Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Vince Guaraldi Trio - A Charlie Brown Christmas

Ah, Christmas! Talk of visiting family and gossip of what gifts they got for whom flutters in the air. Like noxious gas. I hate it. Well, maybe hate is a harsh word, but I personally think Christmas is overrated. Sub-par Christmas specials air on TV to poison our minds with jolly old Saint Nick and try to get us into the mood. It doesn't work for me. The worst has to be the outdated holiday tunes that play on repeat on the radio and dig into your brain like an earwig. If I hear another arrangement of Jingle Bell Rock, I will slice my throat with a rusty swiss army knife and throw myself off a bridge. At least it's only seasonal. Well, this album is different.

Vince Guaraldi. That name might not ring a bell at first glance, but after hearing just one of his songs, you'll instantly recognize who this man is. A Charlie Brown Christmas may be the only Christmas album I currently enjoy. Why? Many reasons. The first is pretty obvious: it's memorable. It's instantly recognizable. Maybe because we all saw the show as kids and just remembered the quiet soundtrack in the background. Would someone who has never watched the show find this as memorable? I can't say. Maybe I suffer from a nostalgic bias.

Speaking of quiet soundtrack, that leads me to another point. It's quiet and ignorable, which sounds kind of bad but it isn't in this context. I believe that the point of Christmas music is to be atmospheric and put people in the holiday mood while it's playing in the background. Most of these tiresome tracks on the radio are really overproduced and very in-your-face about it, making you acknowledge it's existence while you mindlessly chatter with the person beside you discussing how terrible the song is. You can leave this on in the background while enjoying yuletide cheer. And alcohol. Especially alcohol.

The instrumentation is really great. Most tracks are different arrangement of popular instrumental songs usually associated with the holiday season but the great thing about it is that it's enjoyable all year long. The cool jazz style makes it so that it can be enjoyed outside the context of Christmas, and that's rare when it comes to Xmas songs. I can't actually think of another Christmas album that I'd be able to enjoy in July. The piano on some of the tracks can be pretty impressive and the bass is solid throughout.

Some songs, granted, are a little too corny for their own good. I felt that way about Hark, the Herald Angels Sing. Too Christmas-esque for my own personal taste. Für Elise kind of stuck out as a sore thumb for whatever reason and could have been left out. I don't really think I have a big problem with any other song on this. This is probably the perfect Christmas; perfect mood-setter while being perfectly ignorable. Now if you'll excuse, I have to go purchase materialistic goods to make someone happy for a month or two. *sigh* This is why I appreciate Festivus a little more every year.

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