunction with Concord Records has remastered and expanded this well-remembered soundtrack adding 4 bonus tracks (alternate takes of some of these memorably classic tunes), dressing up the package to create a keep of an album.
The reissue of this classic album was produced by Cheryl Pawelski, remixed from original analog multi-track masters by Stephen Hart, and remastered by George Horn from Fantasy Studios in 2006. They have all excelled at revitalizing this amazing Christmas album; the sound is fantastic, crisp, and fresh. Guaraldi’s piano is stunning here and is heard spectacularly. Listen to “My Little Drum” and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
But the real memorable stuff like the unforgettable “Linus and Lucy” piano tune shines. There is the respectful air of “Christmas Time is Here,” with its piano version that leads into the song of the same name that includes the vocals of the Peanuts clan. There is the magical “Skating,” the heart-swelling “Hark, The Herald Angels Sing,” and the softer instrumental of “The Christmas Song.”
The bonus alternate take tracks included here are important inclusions to this new re-release. “Christmas Is Coming” has a decidedly jazzier sound and feel to it than the original track while songs like “The Christmas Song” (alternate) is a little more improvisational. “Christmas Time Is Here” is truncated by a minute and “Greensleeves” is jazzier. However, it is very clear by listening to these alternate takes that they had a very clear idea of what they wanted going in.
This reissued disc is in a tri-fold digipak with the tray photo a reproduction of the “Linus and Lucy” Fantasy label from the 45 single. The cover sports the original cover art, a plastic framed cartoon of the gang as they march around a Christmas tree. The booklet contains photos, credits, listings, and a 2006 essay by Joel Selvin. This set is well worth the money for fans of the TV show and, of course, fans of Vince Guaraldi.