October 27, 2015 posted by Greg Ehrbar

“It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” on Records

I got the Great Pumpkin record album! I got the cassette! I got the new Peanuts Movie CD soundtrack! I got a vinyl one! …I got a rock.


Music and Story from the TV Soundtrack
Charlie Brown Records (Disneyland-Vista Records) #3704 (With Book) #2604 (LP Only) (Mono / 12” 33 1/3 RPM LP with Book / 1978 / 19 minutes)
A Charlie Brown Read Along Book and Record
Charlie Brown Records (Disneyland-Vista Records) #404 (Mono / 7” 33 1/3 RPM LP with Book / 1978 / 11 minutes / Also on Cassette)

Producers: Jymn Magon, Lee Mendelson. Writers: Charles M. Schulz, Jymn Magon. Music: Vince Guaraldi.
Voices: Peter Robbins (Charlie Brown), Christopher Shea (Linus), Sally Dryer (Lucy); Bill Melendez (Snoopy); Kathy Steinberg (Sally); Ann Altieri (Frieda); Gail DeFaria (Pigpen); Lisa DeFaria (Patty); Glenn Mendelson (Schroeder, Shermy).
Additional Dialogue: Arrin Skelley (Charlie Brown); Michelle Muller (Lucy).
Instrumentals include: “Great Pumpkin Waltz,” “Charlie Brown Theme” by Vince Guaraldi.

While A Charlie Brown Christmas is arguably the most beloved and revered of the Peanuts special, It’s the Great Pumpkin is the most quintessentially “Peanuts” of them all.

GreatPumpkinLPFront600It’s densely packed with iconic sequences, including Snoopy fighting the Red Baron. Every few seconds, something memorable happens, or an oft-repeated phrase is said. That priceless dialogue is captured on the Grammy-nominated fourth album in Disney’s Charlie Brown Records series. It also includes extra lines for Charlie Brown and Lucy, recorded over a decade later in order to describe the visuals. The voices used were the actors playing the characters in 1978 for such specials as You’re the Greatest, Charlie Brown, Michelle Muller and Arrin Skelley. It’s easy to tell the difference between the voices, but it’s minimal, necessary and certainly not a detriment to enjoying this special on vinyl.

The standout performance on the soundtrack really belongs to Kathy Steinberg as Sally, who delivers that fierce diatribe to Linus, paying off every bit of angst in Schulz’s writing. It’s one of the best single voice performances in a series of specials that brims with spot-on reads–even when some of them had been recorded one word or phrase at a time because of the youth and inexperience of the children in the voice cast.

Producer Jymn Magon had access to isolated music and sound effects tracks, so the production flowed properly as a recording and was not a straight “pick-up” of the finished TV soundtrack. Like the book-and-LP record set of A Charlie Brown Christmas, this package has a book that follows the album like a script. The 7” read-along is similar, omitting and/or shortening some sections.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Red Baron Sequence from It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown LP
Peter Robbins’ dialogue bookends this album excerpt, in which Arrin Skelley takes up the narration in order to provide descriptions of the visuals in this classic scene.


Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Epic Records #88875146372 (Stereo / Compact Disc / 2015 / Also available on Vinyl and iTunes Download)

Original Score: Christophe Beck. Additional Music: Lee Birenberg, Zach Robinson. Orchestrator/Conductor: Tim Davies. Additional Orchestrations: Kevin Kleisch, Jeremy Levy, Larry Groupé.Music Supervisor: John Houlihan. Music Executives: Danielle Diego, Alexandra Robertson. Production Supervisor: Rebecca Morellato. Art Direction & Design: Anita Marisa Boriboon. Recorded at Newman Scoring Stage, 20th Century Fox. Running Time: 48 minutes.

Vince Guaraldi Recordings: “Linus and Lucy”, “Skating”, “Christmastime is Here”.
New Versions of Guaraldi Music: “Linus and Lucy”, “”Skating”, “Christmastime is Here”, “Christmas is Coming”.
Original Score: “Snow Day”, “Fifi’s Theme”, “Charlie Brown in Love”, “Wingwalking”, “The Library”, “The Assembly”, “Curse You, Red Baron”,” Winter Becomes Spring”, “Never Give Up”, “Carnival Panic”, “Pen Pal Partners”.
Vocals: “Better When I’m Dancin’” by Meghan Trainor, Thaddeus Dixon, Performed by Meghan Trainor; “That’s What I Like” by Jamie Sanderson, Breyan Issac, Miles Beard, Vincent Venditto, Teemu Brunila, Tramar Dillard, Thomas Troelson, Jimmy Marinos, Mike Skill, Wally Palamarchuk, Frederick Hibbert, Performed by Flo Rida featuring Fitz.

The makers of The Peanuts Movie had their work cut out for them in tackling a mammoth part of pop culture (and world history, too, since the Apollo 10 command module was named “Charlie Brown” and the landing module was “Snoopy”). There are so many generations to please, as well as the entertainment needs of today’s marketplace to consider.

The soundtrack album is a microcosm of that challenge. Only the first two of the four Peanuts features had soundtrack albums at all (and c’mon, both A Boy Named Charlie Brown and Snoopy, Come Home really should be reissued on CD, vinyl and download in the wake of the heightened awareness resulting from such a major theatrical release). To make The Peanuts Movie succeed as a viable release in the widest possible way, there are two peppy pop songs, one an original written and sung by Meghan Trainor, whose international success and a contract with Epic Records offer the album a huge amount of reach.

All of this is necessary in the 21st century music business, but The Peanuts Movie should not forget all of those who took Charlie Brown, Snoopy and company into their lives over the past 65 years. So, in addition to three cuts from Vince Guaraldi’s original Fantasy Records releases, there are superb interpretations of these themes given a fresh approach.

The Peanuts TV specials and features varied in musical tone and style, too. Starting with Play It Again, Charlie Brown, Guaraldi began changing instrumentation and experimenting with different themes. While all the specials retained the “Linus and Lucy” flavor—if not always that exact melody—there were also journeys into synth, bluegrass, ballads, Broadway and, of course, the “Flashdance” craze.

Christophe Beck, who also scored Disney’s Frozen, composed an expansive yet sensitive score that weaves in Guaraldi music—and also allows the piano to the forefront, perhaps as a nod to the original piano jazz sound. Other than that, Beck’s score is very much that of a present-day film, with its own specific signature melody, played by what is easily the largest orchestra ever assembled for a Peanuts feature.

iTunes Sample of “Skating”
This is the 90-second sample you can hear on iTunes of the simple, wonderful new interpretation of Guaraldi’s classic, “Skating”. This melody was also arranged for orchestra by John Scott Trotter in “A Boy Named Charlie Brown”. Though the pop tune is intended to be the playlist hit, “Skating” is such a familiar and beloved tune, it might turn out to be the track that is ultimately played for years to come.


  • Sounds like that version of Skating was done by a Keyboard (Marimbas,Xylophones,Vibraphones and assorted percussion instruments) pit crew for a Drum Corps International Drum and Bugle Corp. There was another version of Skating done with a full orchestra that was part of the “Snoopy on Ice” segment from A Boy Named Charlie Brown.

  • Yeah, this really does sound like digitally created sound. Doesn’t even sound to me like samples of actual percussion instruments, it has that unreal quality of digitally-constructed sound. That’s one guy with a keyboard and a bunch of soft synths. It sounds really good, in a “new age music” kind of way, but no way it comes anywhere close to the masterpiece that Vince Guaraldi’s combo did for A Charlie Brown Christmas.

  • I love that soft little musical passage after the Flying Ace sneaks behind enemy lines. How quickly it evokes the feeling of a cool Fall evening!

  • I did a review of that “Great Pumpkin” LP album, in character as Disney’s Big Bad Wolf (as the record was distributed by Disney!) Check it out…

  • I have so many fond memories of “IT’S THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN”, even though I’m sorry I missed these records around the TV specials. It is nice that folks can still buy the volumes of the original comics panels that led up to this and other CHARLIE BROWN specials, and I recall the visuals to the Snoopy/Red Baron sequence, including the blasts that lent so much color to the animation. Oh, and I agree, the performance of the voice of Sally really stood out in this special. I remember recording it from TV onto my reel-to-reel tape recorder; man, I wish I still had those reels intact!

  • Frieda appears prominently on the LP version of ITGPCB. This is curious, as she only plays a minor part in the Hallowe’en special and in the Peanuts universe in general. I can’t place the kid who is wearing the scary mask. The ghost could be anybody. Seems strange that a “Great Pumpkin” record cover wouldn’t feature Linus. The Read-a-long cover is more fitting, as it showcases Snoopy and Linus, but that one eliminates Charlie Brown, and as he is the title character, he should be in evidence somewhere, too.

    It was fun to hear the beginning of the Red Baron sequence. The alternate narrator manages to sound quite a bit like the original Charlie Brown voice.

    ITGPCB was my first-ever introduction to the Peanuts characters. The experience of watching it as a child is indelibly stamped on my memory. I made some life-long friends that night.

    I’m looking forward to the new Peanuts movie.

    Thanks for another fantastic post! Happy Hallowe’en!

    • It’s nice to see Frieda getting prominance on that cover alone (otherwise, Violet got a moment in the special with modeling Charlie Brown’s head to help Lucy during the party). That kid with the mask on the very left could be “5”.

      It’s true that ghost could be anybody on the very right (in the special, we get one that wore a coonskin cap while Pig Pen was easy to spot because of his usual dust clouds).

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