When a spiffy new “green grass” colored vinyl copy of the original soundtrack to A Boy Named Charlie Brown arrived in the mail, I had to think for a few moments: why now? This is a special edition featuring the core Peanuts gang in living color emblazoned on bubblegum trading Baseball cards (included with the album).
Then the ball dropped from on high hitting me on the head like Charlie Brown on a good day: its Baseball season!
No, but seriously, I actually do like Baseball but I have not been following the teams for ages.
Anyhow, this new version of A Boy Named Charlie Brown is a very welcome addition to the collection for numerous reasons. First, the all analog mastering by Kevin Gray at Cohearant Audio sounds very very nice. The recording feels a bit bolder — and louder — than my 1964 original and the separation sweetly distinct, somehow seems a bit tighter yet maintaining that early widescreen Stereo vibe of the period. While there is no doubt a brighter presence to the new edition than my original it still sounds like the original so it was very easy to get used to and enjoy. No problems there.
The thick, (I assume) 180-gram dark green translucent vinyl pressing (a Target exclusive) is happily quiet and well centered. So all this is good as well.
Because there have been numerous variants of this album over the years, I thought it’d be helpful to run through them in case you go out shopping for this and get confused (and it is easy to do so with this album!).
In 1964 Vince Guaraldi’s sixth album was issued titled Jazz Impressions of A Boy Named Charlie Brown. This was the soundtrack to an unreleased documentary called A Boy Named Charlie Brown. Got that?
in 1972, the album was reissued with a shortened title A Boy Named Charlie Brown and sporting new cover art similar to the new edition shown here. The subtitle was at that time listed as “The Original Sound Track Recording of the CBS Television Special.” The label on the physical record, however, still says Jazz Impressions of A Boy Named Charlie Brown.
Still with me? Hang in as there’s more…
Many years later it was reissued again with the Baseball themed cover art and the A Boy Named Charlie Brown title but now the subtitle was reduced simply to: The Original Sound Track Recording.
In 1969, a separate and different album on Columbia Records was issued called A Boy Named Charlie Brown but which features different songs and dialogue as well as compositions by the Sherman Brothers (yes, of Disney fame). Guaraldi’s music is peppered around that release. The soundtrack album was called A Boy Named Charlie Brown: Selections from the Film Soundtrack issued on the Columbia Masterworks label. There was apparently a full length film at the time (as opposed to the shorter made-for-TV specials).
Anyhow, this is all quite a bit of record industry near skullduggery but perhaps it was just the nature of the times/place.
So going back to the new reissue of A Boy Named Charlie Brown at hand, the big question is do you need to get this edition? If you are like me and only have the original 1964 edition, I would certainly recommend getting this new edition. It sounds great and finding clean originals are not all that easy to come by — I’ve upgraded my copy numerous times over the years. Plus, unless you are a completist (like me) the new cover art is arguably better than the 1964 edition.
So, who’s on first? Charlie Brown and Vince Guaraldi, that’s who!