Vince Guaraldi Trio – A Charlie Brown Christmas (Deluxe Editions) (Craft Recordings)
A holiday classic gets a makeover and the results are thrilling
Arguably the most famous jazz album in history, A Charlie Brown Christmas, has gotten the deluxe treatment with a series of new releases from Craft Recordings. Most importantly, this classic album has been freshly remixed, breathing new life into this holiday favorite. Larger editions include multiple discs, showcasing hours of never-before heard material from these legendary sessions. In addition, Craft has reissued the classic, original LP in a fancy, “Gold Foil” edition,” making the outer package now equal to the fantastic music inside.
First, let’s talk about this brand new, 2022 remix.
In a side-by-side comparison, the new remix is superior in every way. In all prior versions, tape hiss is audible throughout the album (not surprising – these recordings are from 1965). The new remix virtually eliminates all of this – it’s like peeling a layer of film off the sound. As a result, the music leaps out of the speakers.
Bassist Fred Marshall benefits the most from this new version: his bass is warmer, and you can hear his fingers on the strings. Yet, drummer Jerry Granelli also shines – you can really hear his brush work on the classic, “Skating.” Vince Guaraldi certainly benefits as well – you really feel the low notes of his piano on “Christmas is Coming.”
You don’t have to have a great ear to hear the improvements. Take the lead-off track, “O Tannebaum.” On the original version, Guaraldi’s piano opens and you immediately hear tape hiss. At :37 seconds, the band joins in and Marshall’s bass is distorted. It stays that way for the entire song. On this new version, the bass is big, full and free of distortion – a VAST improvement.
The new remix is available in a “Deluxe Edition” on LP, CD and streaming. The first disc is the new remix, while a second features bonus material; never-before heard, early versions of this hallowed material. For those wanting even more, there’s a “Super Deluxe Edition,” featuring 5 discs, including a Blu Ray of high-resolution tracks, a 59-page, hardback book, and several discs of previously unreleased outtakes. Especially interesting is a much-faster take of “Skating” (it’s speed is dizzying).
As if that weren’t enough, the original vinyl (featuring the standard mix) is also getting the royal treatment. For a limited time, they’ve issued a “Gold Foil” edition, featuring raised images. Many of these versions have special colored vinyl, only available at certain retailers.
The music of A Charlie Brown Christmas has surpassed the original cartoon that birthed it. Many people consider it the greatest holiday album of all time. And, some of the tracks, like “Linus and Lucy” and “Skating,” rank as some of the most recognizable songs in the history of recorded music. With this ambitious reissue campaign, Craft Recordings has finally put these recordings in the light they deserve. —Tony Peters