We're coming up on a couple of important anniversaries for Guaraldi's Peanuts music, and the first will land in about six weeks.
Guaraldi's first Peanuts album — Jazz Impressions of A Boy Named Charlie Brown — was released in December 1964. Technically, then, the album won't celebrate its 50th anniversary until the end of this year ... but Fantasy Records isn't waiting that long.
A limited-edition, collectible vinyl reissue of the original album will be released on May 13 by Fantasy, via the Concord Music Group. All concerned have worked hard to restore the original 1964 gatefold LP cover design, and the package also includes reproductions of the 8-by-10 Charles M. Schulz lithographs that were included inside first-edition releases.
Finally, the disc itself will be orange, as a nod toward Fantasy's original gimmick of issuing records on colored vinyl.
(Don't ask me why orange, rather than gold, which is appropriate for a golden anniversary.)
This collector's-edition vinyl will be readily available via Amazon and any music store willing to order and stock it.
In addition to this vinyl package, the album also will be re-released on CD on the same day (May 13), where it has been enhanced with 24-bit remastering by engineer Joe Tarantino, who has handled the remastering work on several Guaraldi re-releases. The CD booklet will include a lengthy new essay by my own self; I once again was delighted to assist with another of Fantasy's loving acknowledgments of Dr. Funk's legacy. (For those who might be curious, my essay is available only with the re-mastered CD, not with the LP.)
And I know what you're thinking: Additional surprises? Bonus tracks?
Well, bonus track (singular). The remastered CD includes an alternate take of "Baseball Theme," a variant which — as I briefly explain, in my essay — is performed at a gentler tempo that more closes matches the version heard in the actual documentary.
Concord has set up an entire media page for the album, which you'll find here. The site includes a detailed press release, the album art, a link to the "Fans of Vince Guaraldi" Facebook page, and, thanks to SoundCloud, a means of sampling the music itself.
Original first-gen 1964 vinyl pressings of this album — with both vinyl and gatefold packaging in nice condition — are extremely hard to find. Those that include the Schulz mini-posters — also in nice condition, without (eek!) tape marks or thumbtack holes — are as rare as hen's teeth. (And quite expensive, when they do surface.) This is a chance to reach back 50 years and own a little slice of Guaraldian history.
And I must admit, the prestige approach taken with this album makes me wonder how Fantasy/Concord will top itself next year, when Guaraldi's score for A Charlie Brown Christmas celebrates its golden anniversary...