Escape To Reality - Paul Johnson
WITH THE ´80s came the "second wave" of interest in surf-style instrumental music, a.k.a the instro-surf revival. It was an exciting time full of experimentation with new ideas for the music, tailored to a new generation. I spent the early and latter parts of this decade playing and recording with two different incarnations of my band, the Packards. But during the in-between time (´84-´85), I became fully absorbed in a very different and creatively rewarding project, in which I focused exclusively on recording in a solo-multitrack format.

Working in my home studio, I played all the parts on these tracks (including the Lynn drum machine). I opted to release these recordings as simple cassette albums (on my own HEPCAT label) and publicize them in the underground media within the rock-instrumental subculture that was now growing
worldwide; I sent out newsletters and marketed the tapes by mail order (an internet-style approach before there was an internet!)

Now all 42 of these tracks (including several that were not released on the earlier albums) have been
remastered and made available at last as a 2-album set. (This album, Escape To Reality, has the earlier tracks, and Eclectric Guitar, the companion album in this set, has the later ones.)

We hope you enjoy listening to this little slice of instro history as much as I did creating it! For me, it brings back great memories of a very prolific (and very fun!) phase of my career that resulted in some of my personal all-time favorite recordings of so many of my favorite tunes, including many originals and others from widely varied sources.     — PJ

Note: as part of the "PJ´s Archive" series, this album is reproduced as a CDR and packaged in the simpler "thin line" jewel case format; accordingly, it is offered at a slightly reduced price. (A bargain, as it also offers 21 TRACKS—several more than you´ll find on most full-price CDS...)

Note also: both of the albums in this set feature original cover art by Rick Griffin.


'80s reviews of the original releases
"Johnson is a first-rate guitarist and an even more impressive composer of instrumental rock… this cassette has Paul playing all guitars, bass and drum computer, but it achieves a remarkable live combo sound. Stratocasters, Martin acoustics, six-string basses, and tom fills race by, as do elements of ragtime, the British Invasion, and Mexican music… This is anything but nostalgia; it provides ample evidence that instrumental rock does have a future and that Paul Johnson will likely be in the vanguard."
— Dan Forte—Guitar Player mag

"You might not think a drum machine would sound good on such basic rock rhythms, but Johnson has obviously put a lot of care in the programs, and the detail work pays off. It is the same attention to little things that makes the tape glow; every nuance of a clean Fender tone can be heard, and almost every variation of these classic guitar stylings is utilized: i.e., arpeggios, muted picking, vibrato bar work, etc."
—Screamin’ Lord Duff—Music Connection mag

"… an astonishing collection of surf-style instrumentals… Johnson is a magnificent player, with a touch like Robert Quine’s or Jody Harris’s, the muscle of Dick Dale, the depth of John Fahey… It’s not what he says but how he says it that leaves a lasting impression… Unusual and potent."
— David McGee—Record mag

"Brim full with rich guitar music with no gimmickery… delivers the goods in no uncertain fashion… no fuss, no mess, clarity is everything…"
—Davy Peckett - New Gandy Dancer mag (UK)

The Magnificat
Front Edge of Time
Before the Feast Time
Kingdom Come
Gird Thy Sword On
Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus
The Truth
Joyful Blues
La Tierra Santa
Escape to Reality
Living For Jesus
Pressing In
All Along the Watchtower
Don´t Be Too Proud To Be God´s Child
Dawn of a New Day´s Love
Looking Out My Window