August 30, 1982 12:00 PM

Hoyt Axton

Axton has some of the same roly-poly, good-old-boy appeal as Rogers. But his music doesn’t have the same sweet vulnerability. He now records on his own Hendersonville, Tenn.-based Jeremiah Records—which has less to do with the malcontent biblical prophet than Axton’s hit tune, Joy to the World (“Jeremiah was a bullfrog…”). His publicity agent is his mother, Mae Boren Axton, co-writer of the Presley hit Heartbreak Hotel. In addition to the title tune, a 1943 hit for Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters, the LP includes Cole Porter’s Don’t Fence Me In, Johnny Cash’s I Walk the Line, Joni Mitchell’s He Played Real Good for Free and three Axton originals. One, James Dean and the Junkman, is a nice rough-and-tumble lament (“James Dean knew he was flyin’ too low/He was bound for glory and he had to go”), but Fearless the Wonder Dog sounds like a Tom T. Hall reject. Axton’s growly singing may not please everyone, but it is surprisingly effective on Mark Dawson’s quietly moving Warm Storms and Wild Flowers.

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