ANIMATION SPIN
May 16, 2017 posted by Greg Ehrbar

“Charlie Brown’s All-Stars” on Records

The second CBS “Peanuts” TV special was a big deal in 1966, but it’s received less attention since—an exception being this Disneyland/Vista recording from 1978.

CHARLIE BROWN’S ALL-STARS
By Charles M. Schulz

Charlie Brown Records (Disneyland/Vista) 3702 (With Book) 2702 (LP Only)
(33 1/3 RPM) / Mono)
Also Available as a Read-Along Book and 7” 33 1/3 RPM Record or Cassette

Released in 1978. Producers: Jymn Magon, Warren Lockhart. Adaptation: Jymn Magon. Music: Vince Guaraldi. Arranger/Conductor: John Scott Trotter. Running Time: 24 minutes.
1978 Studio Voices: Arrin Skelley (Charlie Brown), Daniel Anderson (Linus), Michelle Muller (Lucy).
1966 Soundtrack Voices: Bill Melendez (Snoopy); Glenn Mendelson (Schroeder); Gabrielle DeFaria Ritter (Shermy); Karen Mendelson (Violet); Lynn Vanderlip (Patty); Geoffrey Ornstein (Pig Pen); Ann Altieri (Frieda); Kathy Steinberg (Sally).

After A Charlie Brown Christmas stunned the CBS naysayers and shot up the ratings in 1965, Peanuts had millions of new fans as well as longtime devotees, snapping up the Fawcett and Holt, Rinehart & Winston paperbacks and salivating for another special. It wasn’t long in coming. Charlie Brown’s All-Stars heralded the baseball season the following year, with It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown airing only a few months afterward.

The special is worthy of classic status in that it contains some of the most memorable sequences in the series, including Charlie Brown’s neighborhood-wide spring for the high-fly ball, Snoopy’s wonderfully impossible surfing exhibition in a plastic pool, and even an anti-misogyny message that was highly unusual for primetime TV in 1966, particularly in a cartoon.

Open and Closing

Holidays were the mainstay of most early Peanuts specials. Once the supply of holidays for Peanuts specials was whittled down to doing Arbor Day, the subjects began to extend to other sports, dream fantasies and even additional Christmas specials. Though comparable in quality to the recognized “classic” specials, Charlie Brown’s All-Stars ran a few more times before getting tossed among lesser-known titles like Play It Again, Charlie Brown and There’s No Time for Love, Charlie Brown (both are quite good, too).

GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
“Charlie Brown’s All-Stars”

Of all the Disney Peanuts LP releases, this contained the greatest amount of re-recorded dialogue by the three leads. It was necessary so that Charlie Brown, in particular, could provide verbal descriptions of what the listeners wasn’t seeing (the album was available with an illustrated script book, but the LP was also sold without it). The new cast is surprisingly good, especially Michelle Muller, who makes every line count as Lucy. It’s quite a feat considering that these actors were filling in for some very iconic, early Peanuts voices.


A BOY NAMED CHARLIE BROWN
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Kritzerland Records

Producer: John Scott Trotter. Assistant Producer: Vince Guaraldi. Original Music Score: Vince Guaraldi. Musical Director: John Scott Trotter. Engineer: Phil Macy. Art Direction & Package Design: Doug Haverty. Running Time: 79 minutes!

Songs: “A Boy Named Charlie Brown,” “Failure Face,” “Champion Charlie Brown,” by Rod McKuen; “’I’ Before ‘E’” by John Scott Trotter, Bill Melendez and Al Shean.

For Derrick Bang’s annotated track list, click here.

We explored the story of the film and Columbia’s 1970 soundtrack album in an earlier Spin. It was a fine album for its time, squishing as much material—music and dialogue—on to one 54-minute LP. In the years since, many a fan has pined for a soundtrack that eschewed the dialogue and sound effects (delightful as they are) for pristine, stereophonic music on its own.

Such an album has been in limbo for years, as jazz historian Derrick Bang chronicles in his book, Vince Guaraldi at the Piano.

It is hard to describe the elation of listening to such a recording after decade upon decade of wishing it existed. Perhaps the only other soundtrack that created this kind of thrill (at least for this writer) is when Randy Thornton brought the Disney’s Alice in Wonderland soundtrack to CD in the ‘90s, over 40 years after the film’s release.

The good news is that Bruce Kimmel’s gutsy, eclectic Kritzerland label released the album this year. Including some bonus tracks, the CD is 79 minutes long. The bad news is that the pressing was limited to 1,000 discs (sometimes that’s the only way to contractually get these things made). Though it is out of print, it is still available through third-party sellers. (You can find Kritzerland’s original listing here, and it’s a good idea to check out all the other releases, as Bruce has come up with an impressive catalog, especially if you’re a fan of TV, animation, film and stage.

GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
“Three Strikes, You’re Out”

This is a sample of just how extraordinary it is to have these musical treasures presented in their entirety. It’s the same melody that begins the Charlie Brown’s All-Stars special, done with full orchestra and jazz combo.

8 Comments

  • Charlie Brown’s All-Stars has gotten attention in recent years, and broadcast prints from a 1969 repeat have been in collector’s circles, although the original 1966 has shown up as well (the print from the B&W YouTube clip may have its film chopped off after the commercial). It also has aired recently on ABC as double-bill with the Easter Beagle special (not this year, though)…..

    Various theme/amusement parks featuring the Peanuts characters have a little live show called “Charlie Brown’s All-Stars”.

    Also you’ll notice how in the end credits there are two splices. One bloops out the original Coca-Cola plug, while the splice in between the United Feature Syndicate credit and “The End” was a reissue Dolly Madison/Coca-Cola plug. That’s my theory, at least,

  • So what is the website for Kritzerland Records? I did not know of its existence until now. I’d like to check out what other soundtracks he’s transferred, especially if they are actual original restorations. As for “CHARLIE BROWN’S ALL-STARS”, it is one of my favorite installments of the CHARLIE BROWN specials. It is a shame that this version never made it to CD along with a reprint of the hard cover book that was once also available. I recall the book, and it seemed as if the illustrations in the book were created specially for the book and not just stills taken from the animated special.

  • It’s too bad that they only released the extended soundtrack for A Boy Named Charlie Brown to a limited 1,000 cds. It’s now sold-out. Hope they reissue the extended soundtrack again for its upcoming 50th anniversary.

    And there was another release of A Boy Named Charlie Brown (The “original” Soundtrack) with the Vince Guaraldi Trio – but it had nothing to do with the real original soundtrack to the movie.

    • Actually, it has to do with a pilot documentary that led to “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. Just find any Lee Mendelson interview and he’ll tell you.

  • It’s positively uncanny. Just yesterday I was thinking about “A Boy Named Charlie Brown” and how I wished I could hear the soundtrack, particularly from the segment where Snoopy dreams about the Red Baron. Great stuff!

    • It’s quite a fascinating experience to hear these tracks on their own.

  • Bruce Kimmel’s new soundtrack recording is excellent. The choice made to not include much dialogue so the score could shine.

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