From its earliest planning stages, SESAME STREET was designed to be a show that would use music & singing as a part of the material being taught. So it was only natural to release the musical content on records, not only to reinforce the curriculum lessons for children when they weren’t watching the show, but also so that SESAME STREET music could be enjoyed just for its own sake.
The Early Albums
The first 6 albums were released by Columbia Records & Warner Bros. Records, both well-established major labels. These were deluxe albums, issued in colorful gatefold covers, usually with bonus material such as posters, lyric booklets, & photos & drawings of the show’s characters. This arrangement lasted for the first five years of the show.
During the summer of 1970, as The SESAME STREET Book & Record became a best seller, Bob McGrath & Loretta Long also released their own children’s albums. While not part of the SESAME STREET canon (even though they both mention SESAME STREET on their covers), they also became well-known albums because of the show’s huge popularity.
In 1974. SESAME STREET created its own series of records, on an independent label that was called SESAME STREET Records, with a custom record label logo of the SESAME STREET sign. These albums were manufactured by Children’s Records of America from 1974 to 1976, & by Distinguished Productions from 1977 to 1984. Over 70 titles were produced over the ten-year run of the label. The catalog included reissues of all of the previous Columbia & Warner Bros. albums, although in less lavish packages than their original editions. At first, titles were only issued on vinyl, but over the years, they were also produced on cassettes & 8-track tapes. The SESAME STREET Records label, unfortunately, was shut down in 1984.
Sight & Sound
Sometime after the Records label closed, many SESAME STREET titles began to be reissued on cassettes by an educational company called Sight & Sound. While some tapes used the original cover pictures, others had new cover pictures. An important historical footnote during this period is that in 1987, the very first SESAME STREET CD was produced, called Happy Birthday from SESAME STREET, & it would be the only CD produced until the early 1990s.
In 1990, titles began to appear on Golden Music, which was the music division of Golden Books. A mix of new titles appeared, beginning with tributes to JIM HENSON & Joe Raposo, along with reissues of older titles. Golden’s license lasted until 1994.
In 1995, Sony Wonder began issuing a new series of titles. This was looked on with interest by some SESAME collectors, since Sony owns the back catalog of Columbia Records, who put out the very first SESAME STREET LP in 1970. While that album was not reissued on CD by Sony Wonder, the third Columbia Album, The Muppet Alphabet Album, was reissued as Sing the Alphabet. However, 1 section of dialogue was cut which referred to turning the record over, which wouldn’t make any sense to CD listeners.
The Sony Wonder years culminated with Songs from the STREET: 35 YEARS of Music, an elaborate 3-CD boxed set produced in association with Sony Music’s Legacy Recordings. This set was full of classic & rare tracks both from records & from live performances on the show. It also contained a detailed booklet about the history of the show, written by Christopher Cerf. It was the first time SESAME STREET had received the boxed-set treatment from a major label, although several multi-LP boxed sets had been released over the years on SESAME STREET Records.
In 2007, Koch Records announced that it would begin distributing SESAME STREET titles. The first titles began to appear in 2008, with reissues of albums that had previously been released on Sony Wonder. In 2010, Koch Records, now renamed E1 Music, finally reissued The SESAME STREET Book & Record as part of SESAME STREET: Old School: Volume 1, a collection of long-out-of-print early SESAME STREET albums.
Beginning in 2018, SESAME Workshop directly began to re-release their catalog into new compilations as digital downloads & CDs, marking the first time new compilations have been produced of existing SESAME music since 2004. All of the songs are from previously released material, but some are on CD for the first time.
In addition to the main library of SESAME STREET music, over the years, original cast albums have been sold at the SESAME STREET Live shows. See SESAME STREET Live discography for a chronological list of titles.
- SESAME STREET 45 RPM Sets
- SESAME STREET book & audio sets discography
- SESAME STREET Live discography
- SESAME STREET Records
- SESAME STREET singles
- SESAME STREET videography
- SESAME STREET discography on the Muppet Wiki
- SESAME STREET discography on the GROUCHES Wiki
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