Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Flips Instro Gems No.1

Flips Instro Gems No.1
Santo & Johnny - Sleepwalk

At a recent poll at the excellent Shaking All Over yahoo music group (that both Shaun and I are members of) I voted for Sleepwalk the great atmospheric guitar/steel guitar instro from 59 by Santo and Johnny as a 59 fav.

I picked up the original 45 in a great oldies shop in Toronto back in the 90s, same day I saw Ray Condo live down by the lake, JLL tear up Larry King`s prog on tv and had a drink with Ronnie Hawkins' then manager (shame every holiday isn't like that) whilst feeding the local black squirrels with the bar`s peanuts!!!

Back in 59 this strumtastic gem barely crept into the UK top 30 (prob coz of Pye`s crap label design and distribution system) but in the US it sailed to the top of Billboard`s hot 100 for 2 weeks and stayed in the top 40 for over 3 months making it the instro summer/autumn hit of 59. The Brooklyn boys song had been quietly going into obscurity until the great Alan Freed started giving it heavy rotation on his Noo Yawk tv and radio show, and the Canadian American 45 started selling like Krispy Kremes outside a cop shop.

Some rock critics will have you believe tha 1959 was sorta teen idol/rock decline year but just check the hot 100`s rocking chart names underneath Sleepwalk`s heady fortnight at the top, Lloyd Price,Everlys,Phil Phillips, Fats, Johnny & Hurricanes, Sandy Nelson, Jan & Dean, Webb Pierce (the epic I Aint Never),Johnny Horton, Duane Eddy, Drifters, Crests,Coasters,Coway, Sgt El, Jackie Wilson, Eddie Cochran (Somethin Else),Ray Shapre (Linda Lu),La Vern Baker Johnny Cash ( 5` High and Rising), Little Willie John, Johny Restivo, Jack Scott (The Way I Walk) and the Clovers --- I rest my case.

Fellow radio station jock Scott Muni then promoted (along with the NY catholic Youth Org)a massive r`n`r live show at the Coliseum in NY and the duo joined forces with Jack Scott, ex Bluecap Tommy Facenda, Johnny Restivo, The Isleys, Connie Francis and Roy Hamilton.

The Farina boys follow up Teardrops crept into the top 30 for Xmas but by the new decade they were yesterday`s newspapers as instro bands like the Ventures and the Uk`s Shadows in particular became the norm, 58 to 62 became bit of an instro golden age and we will be checking outa few more over the next few weeks.

Horror writer supremo Stephen King is a rocker (check out Christine etc) and had the good taste to include our lad`s slinky instro repeatedly in the movie Cat`s Eye.

Here's a cool clip of da boys on US tv in 59 and as a special treat for uncle Shaun if he checks the side bar some young upstart called Setzer gives it a going over but in the immortal words of Dobie Gray the original is still the greatest.


For the ultimate in getting the emotion of the song to gel with the sentiments of a film, how about at the end of the Ritchie Valens biopic, La Bamba. Sleepwalk is playing as Ritchie's family hear the news of his death on the radio. It's perfect cinema - Shaky.

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