It’s hard to believe that Peanuts is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, Lucy and the rest of the gang are older than most everyone that you know. As iconic as the characters created by Charles M. Schultz are, it’s difficult to picture them without also thinking of the music associated with the animated specials. When A Charlie Brown Christmas was released in 1965, it stood apart from other children’s shows of the time for many reasons. It lacked a laugh track, it used child actors, it dealt with emotions like depression, and it featured a jazz score for its soundtrack. It was such a success that Peanuts and the music of Vince Guaraldi are forever intertwined. In celebration of the 70th anniversary of Peanuts, Craft Recordings is reissuing Peanuts Greatest Hits, A Charlie Brown Christmas Soundtrack, and for the first time on vinyl, Peanuts Portraits.
Peanuts Portraits is a collection of songs by Guaraldi that span the many Peanuts animated specials over the years. On Peanuts Portraits, each song is a musical cue that was written to portray and personify a different character. The album both begins and ends with the most iconic Peanuts song, “Linus and Lucy”. This is song that many would consider to be the “Peanuts theme song” and usually brings to mind all the characters doing their signature dances on stage while Schroeder plays the song on his toy piano. The version at the beginning is the version by Vince Guaraldi while the album closer is a version by pianist George Winston. The funkiest tune on the album is appropriately for “Joe Cool”, Snoopy’s alter ego. Another song that perfectly captures a character is and alternate version of “Schroeder”, the child prodigy with a toy piano. The track is a solo piano song that purposely sounds like someone practicing for a piano recital. “Little Birdie” is the only song on the album with lyrics that are sung over a blues-jazz song in which you can’t help but think of Snoopy’s best friend, Woodstock.
Overall, Peanuts Portraits is a fantastic album. The jazz scores written by Guaraldi make it a perfect album to just sit back and enjoy for both the music and the nostalgia. The album’s inner sleeve fits great with the album, in that it gives a short bio for each character to further expand on the portrait of each. And if colored vinyl is your thing, Vinyl Me, Please has released a red variant limited to 1000 foil stamped and numbered copies.