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).
A BOY NAMED CHARLIE BROWN
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
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.