Tuesday, March 15, 2016

You're a picture LP, Charlie Brown

Fantasy/Concord surprises us this week with the release of a vinyl version of last summer's CD compilation, Peanuts Greatest Hits (discussed in greater detail in this previous post). Ah, but this isn't just any LP; it's a gorgeous picture disc with a smiling Charlie Brown on one side, and an equally (atypically?) cheerful Lucy on the flip side.

You can see the album in action — literally — during this YouTube promotional video. Note, as well, that the disc is being played on Crosley's Peanuts "Cruiser" Record Store Day Turntable, released back in late 2014 (but still available via Amazon and other outlets, if it slipped past your radar).

As one final bonus, Rock Father Magazine is giving away one of these picture LPs via an online raffle. A bit of registration is required, and entrants also need to cite their "favorite record of all time." (One wonders if responders who mention a Guaraldi album will get preferred scrutiny.) As these words are typed, the contest continues for only 11 more days, so if you're interested, don't delay!

But if you'd rather not wait, and/or don't fancy your chances in the raffle, of course you can purchase the picture disc right away, via Amazon.


Speaking of LPs, I just caught up with celebrated comedian Dick Gregory's East & West, released back in November 1961, just as his star was rising. The album has been available on CD for quite a few years at this point, and it's an important listen for several reasons.

Guaraldi shared a stage with Gregory numerous times, most famously during a nationwide college and university tour that began at Sacramento State University on October 23, 1963, and was scheduled to conclude at Detroit University on November 23. It didn't work out that way, thanks to an assassin in Dallas, Texas; the tour was cut short.

Gregory was already quite famous by the time this tour was put together, and East & West features two of his earliest sets, both from 1961: the first at the Blue Angel in New York City; and the second during his debut at San Francisco's hungry i. The precise recording dates aren't given, but it's known that Gregory did a lengthy stint at the hungry i during the summer of 1961. Since he mentions Soviet cosmonaut Gherman Titov's Earth orbit as a recent event — and it took place on August 6, 1961 — we can assume that this set was recorded either August 7 or 14, as hungry i bookings (at that time) usually began on Monday evenings.

Gregory touches on numerous other topics, such as airline hijackings; he also playfully disses San Francisco and, toward the end of the set, fantasizes about what he'd do if elected President of the United States (a particularly pointed segment, all these years later).

But the best part comes toward the beginning, when Gregory takes a lengthy poke at the hungry i itself, mere minutes after having been introduced by club owner Enrico Banducci:

Ain't no place in the world like this crummy joint. This is a weird place ... this is a basement! Three dollars a head they charge you, to get in a basement. I bet you don't go in your own basement for free, at home! You should see this joint when the fog lifts: no second floor! This is what you would call an 86-proof Disneyland. You ever been to a nightclub with no tables? Ain't this weird? It's sorta like drinking in church!

But they have to have joints like this in San Francisco, to bring tourists in. A lotta people come here, just for these types of places. Sorta like a nice place you'd like to visit, but you wouldn't want in your own neighborhood...

Given what I heard about the hungry i from the numerous musicians I interviewed, it sounds like Gregory really nailed it...!