Collector’s Corner

David Shannon

All Allman


During my early childhood my parents had At Fillmore East on heavy rotation around the house, and for years that album signified my touchstone for all things Allman Brothers. I memorized the long jams, the blues guitar, the hippie hillbilly sensibilities and biracial personnel depicted on the gatefold, the different moods set by each side of the double album. Now I'm discovering some of the history of the Allmans -- and Duane in particular -- that preceded that album, as well as a vault's worth of unreleased material, presented on Skydog: The Duane Allman Retrospective, a tasty and comprehensive box set enjoying a re-release by Rounder with beautiful new packaging for the original music and booklet.

The early Allman acts that came before the ABB had an edge that stuck with Duane throughout his short life, an edge inspired by the rough blues and rock influences that he catalyzed so well in his guitar playing and singing. The box set features tunes by the Escorts, the Allmans' first incarnation, which range from hazy instrumentals and surf rock to mesmerizing southern R&B (check out their version of Bobby Blue Bland's "Turn On Your Love Light"). Later outfit the Allman Joys, perhaps known best for the psychedelic rock and bop of "Spoonful" and the blue-eyed soul of "Mister, You're A Better Man Than I," maintains this early edge with a blend of fuzzy, bluesy, and hooky numbers featured on the release.

In addition, the set contains a handful of great tracks by Hour Glass, another early lineup, as well as recordings that span Duane's career as a session player, accompanist, live jammer, and leader of the ABB. A number of rare singles, songs unavailable on any other release, and a 72-page book with essays by Duane's daughter Galadrielle and Rolling Stone scribe Scott Schinder are also included.

Jason Serinus

Woodstock Speaks


One of America's most beloved holiday creations, the Vince Guaraldi Trio's A Charlie Brown Christmas, has returned. Now in a deluxe package from Fantasy.

It's housed in a colorful cardboard sleeve that doubles as an easy-to-assemble Christmas house complete with stand-up figures of Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, and Snoopy, the 14-track CD includes three delicious tunes ("Greensleeves," "Great Pumpkin Waltz," and "Thanksgiving Theme") that were not part of the original LP issue of the soundtrack to the 1965 animated CBS-TV special, A Charlie Brown Christmas. And thanks to Joe Tarantino's excellent new digital remastering, it also offers sound far superior to that on the original CD issue.

Given that I supplied the whistling "Voice of Woodstock" to the 1980 animated CBS-TV special, She's a Good Skate, Charlie Brown, the fact that the Library of Congress honored the soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas in 2012, when the recording's "cultural, historical or aesthetic significance" led to its preservation in the Library's state-of-the-art Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation, counts for a lot in my book.

The Library has acknowledged that A Charlie Brown Christmas introduced Guaraldi's light and lovable original jazz themes from that TV special, as well as his jazz versions of both traditional and popular Christmas music, to an entirely new audience. It also guaranteed that Charles Schulz' heart-warming Peanuts family would become an indelible part of American folklore. As you listen to this irresistible album, it becomes clear that Guaraldi performed a minor miracle.

David Shannon

Woodie's Radical Box


American Radical Patriot, Rounder’s recent Woody Guthrie compendium, peers deeply into the life and music of the bard of the proletariat, his Oklahoma origins and chronicling of the Dust Bowl migration and the songs he wrote traveling around the country as a performer and developing political activist.

Including five fascinating hours of the 27-year-old Guthrie storytelling and performing for famed musical archivist Alan Lomax at the Library of Congress in 1940, this limited release (only 5,000 copies) is a trove, also featuring a range of Guthrie ephemera such as radio dramas, songs written while working for the Bonneville Power Administration, public service announcements, and a host of other recordings that paint a vivid portrait of the man both as political rabble rouser and loyalist, all told through his own words and songs. This collection comprises six discs, a DVD, a 60-page booklet, a 78-rpm vinyl pressing, unpublished photos and Guthrie artwork, and a free 258-page download (in PDF format).

In terms of impact on American music, you’d be hard-pressed to find a musician as influential as Guthrie. He inspired a generation of songwriters in the '60s to change forever the way Americans listen to music, to understand how it could become a vehicle for protest and defiance and emblemize a social movement. Yet even that great legacy has humble beginnings, which is probably the whole point of Guthrie’s music and which this set celebrates.

Chris Slawecki

Classic Peanuts Single Returns


"Black Friday," day one of the 2013 year-end holiday shopping season, is also Record Store Day, which independent record stores throughout the US will celebrate with stockings full of exclusive new collectible vinyl releases. Few of these releases will solicit good cheer like Fantasy Records' new Record Store Day edition of Vince Guaraldi's classic 1964 single "Linus and Lucy" backed with "Oh Good Grief," the pianist's timeless trio recordings with drummer Colin Bailey and bassist Monty Budwig, issued on gold vinyl with a new Peanuts cartoon picture sleeve.

At its rhythmic heart, the irresistibly two-fisted "Linus and Lucy" sings out the passion for samba and bossa nova that ignited Guaraldi's Jazz Impressions Of Black Orpheus (Original Jazz Classics Remasters, 2010) with this same trio. It's one of the most recognized and popular tunes ever recorded. Its flip side, "Oh Good Grief," swings a jaunty yet reflective two-minute boogie that glides and tumbles in and out of the blues.

This single accompanied the 1965 release of the first full Peanuts soundtrack, A Boy Named Charlie Brown (Fantasy, 1996). Both "Linus and Lucy" and "Oh Good Grief" are also available on Greatest Hits (Fantasy, '89) and more far-ranging, two-CD retrospective The Definitive Vince Guaraldi (Fantasy, 2009).