Saturday, December 22, 2007

A New Angle on Christmas

About eight or so years ago my pal Mike found this album at the famed Unique Thrift Store in Roscoe Village. In it's day it was the best place to find the odd and unusual records that people would toss out. The best of these are local bands and entertainers whose albums were only sold at their shows or in the restaurants they played at.

However, Mike found the best album in the history of found sound. The cover was plain white card board with stenciled on the front the words: "Another Great Sound Recording By Charles Angle (organ & voice). Chicago Illinois U.S.A. and ever since it's not been a Christmas without playing this album.

I've tried to find out something about Mr. Angle for years. A friend thought that he may have been the weekend organist at a bar her parents would go to in Gary, Indiana in the 60's. The Charles Angles of the world have slowly faded along with drinks with umbrellas in them and quiet supper clubs. When I first moved up to the Northside of Chicago there were a few left in the early 90s. On Clark, there was a fabulous bar restaurant with a man who played there for thirty years. A mural decorated a wall of the restaurant showing him at his piano looking his Liberace best. Probably in his 70's his toupee in place, he still played until they closed turning the joint into some fancy fish restaurant. This recording captures a bit of the excitement of going to these places.

His version of Let it Snow is definitive. With his malapropism of, "Oh, the weather outside is frightening..." or "it doesn't show signs of shopping..." never fails to get a smile out of me or to sing along with his mistakes. Each song is an adventure is wondering if Charles will finish or give up. I've such a distinct image of the recording session: Recorded at his organ in the red velveted, Chinese lanterned, black leather boothed bar, with the lights turned down low, so that he can barely see the sheet music, and his ever present whiskey and coke at his side.

The odd thing about this album is that one side is Christmas music and the other is standards i.e., Close to You, Peg O' My Heart. I'll post those someday if there is any interest.

So below for listening and download is the one and only Charles Angle. Either you'll love him or hate him, but you'll never forget him.

Merry Christmas From A-Hole-In-The-Head Blog!

Note: I've had problems with these downloads before... if they songs don't come up right away, refresh a couple of times until it connects with the site.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ok, after having listed to all of these tracks this morning, I have two observations.

1. Charles Angle is a better organist than singer. Anybody who could follow and accompany these vocals should be working for Liza Minelli (sorry Liza--love you..but you need to get it together, ok?)

2. I think it would be more fun to listen to the actual album than to listen to these tracks on the internet. The major joy of this album isn't so much the actual music on it, but the OWNERSHIP of the album itself. It's the rarity of it, and the pride in having found such a rarity that makes it special.

Gary Airedale