Various Artists

Real Gone Aragon, Vol. 1: Roots, Rockers & Rockabillys

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DJ and big band leader Al Reusch started the independent label Aragon Records in Vancouver in 1946 and throughout the '50s and '60s he turned out an impressive series of country boogie, rockabilly, and early rock & roll 78s, 45s and LPs, most of them by performers who never enjoyed much more than regional success on the imprint. These obscure acts deserved much more than that, though, as this wonderful and revelatory 28-track compilation makes clear, and sides like Keray Regan's "Vibratin'," a pure percolating delight, and Patty Surbey's irresistible novelty song "(I Want) A Beatle for Christmas" seem like they should have been massive hits. Other bright spots collected here include the garage proto-surf instrumental "Rebel Rock" by, who else, the Rebel Rockers, "Honey Strollin'" by local legends the Prowlers, and a quite credible version of Chuck Berry's "Too Much Monkey Business" by Little Daddie and the Bachelors, who just happen to be Tommy Chong's very first band (pre-Cheech, of course). Germany's Bear Family Records are masters at recognizing, locating, compiling and annotating these kinds of anthologies, and this one is no exception. Listed as volume one, here's hoping that more volumes from the Aragon vaults arrive soon. Reusch frequently licensed his recordings to other imprints, so undoubtedly several more of these lost gems are floating around out there.

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