Craft Recordings announces two vinyl reissues to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Charles M. Schulz’s beloved PEANUTS comic strip, which debuted in seven newspapers across the country on October 2nd, 1950. The first is a limited-edition picture disc of Peanuts Greatest Hits, featuring the faces of Snoopy and Woodstock, and available July 24th. The second release, coming August 21st feature the enduring music of the Vince Guaraldi Trio. Peanuts Portraits, meanwhile, includes several recordings from Guaraldi and pianist George Winston, which have never been available on vinyl. 

Limited to 2,500 individually numbered units, the collectible Peanuts Greatest Hits picture disc offers music for all seasons from the animated TV specials, including the instantly recognizable “Linus And Lucy,” the classic “Great Pumpkin Waltz” and yuletide favorite, “Christmas Time Is Here.” Side A features a cheerful-looking Snoopy, while his avian sidekick, Woodstock—who made his first official appearance in the PEANUTS comic strip 50 years ago (June, 1970)—graces Side B. The collection also includes some of Guaraldi’s earliest PEANUTS compositions, like “Baseball Theme,” which originally appeared on his 1964 LP Jazz Impressions Of A Boy Named Charlie Brown—the soundtrack for an unreleased TV special about the comic strip’s anti-hero. Another highlight is “Little Birdie,” written for the 1973 special, “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving”, and featuring rare vocals from Guaraldi.

On vinyl for the very first time is Peanuts Portraits, which collects the vivid musical cues that Guaraldi wrote for the cast of PEANUTS characters. With his evocative compositions, the artist added new dimensions to beloved regulars like Peppermint Patty, Schroeder, Sally and, of course, Charlie Brown. In addition to nine songs performed by Guaraldi, the album also includes two classic PEANUTS tunes recorded in the ’90s by pianist George Winston. Eight of the selections on Peanuts Portraits—including Winston’s renditions of “Linus And Lucy” and “Masked Marvel,” plus Guaraldi’s alternate takes of tracks like “Frieda (With The Naturally Curly Hair)” and “Charlie’s Blues”—will make their vinyl debut.

While Peanuts Portraits will be released across all major music retailers on black vinyl, fans can also find an exclusive edition of the album via Vinyl Me, Please. Limited to 1,000 copies, the LP will be pressed on 180-gram red vinyl.

Thanks to the keen ear of Bay Area TV producer Lee Mendelson, Guaraldi’s lively scores not only helped to bring the PEANUTS characters alive on screen but also added a level of sophistication to the animated specials, setting them apart from other children’s programming at the time.

In 1964, Mendelson set out to create a documentary about PEANUTS creator Charles M. Schulz and the unlikely hero of his comic strip, Charlie Brown. When it came time to find a musician to score the documentary, he immediately thought of the locally based jazz artist, who had recently scored a GRAMMY® Award—and a Top Ten hit on the Billboard Hot 100—with “Cast Your Fate to the Wind.”

Due to the whims of network programmers, the resulting film—”A Boy Named Charlie Brown”—never aired. The artist’s label, Fantasy Records, nevertheless forged ahead with the 1964 release of its lively soundtrack. But the artist’s work wasn’t in vain. Just one year later, many of Guaraldi’s compositions finally did make their way to prime-time television on “A Charlie Brown Christmas”.

The resulting soundtrack has gone on to become one of the all-time best-selling holiday titles, with original tracks like “Christmas Time Is Here,” “Linus and Lucy” and “Skating,”  as well as Guaraldi’s lively interpretations of traditional yuletide fare, like “O Tannenbaum,” “Hark The Herald Angels Sing” and “What Child Is This.” The album was inducted into the GRAMMY® Hall of Fame in 2007, and the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry five years later. In 2016, A Charlie Brown Christmas was certified 4x Platinum by the RIAA.

But A Charlie Brown Christmas was only the beginning. From there, Guaraldi and Mendelson would continue their partnership, with the jazz artist scoring a total of 17 PEANUTS specials, including “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”, “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” and “Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown”. Guaraldi was only 47 when he suffered a fatal heart attack in 1976—just hours after finishing the music for “It’s Arbor Day, Charlie Brown”—but his enduring legacy remains. Year after year, his music entertains new generations of fans, while introducing countless children to the joys of jazz for the very first time.

Peanuts Greatest Hits will be available as of Friday, July 24th, 2020.
Peanuts Portraits will be available as of Friday, August 21st, 2020.

By Rob Ross

Rob Ross has been involved in the music industry for over 30 years - as guitarist/singer/songwriter with The Punch Line, freelance journalist, producer, manager and working for independent and major record labels. He resides in Staten Island, New York with his wife and cats; he works out a lot, reads voraciously, loves Big Star, traveling down South and his orange Gretsch. He's pretty groovy!