Vince Guaraldi Trio
A Charlie Brown Christmas


5.0
classic

Review

by Waior USER (114 Reviews)
December 24th, 2009 | 88 replies


Release Date: 1965 | Tracklist

Review Summary: ...yuletide by the fireside and joyful memories there.

It doesn’t feel like Christmas.

For one, there’s no snow. Even for people who’ve never experienced temperatures below freezing, it’s not atypical to associate the holiday season with wintery weather. It’s not uncommon to see people decorating their window sills with cottony fake snow and cut-up-paper snowflakes in attempts to forcibly mimic the icy atmosphere Christmas is generally identified with. Hell, people are inflating life-sized, fake snowmen on their front lawns and affixing wicker reindeer to their sidewalks by second nature nowadays - all because Christmas and winter (at least in Western culture) walk hand in hand.

This year, however, the purportedly commercialized Christmas atmosphere is wholly absent from my life. The pithy, suburban houses that populate my neighborhood are hardly decorated, my family is allotted haphazardly all over the continent and - most importantly - there is no snow on the ground. I’ve greedily swilled every last drop of eggnog, I watched The Christmas Carol and I even listened to ‘I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas’ on repeat. No use. Humbug. Yet before I wrote the concept of “Christmas spirit” off as a myth (much like I wrote off the possibility of St. Nicholas ten years earlier as a child), I felt strangely compelled to warrant Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas a proper listen - and just like that, as the first notes of 'O Tennenbaum' rung out loud and clear, Christmas spirit manifested inside me, stirring up a wealth of memories and senses that can only be redirected to Christmas day.

Well, not really. But it came pretty damn close.

See, A Charlie Brown Christmas has an indescribably timeless feel. The by now 40+ year old soundtrack has done nothing but escalate in character since it first appeared alongside the clumsily animated Christmas special on TV half a century ago. It is the closest tangible form of Christmas I personally know of. Its soothing brushes and skillful piano take me back to years preceding my discovery of the more materialistic aspect of Christmas - quite simply, the soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas takes me back to a time in which Christmas simply was a joyous time for everybody, regardless of hardships, struggles or anxiety. And now, as I gradually grow older and more cynical, Guaraldi’s Christmas masterpiece remains an ineffable staple of holiday cheer that not even a lack of eggnog, family or, well, snow can spoil.

Interestingly enough, the weird thing about A Charlie Brown Christmas is that it sounds (thank God) nothing like Charlie Brown. Even if you’ve lodged yourself beneath a rock for the majority of your life and have never seen the culturally admired television special, you can still listen to this album and love it beyond reason. There are jazzy, brilliant new interpretations (new at the time, that is) of classic Christmas carols (O Christmas Tree, What Child is This, The Little Drummer Boy etc.) and there are also a few original songs in the mix (Skating, Linus and Lucy, Christmas Time Is Here etc.) that, despite being only first introduced at the date of release, were and continue to be today immediate Christmas classics. Also, unlike most 20th century Christmas music that isn’t Bing Crosby or Frank Sinatra, Vince Guaraldi and company manage to create a Christmas-y atmosphere that isn’t irritating. You won’t find overly peppy, sugary renditions of obnoxious modern Christmas songs (mange d’la mardé, Jingle Bell Rock!) on here - everything on A Charlie Brown Christmas is tranquil, jazzy and well executed.

While to solely articulate the holiday record on its instrumental performances is a bit redundant due to the album’s familiarity, it is more than necessary to mention how well-crafted the music really is. Guaraldi himself is a brilliant writer and pianist and his seemingly anonymous two bandmates both contribute equally stunning performances to the potpourri of talent. The compositions and arrangements range from the immediately recognizable and upbeat 'Linus and Lucy' to the almost completely reimagined ‘My Little Drum’ - a jazzy interpretation of ‘The Little Drummer Boy’ that sees the song’s main melody take the backseat to a serene but effective piano line. Perhaps the only thing that might disconcert a listener on A Charlie Brown Christmas is the occasional presence of vocals - ‘Christmas Time Is Here’ and ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing’ feature some rather distinctly Charlie Brown-y children’s choir-led vocals that, while incredibly essential to the album experience, may throw off the listening experience slightly for those not familiar with the album.

So, yeah, this year" For me, it’s going to be a green Christmas. Yes, it’s going to be bereft of everything Christmas was so perfectly made out to be - it’s going to be dry, unfestive and perhaps a little more cynical than it needs to be. The season won’t automatically transmute itself into something beautiful and celebratory because of the Vince Guaraldi Trio. A Charlie Brown Christmas won’t shake snow out of the clouds and sugar plum dreams won’t adorn your slumber just because Guaraldi put to record the best version of ‘Greensleeves’ ever - but for me, A Charlie Brown Christmas will at least give me the nostalgia I crave. Its relatively flawless execution and general relaxed spirit characterizes Christmas like no other record I’ve yet to hear and its seat amongst other classic Christmas albums is completely deserved. By the flawless piano of Vince Guaraldi, my Christmas will be spent - at least something will be perfect this year.

Olden times and ancient rhymes of love and dreams to share.




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Comments:Add a Comment 
Waior
December 24th 2009


11630 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

this is pretty long but it's christmas. tis the season



Enjoy your eve and Christmas Day, Sputnikmusic!

erasedcitizen
December 24th 2009


716 Comments


Les Misérables is long.

MentalityOfA
December 24th 2009


1213 Comments


Nice review.

"By the flawless piano of Vinca Guaraldi"

Might wanna fix that though.

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
December 24th 2009


15610 Comments


oh you, doin work i dont have to


merry christmas, waior

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
December 24th 2009


15610 Comments


"Its soothing brushes and skillful piano take me back to years preceding my discovery of the more aspect of Christmas"


idk what this means but otherwise ace review

Waior
December 24th 2009


11630 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

haha i was just reading that over and saw that typo. already fixed.



merry christmas to you too, sir.

shindip
December 24th 2009


3536 Comments


Great review. This is my fave holiday album, I think. Merry Christmas pam!

cirq
December 24th 2009


9344 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

classic review for a classic album.

Waior
December 24th 2009


11630 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

yeah, should put a 5 on the top of the review. can't see this being any lower.

Tulannical
December 24th 2009


2051 Comments


nice, i love vince guaraldi.

klap
Staff Reviewer
December 24th 2009


11776 Comments


nicely done cales, merry xmas to you from sub-tropical florida

Digging: Violents and Monica Martin - Awake and Pretty Much Sober

thebhoy
Emeritus
December 24th 2009


4462 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

merry christmas. This is a classic, better than 90% of the other Christmas music out there.

Ponton
Emeritus
December 24th 2009


6145 Comments


Merry Christmas Caleb and a fine review as well.

Eggnog With Nutmeg
Fireplace With Fire
Snow Falling Outside
Political Correctness Fuck you


nice


Digging: Emperor X - Western Teleport

Aids
December 24th 2009


24410 Comments


"Political Correctness - Fuck You" Amen
Nice pick for a 69th review Waior haha. Have a happy Christmas

ziroth
December 24th 2009


1260 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

nice. Merry Christmas sputnik

Waior
December 24th 2009


11630 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Nice pick for a 69th review Waior haha.




haha yeah i grimaced at that for a second or two

March_Of_Sand
December 24th 2009


784 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nice review and Merry Christmas everyone.

Lambda
December 24th 2009


2654 Comments


Merry Christmas everybody!

endlessartix
December 24th 2009


275 Comments


There's snow and ice everywhere where I live.
Nice review

cirq
December 24th 2009


9344 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

[img]http://www.age-dtoperfection.com/snoopy%20charlie%20brown%20christmas%20tree.jpg[/img]



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