The luchador-masked garage/surf band Los Straitjackets have been a popular live act for over 20 years, thanks to tight musicianship and energetic, theatrical stage shows. They’re known for sharing stages with other showy, dynamic performers like the burleque troupe The Pontani Sisters, but lately they’ve begun working with someone altogether different—Nick Lowe, the great songwriter and producer who lived the transition from pub rock to New Wave and beyond. Los Straitjackets were a feature of Lowe’s Quality Holiday Revue tour last year, and will be again this year.
That album will contain Los Straitjackets’ version of the immortal Vince Guaraldi number “Linus and Lucky,” famous as the theme music from the PeanutsTV specials, starting with A Charlie Brown Christmas 50 years ago. Thanks to the Peanuts connection, that song is by far pianist Guaraldi’s best-known work, and there are abundant covers out there, by artists as varied as yuppie jazz institution Wynton Marsalis and indefatigable skate-punks JFA. But if it’s all you know of him, do yourself a favor and pick up Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus or even just a best-of. He was pretty amazing.
Los Straitjackets are hardly strangers to holiday music—in the late ‘90s, a Straitjackets Christmas appearance on Late Night with Conan O’Brien was an annual tradition, and in 2002 they released ‘Tis the Season for Los Straitjackets. Guitarist Gregorio El Grande discussed the appeal “Linus and Lucy” held for the band to DM in an email exchange:
We listen to all different kinds of instrumental music and always loved the Vince Guaraldi score for A Charlie Brown Christmas. One of the discoveries working on “Linus and Lucy” was finding out the opening riff sounds exactly like the opening riff in “You Really Got Me by The Kinks” when you rock it up. You would never think of those two songs being similar! The best thing about covering this song is seeing everybody doing the Peanuts dances when we play it.