Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Santo and Johnny - Sleep Walkdotdotdot
artworkSanto and Johnny were just young spuds when they hit with "Sleep Walk." They created a whole new sound, still unmatched and unique. Their use of lap steel in rock was a first, and their writing was often spectacular. This CD compiles much of their fifties output. Here, a pick indicates it could fit into a surf set.
Picks: Sleep Walk, Caravan, All Night Diner, Blue Moon, School Days, Slave Girl, Raunchy, Alabamy Bound, Theme From 'Come September', Hop Scotch, Poor People Of Paris, Lady Of Spain, Istanbul, Cairo, Midnight In Moscow, Brazil, Cherry [Sherry], The Loco-Motion, Save The Last Dance For Me, Tear Drop, Road Block, I'll Remember [In The Still Of The Night], Dream Lover, Tequila, Silhouettes, Shake Rattle And Roll, Crying' In The Chapel, I Want To Hold Your Hand, She Loves You, All My Lovin'

Track by Track Review


Sleep Walk dotdotdotdot
Lap Steel Pre Surf (Instrumental)

It doesn't get much more definitive than this. Sinewy slow dance classic, beautiful melody, covered endlessly and never as well. Simply a stunning song. Originally released in 1959, this is one of the great instro singles of the distant past, which featured, for the first time, the lap steel in a lead role (outside of country and Hawaiian). This slithery slowdance romancer was/is the prelude to a whole lotta whoopee. It is so very beautiful. Totally sweet guitar sounds.

Caravan dotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

This speedy version of the Duke Ellington classic features a country whine from the mouth of the steel that is most infectious, and it's backed by by a walking bass line that is magnificent. Nothing like Al Casey or Dick Dale, of course, just pure fun! Originally released in 1959.

All Night Diner dotdotdot
Country (Instrumental)

Quite the countrified jump tune. Infectious and melodic original. Originally released in 1959.

Blue Moon dotdot
MOR (Instrumental)

Strings accompany this too pretty rendition of the standard, dripping in the MOR sensibilities that overtook their maturing. Maturing? It sounds like it's designed for the oldsters. Originally released in 1959.

School Days dotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Chuck Berry didn't mean this, and it really doesn't work. The sax is out of place, and the pretty keys are too. Originally released in 1959.

Slave Girl dotdotdotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

This is my favorite Santo and Johnny tune. It also fits importantly into the story of surf, even though it predates the genre by two years. When the Farina brothers wrote this, they used Ernesto Lacuoña's flamenco classic Malagueña as the inspiration. Fast forward to sixty-two when Tommy Nuñes wrote the most gorgeous of all Latin surf instrumentals Latiña, which he based in part on Slave Girl and Malagueña. Listen to them in sequence. It's chilling. This recording is mysterious and Middle Eastern and stunningly beautiful, while retaining piercing energy. Originally released in 1959.

Raunchy dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Bill Justis' hit the charts with this instro in the late fifties. This version is pedestrian and unremarkable. It has the licks down, but isn't unusual or hot. Originally released in 1959.

Alabamy Bound dot
MOR (Instrumental)

One of those old "Orange Blossom Special" kinda train songs, infectiously flying down the tracks until the horrid organ and girls' chorus comes in, applying the shoehorn that eases it into the elevator. Originally released in 1960.

Theme From 'Come September' dotdotdotdot
Steel Pre Surf (Instrumental)

Using a backtrack that suggests "Tequila," "Theme From 'Come September'" is actually quite cool. It sports plenty of energy, and certainly more rock edge than you might expect from a cover of this tune.

Hop Scotch dotdot
Country (Instrumental)

A totally fun track, country as all hell. The lap steel is just singing away, with joy. The strings render it somewhat questionable, but then, that was the way of the day. Originally released in 1961.

Poor People Of Paris dot
MOR (Instrumental)

Holy cow, did they suddenly find themselves on an elevator with Lawrence Welk? Cheesy strings, organ, poppy standard... everything to make you return your breakfast only slightly used. Originally released in 1962.

Lady Of Spain
MOR (Instrumental)

Oh MAN! A big production number, fit for the afternoon drive at Lite Antiquity 99 FM. MOR
to the max! Originally released in 1962.

Istanbul dot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

An un-spirited presentation of a standard. No flair, and the commercial backing horns just wimp it out more. Originally released in 1962. The horns remind me of the theme to The Prisoner.

Cairo dotdotdotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

A different take of "Slave Girl," less trebly, fuller sound. It sounds like it is from the same sessions, but maybe a different take. Really good, of course! This is my favorite Santo and Johnny track. Originally released in 1962.

Midnight In Moscow dotdot
MOR (Instrumental)

MOR with accompaniment, for octogenarians with nervous disorders. Kenny Ball's original version wasn't to hot either. Originally released in 1962.

Brazil dotdotdot
MOR (Instrumental)

A spirited rendition of a standard, with lots of panache, marred only by slight string accompaniment. Makes you wanna invest in Muzak, Inc. Originally released in 1962.

Cherry [Sherry] dotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

Whoa, the Four Seasons' "Sherry" on lap steel. The simulation of the falsetto slides is impeccable. It's cheesy, but really funny. A nifty side trip. If Paul Johnson played lap steel, he probably would have done this song. Originally released in 1963.

The Loco-Motion dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Little Eva was so evil sounding. Santo and Johnny do such a pristine cover. There's lots of spirit, and a bunch of fun at hand here. Great it ain't but an ice breaker it is. Think of it as a nice addendum to a set of lounge classics. Originally released in 1963.

Save The Last Dance For Me dotdotdot
Pre Surf MOR (Instrumental)

I expected real mung here, but the cool rhythm guitar and the spirited lap steel work work with the solid drums to create a really enjoyable instrumentalization of this classic Drifters hit. Originally released in 1963.

Tear Drop dotdotdot
Near Surf (Instrumental)

A stylistic followup to "Sleep Walk" that doesn't have the magic, but is pretty and melodic. Originally released in 1963.

Road Block dotdotdot
Steel Guitar Surf (Instrumental)

This is an odd track, written like it was not for lap steel, but yet it works well interpreted for the steel. Really strong, melodic, different, and interesting. Slow and moody, with vibrato guitar in the lead and the lap steel playing a support role. The haunting tones and distant danger make for an interesting track. Originally released in 1963.

I'll Remember [In The Still Of The Night] dotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

If you imagine straining "In The Still Of The Night" through "Sleep Walk," you'll hear this in your head. Really cool. Originally released in 1963.

Dream Lover dotdot
Daydream Fluff (Instrumental)

Soft flowing daydream fluff, pretty but of little impact.

Tequila dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

With the lap steel carrying Chuck Rio's sax parts, and with piano accompaniment, this is a pretty unusual cover of this familiar classic. Originally released in 1963.

Silhouettes dotdot
Steel Guitar Sock Hop (Instrumental)

The tinkling piano, the fifties slowdance cadence, the weepy lap steel... it all adds up to soft and pretty romantic listening. Originally released in 1963.

Shake Rattle And Roll dotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Jerry Lee's monster, much too unmelodic for an instro. It's OK, but unnecessary. Take a relatively unmelodic song, and you get a dull presentation. Originally released in 1963.

Crying' In The Chapel dotdotdot
Steel Guitar Pop (Instrumental)

There is no emotional response than crying to set to a lap steel. This melodic and pretty/sad song is well suited for a semi-"Sleep Walk" arrangement. Nice. Originally released in 1963.

I Want To Hold Your Hand dotdot
MOR (Instrumental)

Yuk-o! The horns, the strings the mung... what do you expect for a Beatles song. Originally released in 1964.

She Loves You dotdot
MOR Rock (Instrumental)

Wanted: A quart of Black Flag to kill unwanted Beatles. Way better than "I Want To Hold Your Hand," more melodic and interesting, but still so MOR that it hurts. Originally released in 1964.

All My Lovin' dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Does the David Soul album come to mind? How about Pete Fountain. Give me a break.