Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Santo and Johnny - Santo and Johnnydotdotdot
artworkThis is an expansive, if not necessarily best of collection of tracks from one of instrumental rock's legendary acts. Santo and Johnny's sound was part of the foundation laid for surf music. Two songs, "Sleep Walk" and "Slave Girl" are part of the history of surf.
Picks: Sleep Walk, I'll Remember [In The Still Of The Night], Caravan, Crying In The Chapel, Teardrop, Venus, Summertime, Theme From 'Come September', You Belong To Me, Bulls-Eye, A Thousand Miles Away, Save The Last Dance For Me, Lazy Day, Tequila, Teardrop, Annie, Twistin' Bells

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.

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.

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.

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.

All Night Diner dotdotdot
Country (Instrumental)

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

Summertime dotdotdot
Dramatic Suave (Instrumental)

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

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.

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.

Harbor Lights dotdot
MOR Suave (Instrumental)

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Dream Lover dotdot
Daydream Fluff (Instrumental)

Soft flowing daydream fluff, pretty but of little impact.

Prisoner Of Love
Lap Steel Syrup (Instrumental)

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

Canadian Sunset dotdot
MOR Suave (Instrumental)

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

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.

Tenderly dotdot
MOR Slush (Instrumental)

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

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.

Teardrop dotdotdot
Near Surf (Instrumental)

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

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.

Dream dotdot
Daydream Fluff (Instrumental)

Soft flowing daydream fluff, pretty but of little impact.

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.