Tuesday, July 28, 2015

You're a Cheap Imitation, Charlie Brown

First of all, we're going to get this entry started right. Back in 1985, the animated Peanuts special "You're A Good Man Charlie Brown" aired on television. I anticipated this Peanuts special because I loved each and every one of them. I had my tape recorder all set up to record the audio... For you see, my family did not get a VCR until 1987. My parents were extremely content to remain in the dark ages when it came to technology, so I suffered until the price of VCRs became lower than $200. Before we got our VCR, I recorded the audio onto cassettes and re-imagined the video whenever I listened to it.

So here's the cassette, straight out of 1985:

This was actually one of those cheap "3-in-a-bag" cassettes you could buy anywhere (this was most likely a Woolco or K-Mart cassette). The original label had fallen off, so I replaced it with a Radio Shack one. Radio shack used to sell packs of self-adhesive cassette labels like the one you see here.

Now, I could have been a really nice guy and pulled the audio off the clear VHS copy I have of the special, but because I'm so keen on nostalgia, I pulled it off the cassette instead so you could hear all the dropouts, tape hiss, tape rumble, and background noise in all it's glory. Now quit complaining about how awful your iPhone sounds while watching Youtube.

I've brought you the first two songs and left them glued together; "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown" and "Schroeder".

Listen to them!

We should do a history lesson on this Peanuts special... These songs were originally a series of recordings made by some Charles M Schultz wannabe in 1966. They weren't ever planned to be in a Peanuts special, they were just INSPIRED by the comic strip. Eventually, these songs mutated into a musical, and finally became the definitive TV special in 1985 with the actual animated Peanuts gang.

And then, I go to the thrift store and find pieces of shit like these...

The "Bugs" Bower Boys & Girls - You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown

This came out on the Mr. Pickwick label in 1974. If you know anything about Pickwick, then I feel sorry for you because you've likely been duped out of your money by them.

Let's see what's wrong... Well first of all, Charlie Brown has hair. Second, the record boasts that "Happiness is a Peanuts album". This is NOT a Peanuts album, therefore happiness cannot exist. Third, the label is about to fall off the center of the record. Mr. Pickwick's nickname is "Mr. I Ran Out Of Glue Because I Sniffed It All Before I Recorded These Songs". Fourth, according to the label that's about to fall off, the name of the album is "Happiness is a Peanuts Album". Fifth, the back of the album encourages you to cut out the images of the cheap imitation Peanuts gang to make a "theatre", leaving your Mr. Pickwick record homeless:

The woman singing "Schroeder" is awful. Her singing is not only annoying but also off key. Schroeder should have taken her head and repeatedly bash it against the piano keys. Now THAT would have been beautiful music!

Listen to Schroeder

Snoopy's Gang presents A Time To Remember

Most of you will never get to experience the joy of scraping a streak of dry paint off a vinyl record to make it playable. I pity you.

Since this record has a picture of Snoopy on it, it MUST be an official Peanuts release, right? It also has some Paul Simon lyrics on the cover, so this must be a Simon & Snoopy album, right? WRONG.

This record was made by the Bertrun E. Glavin Elementary School in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and was released in 1980. The lyrics on the cover are from "Song For The Asking" and they've been altered. Paul Simon should sue the school and use the money to buy Edie Brickell a nice steak to cover her next black eye.

Due to the fair amount of religious songs (along with the lack of "Song For The Asking"), I figured it came from a Christian school. After looking at their website, I realized it is not (or is no longer) a Christian school, but then again schools happily pushed religious agenda on students up until the late 1980s.

If you've ever attended a school "Christmas" concert, you'll know what a group of children sound like singing, and that's all this record is. Most of it is played by a competent music teacher on the piano (most likely named Andrea Hammond). However, we're interested in the ONLY Snoopy-related song on here which is "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown", that is unless you consider "De Virgin Mary" to be Snoopy-related as well.

The song "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown" is held together by the piano player. The children in the choir are all better than the losers on the Pickwick record. However the drummer is off in another city, playing in a drunken parade.

Listen to "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown"

Snoopy Gets Promoted to Sargent

I shit you not, I recorded this video off the Pentagon channel around Christmas time. According to the host, this isn't just a person in a Snoopy costume, it's REALLY REALLY Snoopy. The United States is gonna be pretty fucked if a terrorist comes through airline security in a Snoopy costume.

And those albums I just reviewed? They're not a bunch of hacks making money off the Charlie Brown & Snoopy names. They're both genuine Peanuts releases!

So here's the video of Snoopy getting promoted from Corporal to Sergeant:

And that's it for this round. I desperately need to post more videos because I'm severely backlogged not only with video tapes, but with garbage I recorded off the dish. I'm going to try to assemble some compilations of clips and toss them on Youtube. Stay tuned!


Chris Sobieniak said...

Most people would usually go with the musical itself, which became a staple of school plays for decades to come, an saw a Broadway revival at the start of the millennium.

As an interesting comparison, here's the original concept LP version of the title song!

Musicfreak said...

Thanks very much for this article. Although I sat in my room endless times listening to the Bugs Bower version of 'You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown', the cover and back cover irked me to no end. This must have been one of my father's 'cheap' purchases. Funny thing is, even as a kid of ten years, you know that this was not the original thing.

Chris Sobieniak said...

A pal of mine has this to pass along...

"About "Bugs" Bower (referred to in the Classical Gas Emissions link...) As of very recently, he is alive, well, and happy at age 93 and lives in Florida. He's quite a musical "old pro" and raconteur."