A Country singer at heart, something which is immediately apparent in his clear tones, and once citing Hank Williams as his greatest influence, Johnny produced 17 Billboard Top/Hot 100 hits for Cadence from the time of his discovery at the Nashville Pet Milk talent show in 1958 to late 1963.
Three of those releases, Poetry In Motion (# 2 Hot 100/# 6 R&B), It Keeps Right On A-Hurtin' (# 3 Hot 100/# 4 Country/# 6 R&B in summer 1962), and Send Me The Pillow You Dream On (# 5 Adult Contemporary (AC)/# 11 Country/# 17 Hot 100 in the fall of 1962), were major cross-over hits. Another four made both the Pop and AC charts: I Can't Help It (If I'm Still In Love With You) - # 8 AC/# 24 Hot 100 in late 1962); Out Of My Mind (# 11 AC/# 24 Hot 100 in April 1963); You Can Never Stop Me Loving You (# 4 AC/# 18 Hot 100 in late summer 1963); and Funny How Time Slips Away (# 16 AC/# 50 Hot 100 on November 1963).
After switching to MGM, he would add nine Hot 100 hits, four of which also made the AC charts, and two that only made the Country charts, and this collection, brings together eight of them. But don't be fooled when you see It Keeps Right On A-Hurtin' at track 24. This version was re-done in 1967 for an MGM LP and is not the 1962 Cadence original.
The volume begins with his first MGM hit, 1963's Talk Back Trembling Lips [# 6 AC/# 7 Hot 100 in December 1963/January 1964]. From 1964 there are four hits: Worried Guy [# 37 Hot 100 in March - shown erroneously in the track listings as "I'm A Worried Guy"], as well as the b-side Please Don't Go Away, which was a Hot 100 "bubble under" at # 112; I Rise, I Fall [# 36 Hot 100 in May]; Worry [# 5 AC/# 45 Hot 100 in August] and its B-side Sufferin' From A Heartache; She Understands Me [# 4 AC/# 31 Hot 100 in December] and done two years later by Bobby Vinton as Dum-De-Da.
Of his four 1965 MGM single hits, only two are included, which is one of the things that bothered me about this collection. They are: Angel [# 51 Hot 100 from the film Those Calloways]; and Heartaches By The Number [# 4 AC/# 35 Hot 100 in September]. Missing are: Then I'll Count Again [# 86 Hot 100 in June, and Our World [# 70 Hot 100 in December], but they do included the B-side of the latter, (Wait 'Til You See) My Gidget. That's the second things that annoys me. Why exclude a bona fide hit and instead insert an uncharted flipside? Why not both and omit an LP cut like Danke Schoen, which Wayne Newton did better anyway?
After blanks in 1966, Johnny returned in 1967 with the Country hit You're The Reason [# 48 and included at track 30] and again in 1968 with I Can Spot A Cheater [# 63]. That's NOT included, however, but the 1967 LP re-make of It Keeps Right On A-Hurtin', mentioned above, was released as the B-side. The MGM omission is the third fault I find with this collection. For the record, Johnny had two more low Country charters after that, Toy Hearts for United Artists in 1977 which reached # 99, and Lay Back [In The Arms Of Someone] for Reward, a # 91 in 1984.
There are six pages of liner notes written in 1995 by Rob Finnis (don't miss his notes in the excellent series The Golden Age Of American Rock 'n' Roll) along with several nice photos, and a complete discography of the contents on the back cover. The sound quality (always the case with Ace of London) is excellent. All of which should add up to 5 stars: except, with those missing MGM hits in a set titled "The Best Of The MGM Years" there is no way I can go higher than 4.