Deluxe Edition of 'A Charlie Brown Christmas' arrives in spatial audio

Article Contributed by Craft Recordings | Published on Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Last holiday season, fans of A Charlie Brown Christmas were given an unparalleled behind-the-scenes look at the making of the classic soundtrack through a selection of never-before-heard studio outtakes in Craft Recordings’ Deluxe and Super Deluxe Editions. Now, the 24-track Deluxe Edition arrives in spatial audio, allowing listeners to seemingly place themselves inside the studio with the Vince Guaraldi Trio, as they create iconic selections like “Christmas Time Is Here,” “Linus and Lucy,” “Skating,” and “O Tannenbaum” to accompany the beloved 1965 PEANUTS animated TV special. Available today in Dolby Atmos, hi-resolution, and standard digital audio formats, A Charlie Brown Christmas (Deluxe Edition) includes the original 11-track album—featuring an upgraded 2022 stereo mix from the original two-and three-track sources by the GRAMMY® Award-winning engineer, Paul Blakemore—plus 13 studio outtakes and highlights from Guaraldi’s sessions, all of which make their debut in immersive spatial audio and are available to listen to now.

Last year, A Charlie Brown Christmas reached new heights—nearly six decades after its debut. In May 2022, the album was certified 5x Platinum by the RIAA, while over the holidays, it reached its highest placement ever (No.2) on Billboard’s Top Album Sales chart, beating its previous peak of No.6 in 2021. A perennial favorite, A Charlie Brown Christmas ranked as the US’s top-selling holiday album on vinyl from 2012–2021, while it remains the best-selling jazz album of all time, alongside Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue. Among other honors over the years, it was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall of Fame and was added to the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry.

When A Charlie Brown Christmas first aired on December 9, 1965, no one expected just how monumental the half-hour animated special would be. Based on Charles M. Schulz’s immensely popular PEANUTS comic strip, the Emmy® and Peabody® Award-winning special captured nearly half of America’s TV audience that night. It would soon go on to become an essential holiday classic and launch one of the 20th century’s most popular franchises. Helmed by veteran TV producer Lee Mendelson, A Charlie Brown Christmas featured an engaging score by the Bay Area jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi. A fast-rising star—best known at the time for his GRAMMY-winning instrumental crossover hit, “Cast Your Fate to the Wind”—Guaraldi paired original cues (“Skating,” the instantly recognizable “Linus and Lucy” theme, and the Yuletide essential, “Christmas Time Is Here,” among them) with traditional holiday fare (including his spirited takes on “O Tannenbaum,” “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” and “What Child Is This?”).

Now, with recently discovered audio from Guaraldi’s five 1965 sessions, fans of A Charlie Brown Christmas can hear his creative process—as he worked alongside Mendelson and director Bill Melendez to craft the timeless score. Joined by bassist Monty Budwig and drummer Colin Bailey for many of the sessions, as well as bassist Fred Marshall and drummer Jerry Granelli for others, Guaraldi can be heard performing multiple takes of “O Tannenbaum,” “Christmas Is Coming,” and “Christmas Time Is Here,” while a rehearsal of the vocal track (featuring young singers from San Rafael’s St. Paul’s Church Choir) is also included. Additionally, listeners will delight in out-takes of such festive favorites as “The Christmas Song,” “Jingle Bells,” and “Linus and Lucy.”

Music critics around the globe were taken with the Deluxe Edition of A Charlie Brown Christmas upon its release on CD and LP in 2022. Audiophile Review wrote, “The new mix retains the heart and soul of what this best-selling…album was always about, but delivers more air and presence around the instruments and an overall greater sense of detailing…it does sound like you’re closer to being in the studio with the band!” The UK’s Record Collector noted that the bonus material “Allows the listener to be a fly on the wall as pianist Guaraldi and his trio finesse their material with multiple takes in the recording session.” Paste Magazine hailed the album as “Vital for a collector. . . . [It] offer[s] fans a chance to hear how Guaraldi developed his solos and his approach to standards like ‘Greensleeves’ and ‘O Tannenbaum.’ And there’s something wonderfully humanizing about hearing the metronome and false start in the first take of ‘Linus & Lucy.’” Stereophile praised, “Blakemore’s remixes sound great…any student of Guaraldi’s unique approach to jazz will surely find all the bits and pieces interesting,” while JazzTimes declared, “For Guaraldi fans, hearing his different improvisational ideas take shape qualifies as a holiday year-round.”

Click here to experience A Charlie Brown Christmas (Spatial Audio Deluxe Edition)

A Charlie Brown Christmas (Spatial Audio Deluxe Edition) Tracklist:

1.   O Tannenbaum (Dolby Atmos Mix / 2022 Stereo Mix)

2.   What Child Is This (Dolby Atmos Mix / 2022 Stereo Mix)

3.   My Little Drum (Dolby Atmos Mix / 2022 Stereo Mix)

4.   Linus And Lucy (Dolby Atmos Mix / 2022 Stereo Mix)

5.   Christmas Time Is Here (Dolby Atmos Mix / Instrumental / 2022 Stereo Mix)

6.   Christmas Time Is Here ( Dolby Atmos Mix / Vocal / 2022 Stereo Mix)

7.   Skating (Dolby Atmos Mix / 2022 Stereo Mix )

8.   Hark, The Herald Angels Sing (Dolby Atmos Mix / 2022 Stereo Mix)

9.   Christmas Is Coming (Dolby Atmos Mix / 2022 Stereo Mix)

10.  Für Elise Dolby (Atmos Mix / 2022 Stereo Mix)

11.  The Christmas Song (Dolby Atmos Mix / 2022 Stereo Mix)

12.  O Tannenbaum (Dolby Atmos Mix / Take 2 / September 21, 1965)*

13.  O Tannenbaum (Dolby Atmos Mix / Take 3)*

14.  Greensleeves (Dolby Atmos Mix / Take 6 / October 28, 1965)*

15.  Linus And Lucy (Dolby Atmos Mix / Take 1)*

16.  Christmas Time Is Here (Dolby Atmos Mix / Instrumental / Take 1)*

17.  Christmas Time Is Here (Dolby Atmos Mix / Vocal / Rehearsal)*

18.  Christmas Time Is Here (Dolby Atmos Mix / Vocal / #1, Take 4)*

19.  Skating (Dolby Atmos Mix / #7, Take 1 / September 22, 1965)*

20.  Jingle Bells (Dolby Atmos Mix / #3, Takes 1-4 / September 21, 1965)*

21.  Christmas Is Coming (Dolby Atmos Mix / Take 3 / September 17, 1965)*

22.  Christmas Is Coming (Dolby Atmos Mix / #1, Take 3 / September 21, 1965)*

23.  Für Elise (Dolby Atmos Mix / Takes 1-2)*

24.  The Christmas Song (Dolby Atmos Mix / Take 8 / October 28, 1965)*

*First time in Dolby Atmos