NOSTALGIA COMPILATION I Anyone remember Les Vogt, the Prowlers, Patty Surbey or Sipson P. Kloop?
German record company has just issued a compilation of rare rockabilly and rock
'n' roll records from the 1950s and 1960s. The catch: It's rare
Gone Aragon is a 28-song CD featuring tracks recorded for Vancouver's first
record label, Aragon, by long-forgotten artists like Les Vogt and the Prowlers,
Rudy Hayden and the Country Boys and Patty Surbey and the Canadian V.I.P.'s.
was released by Bear Family records of Hambergen, one of the most acclaimed
specialist labels in the world. Bear Family is known for its lavish, impeccably
produced multi-disc collections of rock and country stalwarts like Jerry Lee
Lewis, Wanda Jackson and Lefty Frisell. Where else can you find a 17-CD
collection called Jim Reeves, The Complete Studio Recordings?
somebody at Bear Family must really dig
is all rather bizarre to Vogt, who's now 65 and is somewhat amused that his
recording career is hot four decades after it ended. "It's kind of fun to
see that part of my life encapsulated," says Vogt, who has reconnected with
old bandmates like bassist Larry Tillyer and piano player Jim O'Hara because of
really something for the grandkids. The family and all the relatives are just
ecstatic because nine-tenths of them didn't know anything about it. The releases
we had never went anywhere to speak of, even in
being modest. In fact, the Prowlers were the first local act to score a No. 1
Blamers and its B-side, Moon Rocketin', are the highlights of both the Prowlers
The Blamers is a straightforward late-50s early '60s pop-rock ballad in the
Don't Be Cruel mould; lyrically, it's a teenage love song with religious
undertones. "It was sort of a protest song before protest songs even had
that title," says Vogt. "There was a little bit of a religion thing in
there that I thought was a little square at the time. But it was sure popular
and did well."
much prefers Moon Rocketin', a slightly wacky slice of space-age rock that could
have been written by the great British producer Joe Meek (of Telstar fame.)
The Blamers or Moon Rocketin' were intended for release. Kloop was simply
looking for a group to record The Blamers as a publishing demo so he could flog
it to somebody famous. Kloop contacted the Prowlers, and they went into
conditions were rather primitive: everything had to be recorded live, on one
microphone. To keep the drums from overwhelming the recording, the drummer was
stationed in the hallway outside the studio. There was a bit of time left after
the band finished The Blamers, so the band cut Moon Rocketin' off the cuff --
only Vogt really knew the song. Then they packed up and left.
years later, Kloop pitched his song (using the Vogt recording) to Peggy De
Castro of the De Castro singers, a girl group that was playing The Cave
nightclub. De Castro's husband owned a record company and took the demo back to
problem was, by the time the 45 came out, the original Prowlers had broken up.
So it was released as a Les Vogt solo record. "Boom, they had it out,"
says Vogt. "I have no idea how well it did [outside
never saw any money from the recording, which was pretty much standard practice
in the early rock 'n' roll days. "Everybody got screwed, really," he
says. "Roy Orbison told me one time if he had to do it over, he'd take a
flat guarantee and never mind this royalty crap. That's pretty much what it
they did have a sizable local following for their live shows. In the summer,
they were regulars at a hall in
Prowlers CD has 26 songs, including two rockin' Prowlers releases from 1958
(Rock Me Baby and Get a Move On) and a spirited 1961 version of My Blue Heaven,
done in a rollicking Fats Domino-goes-rockabilly style.
songs on the disc were recently discovered in the archives of the late, great
disc jockey Jack Cullen. Vogt was a big Cullen fan in the '50s -- the Prowlers
were named after Cullen's Owl Prowl radio show, and Cullen played a big part in
the band's local fame at the time.
of our girlfriends called Jack Cullen's radio program," explains Vogt, who
became one of
phone was just being held up in the room -- the sound must have been completely
awful. We were rehearsing Elvis tunes, and I was trying to sound as much like
Elvis as I could, as everybody did at the time. He got so many calls on it, he
called us in the studio and he recorded six songs.
six songs were not uncovered until very recently. Red Robinson found them. This
collector guy [Gary Olson] that Red knew said 'these rockabilly freaks are gonna
Prowlers are already known out there to a degree. They've ripped off a lot of
whatever we did in the past, whatever was released -- even rehearsal tapes got
put on disc of some kind in
local collector, Ed Lasko, convinced Bear Family to do the
Europeans are voracious [collectors,]" said Lasko. "The very first
time I saw a Prowlers record for sale was in
has most any early
real dazzler is I Want a Beatle For Christmas, a Brenda Lee-style rocker by
Patty Surbey and the Canadian VIPs that features one of the greatest female
yelps ever committed to vinyl. Surbey is surely one of the great lost singers in
Canadian rock -- no one seems to know whatever happened to her. But on Real Gone
Aragon, her flame burns again.
Real Gone Aragon and The Prowlers with Les Vogt are German imports on Bear
Family records, so they might be hard to find. Try collectors' record stores
like Neptoon on