Blast From The Christmas Past… or Vince Guaraldi Trio – A Charlie Brown Christmas

Music_album_record_a_charlie_brown_christmas

With the holiday season in mind, what better time to look back at one of the greatest Christmas records; Guaraldi created something so magical that one cannot imagine the animated special without the music. The best moments of a Charlie Brown Christmas is where the animation and the music link arm in arm to create a perfect mood.

“Merry Christmas Charlie Brown” yell the Peanuts their heads all look to the sky and the holes that are their cartoon mouths move to the sound of “Hark, The Hearld Angels Sing.” It is one of my favorite Christmas special moments – but why should you own the soundtrack – and why on vinyl?

First, the music not only holds up without the cartoon, but it actually stands out as something special alone. Guaraldi’s greatest triumph as an artist was always his ability to convey emotion through music. In just over 40 minutes he captures the varied feelings brought out during the season. There is a sense of not only joy and wonder, but also empathy, sadness, and even humour. It is music that can be enjoyed with a set of headphones or put in the back ground as you enjoy a glass of Riesling with a few friends. It is an awesome sit down record that seems as familiar as reminiscing with an old friend during the holiday season.

So, the real question… why vinyl?

Glad you asked.

With only a decent turntable, the sonics hold up against the CD. In fact, it sounds a bit better. Having played them against one another, certain piano runs just have a warmer and more dynamic feel. It sounds like someone is in the room playing rather than a couple of speakers.

Next, while a CD is a pretty good gift, a limited edition coloured vinyl album is a really cool and collectable gift. Hecky darn, it’s an amazing and sentimental Christmas gift. Really it is the kind of thing that someone remembers exactly who gave it to them over the years, and will be pulled out with a big smile on their face.

Most record stores are carrying a green translucent vinyl edition that both looks and sounds great. However, if you are looking for something a little more… collectible, Newbury Comics has two variant editions. The first was released last year and is a red and white split vinyl that was limited to 1500 copies and sells for close to $40 USD. The second was put out for this year’s holiday season on pink ribbon candy coloured wax and limited to 1000 copies. Even better, it’s priced at a much more palatable $21.99 USD.

cbc1Vince-Guaraldi-Trio-A-Charlie-Brown-Christmas-Exclusive-LP-Vinyl-2154540-1_1024x1024

Trust me, if I didn’t have it already, I would be ecstatic to find it under the tree.

 

10 Awesome Christmas Records … available on vinyl

christmasvinyl

The holiday season brings out the nostalgia in most of us, and nothing seems quite as cool as breaking out the Christmas wax with a few friends and sharing some good tunes. Since the tactile nature of vinyl makes it a great sentimental gift, here are some great records to acquire for (yourself or) others as you celebrate the holidays.

jdm

John Denver & The Muppets – A Christmas Together

Say what you want about Denver and his antiseptic brand of environmental folk-rock… his work with the Muppets was truly outstanding. Back in 1979, he performed a one-off Christmas Special with the Muppets entitled A Christmas Together, which has never been released onto home video or DVD. Regardless, the soundtrack has become quite the holiday classic.  I mean come on; the admission price is worth it just to hear Fozzy forgetting words and Miss Piggy over-articulating “gold” in “The Twelve Days Of Christmas.” In terms of vinyl, you have some great options if you look hard enough. There is the standard black edition, however; if you are looking for the ‘wow factor’ there is either the more coveted green vinyl or picture disc.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qt3wPl7bdFQ

grinch

Dr Seuss – How The Grinch Stole Christmas

Nothing quite like Frankenstein’s monster (Boris Karloff) narrating a beloved holiday classic… and, of course, you have the singing of Tony the (Frosted Flakes) Tiger (Thurl Ravenscroft) with the most outrageous holiday lines ever… turning this into a ‘must have’. Two separate editions of this classic are available on vinyl for fans. The first has the familiar animated special cover while the other has the Dr Seuss original Grinch version. Both editions have special ‘Grinch Green’ coloured versions available.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZgP0aUKlmNw

ROUND 1

Imagene Peise – Atlas Eets Christmas

Back in 2007, the Flaming Lips were still at their peak as they were touring 2006’s At War With The Mystics. So, with a massive backstory written on the CD jacket, they put out a Christmas record in very limited quantity under the pseudonym Imagene Peise. The only clue to it being the Lips was a sticker on the plastic wrap that read “Merry Christmas from the Flaming Lips.”

Fast forward a few years and the Lips have re-released Atlas Eets World, a record that mixes joy with quiet reflections and darker hues of green and red that doesn’t so much shine a warm fire glow as threaten to burn in post apocalyptic flames. Last year’s Black Friday / Record Store Day version was released in translucent red vinyl and is still widely available at your favourite record retailers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RW7IZBUMc8

nightmarechristmas

Soundtrack – The Nightmare Before Christmas

For those of us who like our stop motion animation specials a little darker in tone than the various Rankin/Bass giggles, The Nightmare Before Christmas provided the annual holidays with a refreshing blast of gothic insanity. After all, nothing says Christmas like skeletons and zombies learning lessons about the spirit of the season. Interestingly, the vinyl versions of this record have only been released as two 180 gram picture discs; making it a very collectible gift for that Tim Burton fan in your life.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPblZa10_Pk

bigstarchristmas

Big Star – Jesus Christ (10 inch)

This Black Friday – Record Store Day has seen the re-release of Big Star’s epic “Jesus Christ” on coloured vinyl. Originally found on Third/Sister Lovers, “Jesus Christ” has been covered by artists ranging from REM to Blue Rodeo and many points in between.  The 10” also contains six other classic tunes by the power-pop pioneers, making it both a great gift and an introduction to one of the 20th century’s most overlooked and influential bands.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIO3KvvgCqA

shehimchristmas

She & Him – A Very She & Him Christmas

A few years back, music hipster M. Ward and New Girl star Zooey Deschanel teamed up as She & Him, putting out a string of albums with a sound reminiscent of well crafted pop songs from the 60’s and 70’s. With that same motif intact, they also released the wonderful A Very She & Him Christmas covering classic hits “Baby It’s Cold Outside”, “Blue Christmas”, “Sleigh Ride” and a slew of others. Last year saw the album rereleased on clear vinyl or, if you don’t mind shipping, Newbury Comics in the US has a special 180 gram vinyl version in translucent green. Limited to 1200 copies, it is sure to be a coveted collectible in the near future.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rz4oG4eh5J0

soulchristmas

Various Artists – Soul Christmas

The 60’s really was the golden era for Christmas music, producing a virtual ton of soul infused classics. Coming out of the southern Stax and Atco record companies was a compilation of some of the era’s biggest soul acts. Led by artists as inspired as Otis Redding and Booker T. & the MG’s, Soul Christmas has appeared on many best Christmas albums of all-time lists. If this album appeals to you, you’re in luck, as it has just been reissued on vinyl this year.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_k5skKLwb8&index=3&list=PLgaJr2id8YsLN8Kn0IzH9seI0rUeltgq3

brownchristmas

James Brown – A Soulful Christmas

As long as there have been great Christmas records, there has also been outstanding contrarian holiday music. Rather than cover the standards or spin the same old cheer with familiar themes, Brown took Christmas in a more observational direction. Starting off with “Santa Claus, Go Straight To The Ghetto”, he would follow it with “Believers Shall Enjoy (Non Believers Shall Suffer)”, “Say It Loud: I’m Black and I’m Proud”, “Let’s Unite The World For Christmas” and “Santa Claus Gave Me A Brand New Start”. It may not be the usual Christmas tunes, but they are all outstanding. A Soulful Christmas was re-released on vinyl last year.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2j9zRrJUPs

Music_album_record_a_charlie_brown_christmas

Vince Guaraldi Trio – A Charlie Brown Christmas

For many of us, our introduction to jazz was through Vince Guaraldi and his work with the Peanuts. The music itself takes us on Charlie Brown’s search for meaning amongst all the tinsel and can bring you to tears without any need of the cartoon itself. The playful nature of “Linus and Lucy” and the sadness of “Christmas Time Is Here” are only eclipsed by that incredible performance of “Hark, The Herald Angels Sing.”

As a gift, you have three outstanding options on vinyl. Most record stores carry a special green translucent version. If you are looking for something a little more… um … special; Newbury Comics is selling two different variant editions. The first is a red and white split vinyl while the other is a pink ribbon-coloured copy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6zypc_LhnM

Print

Various Artists – Phil Spector: A Christmas Gift For You

Music being subjective, we could all argue until we are blue in the face about what the greatest pop-focused Christmas record is; suffice it to say, this one is mine. When Darlene Love breaks into the opening of “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” you get a song that conveys joy, sorrow, hope and yearning all at once. Phil Spector used his ‘wall of sound’ to create an atmosphere rich in texture and emotion.

Last year A Christmas Gift For You was released for Black Friday/Record Store Day on limited edition red translucent vinyl. However, this year has seen another edition made available in a much wider release in both standard black or translucent red. It is well worth the cost.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4EvZOXEoJ84&index=11&list=PLzvFf9lFuV-fdtni_6bi4bq5hSDvSNiMU

 

So this year, instead of giving another ornament to hang on the tree, give the gift of spinning coloured wax. It’s sentimental, sounds great and is the perfect gift for that special someone whose turntable is amongst their prized possessions.

You can also read this at edge.ca

Episode One – Christmas and more…

Introduction

Here it is folks, the first real post for the new Barrettbites. Or, well, at least the written blog part. The video portion will be coming soon, but needs a bit more work. I put the theme song at the top of the post and will start adding the rest of the episode as each video segment is completed.

In the future, I probably won’t cram five pieces into a single post, but I wanted to get this out there…

I really hope you enjoy it, because it was a lot of fun putting it together.

Thanks

 

 

 

On The Path To Vinyl Glory

Twice a year the wonderful people at “Record Store Day” get great bands to do some limited stuff and music geeks like myself line up to wait for our store of choice to open its doors. Official Record Store Day is in late April, but the second is on Black Friday. The irony is that you wait in a line to spend cash on things with no savings to be had at all, while a couple doors down people are waiting to save a whack of cash on things to play their music on.  Once the flood gates open, the line becomes a mob in an effort to get those one or two must have items while they remain on the shelf. This of course leads to an absurd scene in which a bunch of musical nerds (including myself) paw at narrowly displayed vinyl until they get hold of that Mother Love Bone 7” inch and send records flying in all directions during the collection process.

The highlights of this Black Friday included in no particular order

The Ramones  – curated by Morrisey

It doesn’t get much cooler than one of the planets most influential artists picking songs that best represent another set of influential artists.

ramones curated

A red vinyl re-release of Phil Spector’s A Christmas Gift For You

Perhaps the greatest pop influenced Christmas record ever recorded.

Print

A limited re-release of the Kinks Muswell Hillbillies

The best example of Ray Davies overall song writing prowess.

kinks

A live Green Day ep Tune in, Tokyo as well as a bunch of 45’s by J.Mascis, the Decemberists, the Beatles and many many more things.

Today, as I was kneeling to see what was on the lower shelves, a shower of various records fell upon my head. There was Dio and Joe Satriani. There was Miles Davis and the Flaming Lips. There was Green Day  and David Bowie raining down upon me as if to say “Merry Christmas, now please,  take home more than you want or can afford.”

So, while I got a few things I wanted today, some of which I will review later, there is always a couple that just didn’t show, or were purchased before I could get to it. This times it was a cover of J.Mascis doing Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You” and the Greatest Christmas rock album ever – Phil Spector’s A Christmas Gift for You. I’ll keep looking for them, but for now, they have escaped my grasp.

Which is just how it goes on Record Store Day in Canada…  A long list shows up over the net – you put together a geek wish list of items you want –  you politely battle for a position in front of the corner where said records are displayed – only to find that a bunch of items are not at your favorite retailer –  or are not even being shipped to your country.

 

The Blast From The Past

Vince Guaraldi Trio

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Fantasy Records (Newbury Comics Limited Edition Red/White Vinyl)

Music_album_record_a_charlie_brown_christmas

 

With the holiday season in mind, what better time to look back at one of the best Christmas records ever.  Guaraldi created something so magical that one cannot imagine the animated special without the music. The best moments of A Charlie Brown Christmas is where the animation and the music link arm in arm to create a perfect mood.

“Merry Christmas Charlie Brown” yell the Peanuts their heads all look to the sky and the holes that are their cartoon mouths move to the sound of “Hark, The Hearld Angels Sing.” It is one of my favorite Christmas special moments – but why should you own the soundtrack – and why on vinyl?

First, the music not only holds up without the cartoon, but it actually stands out as something special alone. Guaraldi’s greatest triumph as an artist was always his ability to convey emotion through music. In just over 40 minutes he captures the varied feelings brought out during the season. There is a sense of not only joy and wonder, but also empathy, sadness, and even humour. It is music that can be enjoyed with a set of headphones or put in the back ground as you enjoy a glass of Riesling with a few friends. It is an awesome sit down record that seems as familiar as reminiscing with an old friend during the holiday season.

So, the real question… why vinyl?

Glad you asked.

With only a decent turntable, the sonics hold up against the CD. In fact, it sounds a bit better. Having played them against one another, certain piano runs just have a warmer and more dynamic feel. It sounds like someone is in the room playing rather than a couple of speakers pumping sound.

Next, while a CD is a pretty good gift, a limited edition coloured vinyl album is a really cool and collectable gift. Hecky darn, it’s an amazing and sentimental Christmas gift. Really it is the kind of thing that someone remembers exactly who gave it to them over the years, and will be pulled out with a big smile on their face.

Now the copy I have here is from Newbury Comics which is not only a pretty cool comic book/record store retailer, it also puts out limited edition coloured vinyl. For A Charlie Brown Christmas, Newbury has a limited run of 1500 records put out on a split red and white 12” vinyl priced at $27.99 US. Shipping is a very reasonable eleven bucks and change, which coming in from the US, believe me – it could be a lot more.

Even if you don’t get the Newbury edition, the A Charlie Brown Christmas album had been released a couple years back on a limited green vinyl release. While Amazon isn’t carrying it, you can still spot the odd one in some of the better independent record stores around.

http://www.newburycomics.com/rel/v2_viewupc.php?storenr=103&upc=103-2036171N

 

Lately I’ve been thinking… listening… whatever… it’s a new review damn you!

Imagene Peise (The Flaming Lips)

Atlas Eets Christmas

Warner Bros.

ROUND 1

Back in 2007, the Flaming Lips were still at their peak as they were touring 2006’s At War With The Mystics. So, with a massive backstory written on the CD jacket they put out a Christmas record in very limited quantity under the pseudonym Imagene Peise. The only clue to it being the Lips was a sticker on the plastic wrap that read “Merry Christmas from the Flaming Lips.”

Fast forward seven years and the Lips are doing a larger run of their Christmas record, this time on red translucent vinyl. What is extremely fascinating about Atlas Eets Christmas is just how well the Lips stay in character. Yes they sound like the Flaming Lips, but with the crackles and pops they have added to the record, at times it really does come off as some little known jazz artist that walked straight out of a mid-eastern desert.

So what you get is this instrumental record that is driven by piano and accompanied by synthesizer and sitar. Instead of the usual holiday sentiment poured into your consciousness like a well known Chardonnay, you find yourself drinking Port for the first time ever. It’s cigar smoke drenched and kissed with oak in a darkened bar where you sit alone by the window and contemplate the true meaning of that one bright star hovering in the sky.

Or, let’s just say that this isn’t an easily accessible holiday record designed to make you remember roasting chestnuts and singing Rudolph with the family. Nope, it mixes joy with quiet reflections and darker hues of greens and reds that don’t so much shine with a warm glow as threaten to burn. The character of “Imagene” is rumoured to have committed suicide in 1978, and that underlying feel is carried throughout the record.

Personally, I found myself rather mesmerized by Atlas Eets Christmas in much the same way I find some of the darker records in my collection. It isn’t an easy listen, and not one I would pull out while toasting the health of my in-laws as we sit down to our turkey. But, it is a worthy record to pull off the shelf in mid-December after you’ve spent a few hours shopping in an over-crowed mall, that has ‘syruped’ your ears with greetings from Celine and Bolton in some attempt to make you want to buy more stuff from more places. This might be a kind of apocalyptic Christmas record, but sometimes that’s what we need in order to really appreciate what we have.

Anyway, it is a very cool record, and any Flaming Lips fan would be ecstatic to find this under the tree on Christmas day. When I last checked their were still copies to be found at the independent record stores around town, and it shouldn’t cost anymore than 25 bucks a pop.

 

Comic Relief – The Christmas Edition.

Perhaps you’re looking for the perfect gift this holiday season to give to that Fan Expo person in your life… well if so, look no further than the Uncanny X-Men # 143.

Uncanny_X-Men_Vol_1_143

In this Christmas issue of the Uncanny X-Men, every fan-boys dream girl-next door Kitty Pride, faces off against a soul sucking demon, with claws that can rip through solid steel walls and yada yada yada. Because you know, nothing says happy holidays like a young Jewish teenage girl being chased through a mansion by a demon reminiscent of the aliens in… well Alien.

From a trivia/ value point of view, it is also the end of a run of issues that saw the stellar Chris Claremont and John Bryne team up and produce some of the X-Mens most memorable issues including the introduction of Canadian Super-Team Alpha Flight, the Death of Phoenix, and the inspiration for the most recent X-movie, Days of Future Past.

Both writers are legends within the business and comic guides always have their material marked up a couple extra bucks. From a gift perspective, this is a stand- alone issue that has great character development, and importance within the greater Marvel community as the first issue Kitty has had to battle alone. Honestly, it shows just how damn smart her character is.

Prices will range depending on the condition of the comic itself, but you should expect to pay between $20 and $35 for a decent copy. And even knowing the issue came out back in 1981, which by my math makes it 33 years since its release, you can still find  it easily enough at some of your better comic shops. Or if all else fails – ebay.

 

Collectors Corner

A Christmas Carol or Scrooge

The 1951 Alastair Sim Version

For many years I have stayed up late on Christmas Eve so that I could watch the old 1951 classic black and white version of A Christmas Carol. For me, it is the ultimate holiday movie. While not exactly what I would call family friendly, it does put forward not only the themes of kindness and generosity, but also the desire for redemption.

The movie acts as morality tale, horror film, and holiday movie all in one shot, which pretty much speaks to its lasting appeal. Then of course there is the multitude of versions inspired by both the original Dickins tale, and this film. Bill Murray, Mickey Mouse, the Muppets, Jim Carrey and many many many others have all taken shots at telling this story.

However, from a collectors point of view, beyond the books and movies (movie in Blu-Ray can be had for about $15.99 from Amazon) – what is there?

a christmas dvd

Glad you asked.

The movie posters!

Yep. The movie posters.

A quick search online and you will find yourself at movieposters.com which is located in Toronto and has a massive selection of movie posters to be had.

Seeing as I’m sticking to the 1951 film, you can find two different reproductions at great price points.

The first is close to your standard sized movie poster at 26” by 39” for $10.99. Standard size these days is 27” by 40” but places that sell posters usually also sell frames that will fit any film poster size.

cc standard

Of course, if you don’t have wall space for something so big, you can go with the more classic look poster that is only 11” by 17” which is also $10.99.

cc small

Then, let’s not forget the collectors dream come true – an original poster! While it is identical to the 26″ by 39″ it is bigger.

The one selling at movieposters.com (http://ca.movieposter.com/poster/MPW-54764/Christmas_Carol.html) is not standard size and does not come cheap. Remember that this movie holds legendary status amongst people that love both old films and Christmas themed films.

The poster itself is 44.5” by 82.5” which is both wider and taller than me – and I’m pretty wide and tall. It also sells for $2529.99; which means, sign up for their newsletter and wait for a 15% off sale because even that will save you a few hundred bucks. Of course, a serious collector will love ya forever with a gift like that, but let’s face it; it is out of the price range for most of us.