Here we have another country star that tragically died before his time. Like Patsy Cline and Hank Williams and you can also add Buddy Holly, Gram Parsons to the list) he was just hitting his stride when his life was taken in a fatal car crash in 1960.
As a budding performer Horton was actually taken under the wing of Hank when they were both playing on Shreveport's Louisiana Hayride. Hence it is not surprisingly his singing style on occasions contain hints of a Williams (as on the likes of ‘Two Red Lips And Warm Red Wine’, ‘Lost Highway’ that Hank himself covered etc) but not to the degree it detracts from his own unique style. A diverse set of songs ranging from ships to trains, war, honky-tonks, a truckin’ song, western and rural life and calypso influenced fare even plus historic-based material of the American Indian are covered.
Through his previous profession Johnny was tagged as The Singing Fisherman. While ‘The Battle Of New Orleans’ was his biggest his debut chart hit of 1956 and one Dwight Yoakam recorded, ‘Honky Tonk Man’ from his time on Columbia is amazingly not featured. In way of compensation there is a parcel of banjo-aided songs of a Civil War theme and a few concerning the Gold Rush era plus, a few from the American war of independence. Infectious and entertaining as in ‘Joe’s Been A Getting’ There’, ‘When It’s Springtime In Alaska (It’s Forty Below)’, a jaunty ‘Young Abe Lincoln’ and with great gusto ‘Sinking Of The Reuben James’ (w/ The Almanac Singers) and ‘Sink The Bismark’ it was plain to see Horton loved his music.
Among others of interest you have ‘The Child’s Side Of Life’ (another version of the famed ‘Wild Side Of Life’), ‘Cherokee Boogie’ that was later covered by BR5-49. It isn’t the only occasion where you can detect influences taken up by the popular 1990s-2000s honky tonk revivalists. All in all this is a treat for country fans of the traditional side of the music and there is enough there to tempt those drawn to rockabilly too!
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