Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Santo and Johnny - S/Tdotdotdot
artworkThis early eighties collection of Santo and Johnny's work was a welcome release at a time when only "Sleep Walk" and "Twistin' Bells" had been reissued on comps. It conteains several gems worth seeking out.
Picks: Caravan, Summertime, All Night Diner, Blue Moon, School Days, Sleep Walk, Slave Girl, Dream, Raunchy, Venus, Alabamy Bound, Teardrop, Bulls-Eye, Deep Purple, Twistin' Bells, You Belong To Me, Theme From 'Come September', Long Walk Home, Hop Scotch

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Teardrop 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.