It’s the time of year for saving money!
Tis the season to be… spooky!
And one of the most fun ways you can enjoy Halloween on your home entertainment systems is to put on Charles Schultz’s 1966 classic TV program It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! If you are a fan of Vince Guaraldi, who composed most of the music for the legendary Peanuts TV specials, you owe it to your self to pick up the original soundtrack which is now readily available in several fun variants. This year It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown celebrates the season dressed as a special pumpkin-shaped LP that is as much fun to look at spinning on your turntable as it is to play!
This album was originally issued several years ago as a single sided 12-inch LP (with custom laser etching on the non-music side). This new version plays a bit more like an old 10-inch LP from the 1950s (at least in terms of how much music there is on this album). Do go into this release knowing that it is a short but curiously satisfying listen — the original TV show was only 25 minutes long!
And don’t mix up this 21st century release with the children’s “read along” record version of the complete soundtrack issued in 1978 (including all the music and dialog pretty much as it appears on the TV special, click here to listen). The new version from Craft Recordings features just the music, however, and for that Vince Guaraldi fans are no doubt grateful.
It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown features all the music cues recorded by Vince Guaraldi and his band at Desilu Studio’s soundstage in Hollywood back in the day. Accordingly, there is a very different sonic footprint on this album than other Guaraldi albums which were recorded in more traditional music studios. That is not to say this is bad, but understand that it is Monaural music made for a 1966 animated children’s television show so there are inevitably compromises, especially for the tracks where sound effects and other overdubs were added.
Some tracks have a more compressed feel to them — perhaps to help the music stay out of the way of later added dialogue — while other tracks have more of that classic Guaraldi studio sound which many of us have grown to love over the years, with prominent acoustic bass and his classic piano playing front and center. It is that sound many of us adore from hits like “Cast Your Fate To The Wind” and on the A Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack.
Recently I watched It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown on Apple TV and it was very interesting as I hadn’t seen the show since I was a little kid. When it first aired we only had black and white TV but by the mid ’70s and into the ’80s I’m sure I’d seen it on TV at some point in color. Fast forward, it was kind of striking watching it streaming in (relative) HD video quality with a Dolby surround soundtrack! It looks pretty amazing. The music parts were still Mono but some of the sound effects and dialogue at times play in Stereo. The surround mix is basically like five channel stereo vs. a discrete multi-channel experience but it is interesting as it seems to sound a bit fuller.
Anyhow, if you are a Vince Guaraldi fan, you’ll no doubt want to get your hands on one of one of these sweet pumpkins. You might also find the album out there in other limited edition variants including glow in the dark and yellow moon colored vinyl as well as basic black. Whatever way you go, it is nice to finally have It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown on disc to fill a gap in our Vince Guaraldi collections. And just think, you won’t have to wait up all night in a pumpkin patch to wait for the Great Pumpkin to bring this fun soundtrack album right to your home!
Have a very happy and safe Halloween!