It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! The Emmy-nominated 1966 television special was the third overall for Charles M. Schulz's Peanuts series and the second to be holiday-themed, after A Charlie Brown Christmas. Upon its October 27, 1966 premiere, it earned a whopping 49 share in the ratings and was so successful that CBS re-aired it every year through 2000, with ABC picking up the tradition after that. Yet despite a beloved score by Vince Guaraldi (who else?), a soundtrack album to Great Pumpkin was never released in any audio format until 2018. That release, while certainly welcome, featured the soundtrack as heard in the special, i.e., complete with sound effects. On August 26, however, Craft Recordings will give Great Pumpkin a significant upgrade with a new edition sourced from the newly-discovered original session reels. This version will be available on CD, digitally, 45 RPM black vinyl, 33-1/3 pumpkin-shaped orange translucent vinyl, and a Craft-exclusive 45 RPM "pumpkin patch" splatter vinyl LP limited to 500 units.
Vince Guaraldi's score was recorded on October 4, 1966 at Desilu's Gower Street Studio in Hollywood by Guaraldi (piano) and his longtime trio members Monty Budwig on bass and Colin Bailey on drums. Emanuel Klein (trumpet), John Gray (guitar), and Ronald Lang (woodwinds) rounded out the sextet for the sessions. The recordings were overseen by composer, arranger and conductor John Scott Trotter, best-known for his long tenure as Bing Crosby's musical director. Trotter also contributed two cues of his own, "Snoopy and the Leaf" and "Breathless." Producer Lee Mendelson wrote in 2018 that "this is the quintessential Vince Guaraldi for our Peanuts specials...some of his best atmospheric jazz. Vince's score carries the gang with the autumn leaves, through the scary and cold Halloween night. This music comforts the indomitable faith of Linus, still waiting for his hero since 1966 - forever in our ears, hearts and memories."
In the months prior to his passing in December 2019 at the age of 86, Lee Mendelson initiated a search for the original recording tapes for the Peanuts specials. Following his death, the team at his production company continued to reexamine the archives. Among the finds were the original analog session reels to It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, including alternate takes. These reels have been utilized by Lee's children Jason and Sean Mendelson and Craft Recordings for this presentation of Guaraldi's score. The Mendelsons write in their new liner notes, "Not much is known about how Guaraldi wrote and arranged these classic melodies and themes, and even many of the musicians who played with him found his method to be a beautiful mystery...We hope that by listening to this music, especially the bonus material, you will get a glimpse into Guaraldi's creative process as he and his musicians mold their sound. These [alternate] takes demonstrate the evolution and choices that became the now-famous score."
Whereas the 2018 CD/LP release included just 17 tracks, the new edition boasts 24 including seven alternate takes. These encompass unheard versions of "Linus and Lucy," "The Great Pumpkin Waltz," and the suitably spooky "Graveyard Theme." As several cues including "The Red Baron," "Charlie Brown Theme," and "Roses of Picardy" were originally edited down, this presentation offers them in complete, unedited form for the first time.
It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is due on August 26 from Craft Recordings. The release boasts new liner notes by the Mendelson brothers and Vince Guaraldi/Peanuts historian Derrick Bang as well as Lee Mendelson's 2018 notes. The first digital single, "The Great Pumpkin Waltz (Alternate Take 2)," is available on all digital platforms today including YouTube. A second pre-release track, "Linus and Lucy (Alternate Take 2)," arrives August 5.
You'll find the track listing and pre-order links below.
Vince Guaraldi, It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown: Original Soundtrack Recording (Craft Recordings/Fantasy, 2022)
- Linus and Lucy
- Graveyard Theme
- Snoopy and the Leaf/Frieda (With the Naturally Curly Hair)
- The Great Pumpkin Waltz
- Linus and Lucy (Reprise)
- Charlie Brown Theme/Charlie Brown Theme (Minor Theme)/Graveyard Theme (Reprise)
- The Great Pumpkin Waltz (Reprise)
- The Red Baron/Military Drum March
- The Great Pumpkin Waltz (2nd Reprise)/The Great Pumpkin Waltz (3rd Reprise)
- Graveyard Theme (Trick or Treat) (2nd Reprise)
- Fanfare/Breathless/ Graveyard Theme (Trick or Treat) (3rd Reprise)
- Charlie Brown Theme (Reprise)
- Breathless (2nd Reprise)
- It's a Long Way to Tipperary/There's a Long, Long Trail a-Winding/Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag/Roses of Picardy
- Graveyard Theme (Trick or Treat) (4th Reprise)
- Linus and Lucy (2nd Reprise)/Linus and Lucy (3rd Reprise)
- Charlie Brown Theme (2nd Reprise)
Previously Unreleased Alternate Takes
- Linus and Lucy (Alternate Take 1)
- Graveyard Theme (Alternate Take 1)
- Charlie Brown Theme (Alternate Reprise Take 1)
- Linus and Lucy (Alternate Take 2)
- The Great Pumpkin Waltz (Alternate Take 2)
- Linus and Lucy (Alternate Reprise Take 1)
- Charlie Brown Theme (Alternate Reprise Take 2)