Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Thanksgiving comes early this year!

Big news, gang.


We’ve all held our breath since late last year, hoping that the reception for the Definitive, Super Deluxe Charlie Brown Christmas — and the recently discovered, isn’t-it-fabulous original session recordings that produced a superior soundtrack for Great Pumpkin -- would translate, moving forward, into additional releases from Guaraldi’s Peanuts canon.


It has come to pass.


October 20 will see the debut of the full soundtrack from A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, just in time for the 1973 special’s 50th anniversary: 13 themes and cues used in the show, along with nine never-before-heard bonus and alternative tracks. The album will be available in three states: CD, vinyl and digital download.


Check out the official press release here.


Pre-order the CD from MVD here.


Pre-order the standard (black vinyl) LP from MVD here.

Pre-order the above CD or LP from Amazon here and here.

Pre-order the special Record Store Day jelly bean green vinyl LP here.

Pre-order the Target exclusive cranberry vinyl LP here.

The track list:


Show score:

    1. Charlie Brown Blues

    2. Thanksgiving Theme

    3. Thanksgiving Theme (Reprise)

    4. Peppermint Patty

    5. Little Birdie

    6. Thanksgiving Interlude

    7. Is It James or Charlie?

    8. Linus and Lucy

    9. Fife & Drums Theme

    10. Charlie Brown Blues (Reprise)

    11. Thanksgiving Interlude (Reprise)

    12. Thanksgiving Theme (2nd Reprise)

    13. Thanksgiving Theme (3rd  Reprise)


Bonus/Alternate tracks:

    14. Thanksgiving Theme (Alternate)

    15. Peppermint Patty (Bonus Mix)

    16. Linus and Lucy (Bonus Mix)

    17. Thanksgiving Interlude (Alternate take 2, 4, and 6)

    18. Thanksgiving Interlude (Alternate take 10)

    19. Thanksgiving Interlude (Alternate take 14)

    20. Is It James or Charlie? (Bonus mix with Whistling)

    21. Clark and Guaraldi

Preview Track 16 here.

Preview Track 20 here.


The recording features Vince Guaraldi, piano, keyboards and vocals; Tom Harrell, trumpet and brass arrangements; Chuck Bennett, trombone; Seward McCain, electric bass; and Mike Clark, drums. The album is produced by Sean and Jason Mendelson, re-mixed by Terry Carleton at Bones and Knives, and restored and mastered/re-mastered by Vinson Hudson.


Avid Guaraldi fans have long regarded this Emmy Award-winning TV special as a favorite, which is no surprise; the show is wall-to-wall music, bouncing between acoustic and electric keyboards, going silent only during Linus’ gentle sermon about the first Thanksgiving (a speech almost as eloquent as the one he delivers in Charlie Brown Christmas).


That sequence aside, Guaraldi was allowed to stretch and supply longer cues, each one beginning as the previous one fades. The show boasts three new tunes, starting with a lyrical title theme constructed from acoustic piano filigrees that evoke the keyboard cascades in “Skating.” An impudent cue titled “Is It James or Charlie?” adds a bit of James Brown sass to the mix; and the stand-out newcomer is Guaraldi’s vocal on “Little Birdie,” played at length when Snoopy — tasked with setting up the outdoor dining arrangements — wrestles with a basketball net, a garage door, a ping-pong table and an impressively sentient folding chair. 


Returning cues include one of Guaraldi’s best arrangements of “Linus and Lucy,” with brass adding a spirited counterpoint to the primary theme, and also shading a new four-chord climb at the end of each verse’s fourth measure: heard while Snoopy orchestrates the Thanksgiving “dinner” of buttered toast, popcorn, pretzels, jelly beans and ice cream parfaits. “Peppermint Patty” gets a quiet, leisurely arrangement on electric keyboard: perfectly echoing the girl’s coquettish side, notably when she flirts with Charlie Brown over the phone, while inviting herself — and Marcie and Franklin — to a party that doesn’t yet exist. 


The show’s final reprise of the title theme introduces a sparkling brass counterpoint: a terrific conclusion to a half-hour of solid combo jazz.

What’s not to love?


JIM said...

Wonderful news! Hopefully there will be more to come next year. The 'Easter Beagle' soundtrack contains some great music, too.

BR4D said...

This is amazing news!! I have been checking this space every few weeks hoping for news on a Valentines, or Easter or other soundtrack being available. I've spent years with my "Fall Playlist" that I've pieced together from Thanksgiving and Halloween cues. I'm glad to finally have (presumably) better quality recordings to replace legacy tracks from other compilations.

I'm guessing this falls outside of the Fantasy/Craft and Warner umbrellas? Some of this stuff was from the old Lost Cues albums under D&D, does that imprint no longer exist?

(As always, love your work Derrick)

Derrick Bang said...

Trust me, these are vastly superior recordings, taken directly from the "Thanksgiving" studio session.

The D&D label has been moribund for years, and I don't expect it to return. Although both volumes of the "Lost Cues" albums have some "Thanksgiving" cues, they were mastered from Guaraldi's personal session reel-to-reel recording, as opposed to the higher-quality studio recording; you'll definitely notice the difference on this new album.

Warners had no involvement with any of the Peanuts TV special recording sessions. ("Oh, Good Grief" has original arrangements, not show cues.) The Mendelsons wanted to get this "Thanksgiving" album out in time for the special's upcoming 50th anniversary, and Fantasy/Concord/Craft's production schedule simply was too full. Ergo, the Mendelsons went with a different distributor. But nobody's feelings are hurt; everybody remains friends, and I'm sure Fantasy/Concord/Craft will continue to be involved, moving forward.

And thanks for the kind words!

mister hart said...

I have been checking this blog religiously hoping for news of a new Guaraldi release! I was starting to think we were entering the period of colored vinyl releases for the holidays so was thrilled to see this post!
We were so spoiled with the last years releases of the remastered Great Pumpkin soundtrack, the super deluxe edition of A Charlie Brown Christmas, and deluxe Black Orpheus album (which I still have on heavy rotation).
Can’t wait to hear the Thanksgiving soundtrack and bonus tracks.

Doug A. said...

What welcome news! I've pre-ordered already. Want to do everything I can to convince the Mendelsons to keep up a steady stream of Guaraldi releases!

So are there any liner notes by yours truly with this release? Always a welcome and valuable addition for us Guaraldi fans!

Derrick Bang said...

Alas, no; tight scheduling prevented my participation on this release. Perhaps next time...

Anonymous said...

Absolutely excited about this release. Hoping that Valentine's Day, Arbor day come out as well. We've been waiting a long time for these gems. Many thank yous to the Mendelsohn family.

Trott said...

Do you know the identity of the uncredited guitarist on "Is It James or Charlies?"

Trott said...

I notice that track 10 is listed as a reprise of track 1, but they are very different. Track 1 is a 16-bar form in F. Track 10 is a 12-bar form in C. There are overwhelming similarities in the melodies, and that certainly could be enough to justify treating them as the same songs. I wonder what the story is with that.

Trott said...

Mike Clark's drumming on "Is It James or Charlies?" and the "Clark and Guaraldi" tracks are really interesting to listen to given his future involvement in some of the funkier Herbie Hancock albums only a year or two later. Incredible connect-the-dots archival material right there for jazz/funk/fusion historians.

Derrick Bang said...

Since the session didn't include a guitarist, those licks undoubtedly were delivered by Guaraldi. He was noodling on guitar during this phase of his career, and is credited for doing so on his final album, "Alma-Ville."

Eric Gurwitz said...

I can't help but notice that the version of "Little Birdie" on this new album is a completely different take from the one used in the special itself. What's the story about that and why isn't the take we're all familiar with included on the album instead?

Derrick Bang said...

Several folks have indeed noticed the slightly different lyrics (somewhat akin to the two different ways "Christmas Time Is Here" has been sung over time, discussed in a post on February 15, 2021). I checked in with the gurus at Lee Mendelson Film Productions, and received this reply:

"The original studio sessions for 'Little Birdie' produced two vocal stems connected with the show take. The stem that has Guaraldi singing 'It's amazing that the way you get around' -- used for the TV special -- suffers from noise and bleed from other instruments. The redundant vocals are almost the same otherwise; the one big change is the slightly different lyric in the second phrase. We used the cleanest vocal to get the best sound quality, and the best performance, for a superior listening experience; it includes the alternate lyric, 'What's amazing is the way you get around.'"

I find this mildly intriguing, but certainly nothing to get worked up about. And, frankly, the alternate lyric is better grammar!