"The Complete Warner Bros. - Seven Arts Recordings” 2-CD’s
Guaraldi’s three Warner-Seven Arts albums re-mastered on 2-CDs. Includes four previously unreleased bonus tracks, with liners by Guaraldi’s biographer Derrick Bang. Many of us were introduced to Vince Guaraldi via his 1963 Grammy winning “Cast Your Fate to the Wind.” In 1965 producer Lee Mendelson contacted Guaraldi asking him to score the upcoming Peanuts special “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” It was a match that made television history: “Linus and Lucy” and “Christmas Time Is Here” became forever fixtures of the Christmas Holiday season.
The focus of this 2-CD box-set is from when Guaraldi moved from Fantasy Records to Warner Bros. Disc one is comprised of 1968’s “Oh, Good Grief!,” and 1969’s “The Eclectic Vince Guaraldi.” “Oh, Good Grief!” is an updated reinterpretation of his Peanuts classics, this time with the addition of electric guitar with electrified harpsichord. 1969’s “The Eclectic Vince Guaraldi” found Guaraldi experimenting with a string section; it also featured Guaraldi’s first recorded vocal and original compositions that were somewhat lengthy rock jams.
Disc two offers (four) “Previously Un-issued Bonus Tracks” and Guaraldi’s final album for the label; “Alma-Ville” from 1970. Unfortunately “Alma-Ville” was Guaraldi’s last ever recording, he suddenly passed from an unexpected heart-attack; Guaraldi was only forty-seven. The four bonus tracks are; Burt Bacharach’s and Hal David’s composition for Dionne Warwick: “Do You Know the Way to San Jose,” an alternate take (from “The Eclectic Vince Guaraldi”) Sonny Bono’s “The Beat Goes On,” plus an 18th century hymn famously covered by the Edwin Hawkins Singers: “Oh, Happy Day,” and a Guaraldi original “The Sharecropper’s Daughter.” “Six of the nine “Alma-Ville” songs are Guaraldi originals recorded with various band configurations. In addition to the original compositions “Alma-Ville” finds Guaraldi covering The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby,” Duke Pearson’s classic “Cristo Redentor” and Michel Legrand’s and Norman Gimbel’s “Watch What Happens.”
This 2-CD box-set is unquestionably a must-have for Guaraldi fans. The package is voluminous with its fact-filled sixteen page booklet that’s also visually appealing. Derrick Bang's essays are comprehensive, illuminating, and insightful. The re-mastering offers obvious sonic improvements over previous Warner Bros. and especially the (never sonically enhanced) Wounded Bird reissues. Long story short: Kudos to Omnivore for assembling this top-shelf reissue. Final note: Guaraldi’s tunes still sound as fresh as they did from when they were originally issued decades ago. “Oh, Good Grief” indeed!
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