Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Santo and Johnny - S/T / Around The Worlddotdotdot
artworkSanto and Johnny remain originals. Their sultry lap steel sound contributed to the delinquency of many a minor female, and certainly influenced a load of guitarists. This CD couples two of their discs, plus several previously unreleased tracks.
Picks: Caravan, Summertime, All Night Diner, Blue Moon, School Days, Sleep Walk, Tenderly, Slave Girl, Dream, Canadian Sunset, Harbor Lights, Raunchy, Around The World, A Foggy Day [In London], Poor People Of Paris, April In Portugal, Lady Of Spain, Arrivederci, Roma, Istanbul, Cairo, Midnight In Moscow, Tokyo Twilight, Brazil, Manhattan, Sealed With A Kiss, I'll Remember [In The Still Of The Night], Road Block, Twistin' Bells, Bulls-Eye, Theme From 'Come September', Stage To Cimarron, The Mouse, Love Lost, Cherry [Sherry], The Loco-Motion

Track by Track Review

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.

Summertime dotdotdot
Dramatic Suave (Instrumental)

George Gershwin's classic, driven with dynamic playing in a sultry setting. Quite effective.

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.

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.

Tenderly dotdot
MOR Slush (Instrumental)

Jeesh... what a let down following "Sleep Walk." Like Percy Faith or something.

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.

Dream dotdot
Daydream Fluff (Instrumental)

Soft flowing daydream fluff, pretty but of little impact.

Canadian Sunset dotdot
MOR Suave (Instrumental)

Hugo Winterhalter's hit, slushed and packaged for octogenarians.

Harbor Lights dotdot
MOR Suave (Instrumental)

"Harbor Lights" is another of the nondescript MOR tracks. It just doesn't do anything for me.

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.

Around The World
MOR (Instrumental)

Shimmering and weird interpretation of "Around The World In 80 Days," like maybe from the guitar of Buddy Merrill. Totally MOR and utterly useless. The complete lyrics provided by a soothing chorus for retirement homes.

A Foggy Day [In London]
MOR (Instrumental)

Man oh man, does this take you to the express elevator. Argh!

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.

April In Portugal
MOR (Instrumental)

Slushy MOR with an organ lead and orchestral accompaniment the likes of which only Lawrence Welk would imagine.

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.

Arrivederci, Roma dotdot
MOR (Instrumental)

While pretty darn MOR, and while the chorus and plucky violins beg for assassination, the lap steel work is at least solid.

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.

Tokyo Twilight dotdot
MOR (Instrumental)

Orchestral imitation of eastern sounds... it doesn't work, though the idea of lap steel Japanese music is quite appealing.

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.

Manhattan dotdot
Steel Guitar MOR (Instrumental)

MOR slush with strings and Jackie Gleason thinking.

Sealed With A Kiss dotdotdot
Steel Guitar Slush (Instrumental)

Pretty, but then again, Bryan Hyland was such a looker...

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.

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.

Twistin' Bells dotdotdotdot
Steel Christmas Surf (Instrumental)

Santo and Johnny mesmerized us back then with their romantic "Sleep Walk." Their "Slave Girl" inspired the Sentinals' "Latin'ia." So, when the bros did "Jingle Bells," naturally it ripped. Now, I know it's not actually a surf tune, but when you get this close and inspire surf bands, I guess it's alright. This track appears in a couple of pretty hard to find forms these days, both from the mercenaries at Rhino Records.

Bulls-Eye dotdotdotdot
Steel Pre Surf (Instrumental)

This is a surprising track, with a sorta Duane Eddy or Lonnie Mack quality, but with more edge and that sweet lap steel lead. Energetic and driven. Quite tasty.

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.

Stage To Cimarron dotdotdot
Steel Guitar Cowboy (Instrumental)

A big Duane Eddy guitar and lap steel combine for a really cool track, except for the orchestral mung. It's no worse than the treatments often applied to Duane Eddy's hits, but still... a perfectly good performance with bite turned into mush.

The Mouse dotdot
Steel Guitar MOR (Instrumental)

Playful MOR for the Lawrence Welk show, but with more edge.

Love Lost dotdotdotdot
Steel Guitar Suave (Instrumental)

With the same feel as "Sleep Walk," "Love Lost" is a slow sultry stroll in the moonlight kinda track. Very nice indeed.

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.