Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Santo and Johnny - Encore / Hawaiidotdotdot
artworkPressed in India, printed in New York, this seems to be a legitimate reissue from the original label. The tracks are mostly from original album masters, in some cases original session tapes, and all in stereo, except for a single demo. The tracks vary a lot in quality, with quite a few MOR dogs, but the handful of winners in the style of "Sleep Walk" make it worth while.
Picks: Over The Rainbow, Lazy Day, Venus, Deep Purple, Prisoner Of Love, You Belong To Me, Annie, Alabamy Bound, The Breeze and I, Tear Drop, Old Man River, Long Walk Home, Adventures In Paradise, Blue Hawaii, Pineapple Princess, Sea Shells, Aloha, Reflections, Hawaiian War Chant, Song Of The Islands, Sweet Lelani, Hawaiian Wedding Song, Isle Of Dreams, Now Is The Hour, Crying In The Chapel, A Thousand Miles Away, Save The Last Dance For Me, Dream Lover, Tequila, Shake Rattle And Roll, Sugar Stroll, On Your Mark, Tear Drop, Raunchy

Track by Track Review

Over The Rainbow dotdot
Steel Guitar Elevator (Instrumental)

Like much too much of Santo and Johnny's later output, this is destined for the Muzak® hall of fame. The lap steel is wonderful of course, but the orchestral accompaniment from the Hutch Davie Orchestra is more than this boy can stand.

Lazy Day dotdotdot
Lap Steel Afternooner (Instrumental)

This aptly titled track has excellent loud lap steel tone, while sporting an overall subdued sound. Melodic and wistful, it floats across a lazy afternoon.

Venus dotdotdot
Lap Steel Pop (Instrumental)

I hate to say it, but this version makes this Frankie Avalon hit palatable. It's a good melody to adapt to the slide, and the arrangement is actually quite nice, despite it's relative tameness.

Deep Purple dot
Lap Steel Pop (Instrumental)

April Stevens and Nino Tempo hit the Billboard charts with this. Their version wasn't any more interesting.

Prisoner Of Love
Lap Steel Syrup (Instrumental)

Oh boy... The chorus just marks this for the scrap heap of history. Egad!

You Belong To Me dotdotdot
Lap Steel Prom (Instrumental)

With less coolness than "Sleep Walk," this nonetheless sports similar magnetism and poise. Darn nice, though certainly slushy.

Annie dotdotdot
Lap Steel Lite (Instrumental)

This is cool. It opens with a dry run through the riff on lap steel only, then studio chatter, and finally the released take. This has been done to death by the MOR acts of the day. It's less chunky than some, more soulful than most, except maybe the Champs. It is also usually titled "Anna." Lightweight.

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.

The Breeze and I dot
Steel Guitar Flamenco (Instrumental)

In an almost Martin Denny arrangement marred by nearly obscene choral accompaniment, this drips from the walls of the infirmary like morgue fungus. Exceptional lap steel work over antiquarian fluff.

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.

Old Man River dotdot
Steel Guitar Cheese Cake (Instrumental)

Oh boy! Here we go again. Flutes, orchestra, fluff everywhere.

Long Walk Home dotdotdot
Steel Guitar Stroll (Instrumental)

Slow and bluesy post meridian stroll with a military snare roll backbeat. It is like an antidote to the hustle of the prom, a prelude to the warm and squishy.

Adventures In Paradise dotdotdot
Steel Guitar TV Theme (Instrumental)

The theme from the short lived TV show set in Tahiti, this is both very pretty and lush, as well as mushed over with the chorus and strings.

Blue Hawaii dotdot
Steel Guitar Elvis (Instrumental)

The chorus and the syrup drip in unison on the floor, while the lap steel oozes in the distance.

Pineapple Princess dotdotdot
Mouseketeer Steel Guitar (Instrumental)

You gotta hear this precious lap steel interpretation of the Annette Funacello hit. It's really cute, funny, serious, and playful. Even the strings are tolerable.

Sea Shells dotdot
Steel Guitar Housewife (Instrumental)

Yikes, the suburban boredom of it all is beyond the pale of this suburban kid. Sappy.

Aloha dotdot
Steel Guitar Oi (Instrumental)

A natural, with a horrid "Dutchman's Gold" chorus. It's only missing Walter Brennan.

Reflections dotdotdot
Steel Guitar (Instrumental)

Really slow and pretty lap steel, very emotionally played.

Hawaiian War Chant dotdotdot
Steel Guitar Polynesian (Instrumental)

Except for the chorus, this is pretty cool, like the Halibuts' version, though with much less edge. The orchestral stuff is a bummer too.

Song Of The Islands dotdotdot
Steel Guitar Polynesian (Instrumental)

Orchestral, elevator mung, sappy sounds, strings, and, oh yes, the lap steel. Don Ho has left the building.

Sweet Lelani dotdotdot
Steel Guitar Polynesian (Instrumental)

Take Bert Kaempfert to the Sandwich Islands and look what happens. Let's hope it's not catching.

Hawaiian Wedding Song dotdotdot
Steel Guitar Silk (Instrumental)

Sweet serenade for those afraid of actually feeling anything beyond the precarious thrills of a romance novel. Too silky for words.

Isle Of Dreams dotdotdot
Steel Guitar hazmat (Instrumental)

Despite the lush and subdued mix, this is actually a very nice track. Sweet lap steel and a tolerable backtrack combine to take you to the edge, right to the stage door through which Lawrence Welk's bubbles create a hazmat emergency in the alley.

Now Is The Hour dotdotdot
Lush Steel Guitar (Instrumental)

It's about time - or not. Spooky chorale mung, and sounds that occupy the space between track 23 and 25.

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.

A Thousand Miles Away dotdotdot
Steel Guitar Polynesian (Instrumental)

"A Thousand Miles Away" employs a backtrack that is right out of "In The Still Of The Night" and an arrangement that is spared the orchestral trappings. Very simple and pure, romantic and smooth. Shep and the Limelights didn't mean this to happen, but hey, it's very cool.

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.

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.

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.

Sugar Stroll dotdotdot
Steel Guitar (Instrumental)

The lap steel hides a slushy tune, melodic and suave, but not rockin'. It hints of the old west, like Death Valley Days, but is just a little too cute.

On Your Mark dotdotdot
Steel Guitar (Instrumental)

Rockin; country twango with a jumpin' beat and a happy melody line. The rhythm guitar's chop behind the lap steel and big drums helps this stay on the rock side of the aisle. Quite a nice track.

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.

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.