Reinterpreted “Peanuts” themes stand the test of time on Vince Guaraldi’s 1st Warner Bros album (1968)…

Vince Guaraldi – Oh Good Grief! – Omnivore Records/Warner Bros ORLP-287 – stereo LP – 1968 – 27 min. – ****1/2

(Vince Guaraldi – piano, electric harpsichord; Eddie Duran – electric guitar; Stanley Gilbert – bass; Carl Burnett – drums)

Vince Guaraldi’s career took off in 1960 after the single “Cast Your Fate to the Wind” caught the public’s fancy and climbed the pop music charts. However, what cemented Vince’s place in popular culture were his compositions written for the seasonal “Peanuts” cartoon TV specials. There was a charm and jauntiness to the catchy melodies that set off the witty dialogue written for Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Schroeder, “Pig-Pen,” and the inimitable beagle, Snoopy. The specials were hits with children, and the hip musical accompaniment appealed to their parents.

Vince Guaraldi was a San Francisco based jazz pianist, who was also well known as a member of vibraphonist Cal Tjader’s combo. Vince was a creative musician, who also had a strong interest in Bossa Nova music. He recorded several albums with guitarist, Bola Sete, for the Fantasy Record label.

For his first album for Warner Bros., Guaraldi wanted to expand the soundscape of his Peanuts theme compositions. He added an electric harpsichord, and expanded the role of guitarist, Eddie Duran. For the 50th anniversary of Oh, Good Grief, Omnivore Records has released a totally remastered (by Kevin Gray) vinyl edition in a striking translucent red. The acoustics are superb, and it is a pleasure to revisit these classic tunes in a warm and inviting reissue. The only quibble is that at only 27 minutes long it feels like a small slice of rich dessert, leaving the listener pining for more.

“Linus and Lucy” begins our nostalgia revisit with its instantly recognizable melody. Vince’s stride like piano is mated with a counterpoint overdub of his electric harpsichord. Some blues riffs are included. “You’re in Love, Charlie Brown” has another catchy melody with a Caribbean flavor and some tasty Eddie Duran guitar. “Peppermint Patty” is enhanced with some swirling harpsichord effects. “Great Pumpkin Waltz” is elegant.

Side Two begins with “It’s Your Dog, Charlie Brown.” It’s simple, yet winning theme is repeated to set a relaxed aura. The title track follows as a bossa nova with guitar taking lead, and Guaraldi’s harpsichord adding so much. “Red Baron” is the most straight ahead jazz on the album, highlighting Vince’s piano chops and Duran’s soloing. “Rain, Rain Go Away” is a gorgeous ballad done with no overdubs and an almost orchestral feel before a bluesy guitar solo by Eddie Duran.

For fans of Guaraldi, and lovers of the old seasonal Peanuts TV specials, this will be a recommended purchase. The remastering and the striking red vinyl will only seal the deal.

Tracklist:
Side One:
Linus and Lucy
You’re in Love, Charlie Brown
Peppermint Patty
Great Pumpkin Waltz

Side Two:
It’s Your Dog, Charlie Brown
Oh, Good Grief!
Red Baron
Rain, Rain Go Away

—Jeff Krow