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Release Info: JOHNNY TILLOTSON - IT KEEPS RIGHT ON A-HURTIN' (CADENCE 1962) JVC K2 HD mastering cardboard sleeve + 9 bonus
Tillotson recorded his most successful self-written song, "It Keeps Right on a-Hurtin'," inspired by the terminal illness of his father. The song was given an overtly country arrangement, although Tillotson, as usual, sang it with his unaccented enunciation, without a hint of a country twang. Nevertheless, it became his first country chart hit, peaking at number four, while getting to number three in the pop chart (and even making number six in the R&B chart). And it earned him his first Grammy nomination, for Best Country & Western Recording. It also went on to become a much-covered country-pop standard, recorded by Elvis Presley and by Billy Joe Royal, whose version was a Top 20 country hit in 1988, as well as, by Tillotson's count, over 100 others, among them Bobby Darin, Sonny James, Hank Locklin, Dean Martin, Boots Randolph, Conway Twitty, Slim Whitman, and the Wilburn Brothers. By the time it was peaking in the charts in the spring of 1962, Tillotson was serving a six-month stint of active duty in the Army, having enlisted in the National Guard to satisfy his military obligation. But he was given weekend furloughs to allow him to continue to record, and he used them to cut his first LP of new recordings (following the 1961 hits collection Johnny Tillotson's Best), also called It Keeps Right on a-Hurtin'. Released in June 1962, the disc, a Top Ten hit, found Tillotson covering a series of country standards, and Cadence proceeded to dole many of them out as singles over the rest of the year: a cover of Hank Locklin's "Send Me the Pillow You Dream On" made the pop and country Top 20 and the Top Ten of the easy listening chart, and a cover of Hank Williams' "I Can't Help It (If I'm Still in Love with You)" (backed by another Williams standard, "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry") made the pop Top 40 and the easy listening Top Ten.
When Tillotson returned to recording in early 1963, his new self-written single, "Out of My Mind," was another country-style ballad, although it did not reach the country charts and peaked at number 24 on the Hot 100 in April. "You Can Never Stop Me Loving You," which followed July, was more of a pop song, and it returned Tillotson to the Top 20. (Its B-side, "Judy, Judy, Judy," which Tillotson co-wrote with Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, was featured in the singer's film debut, the B-picture Just for Fun, which opened in June.)
Although he had renewed his contract with Cadence for an additional three years in April 1961, Tillotson was released from his obligation as the label wound down in 1963; it went out of business in 1964...
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