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Johnny Horton

The Spectacular Johnny Horton – 2000 (Sony Legacy)

Reviewed by Jon Johnson

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CDs by Johnny Horton

This reissue of Johnny Horton's 1959 album (part of Sony's American Milestones series) finds the late singer in a transitional phase between his rockabilly-influenced recordings of the '56-'59 period and the historical sagas that accounted for most of his hits between 1958 and his November 1960 death.

And a fine album it is, too, including superb versions of Leon Payne's "Lost Highway" (a 1949 hit for Hank Williams, whose widow, Billie Jean Williams, married Horton in 1953), Hank Snow's "The Golden Rocket," and Moon Mullican's "Cherokee Boogie." Horton's own "The First Train Headin' South" is also a standout; one of Horton's finest rockers and one that's strangely obscure these days. As capable (and underrated nowadays) as Horton was with rockabilly material, though, this notably contained two of Horton's biggest hits in "When It's Springtime in Alaska (It's Forty Below)" and "The Battle of New Orleans."

In addition, the reissue includes three additional tracks, including 1958's lustful number 8 hit "All Grown Up" and a version of "The Battle of New Orleans" recorded for the British market, giving an account of the battle from the British perspective. Talk about covering all the angles!