I’m certainly not qualified to discuss Bill Horton’s highly productive spell as the lead singer of doo wop group the Silhouettes – even though I do like “I’m Lonely” and “I Sold My Heart To The Junkman” – but I am well aware that “Get A Job” sold at least one million discs and maybe up to two million in 1958. But there is a wealth of detail on the subject here.
But I do want to give some well-deserved attention to the soul sides that Horton recorded after the Silhouettes split up. He returned home to Philly and recorded sessions for studio owner Frank Virtue with a little group of local friends of his whom he called the Dawns, two sides of which appeared on the tiny Lawn label. Both Shadow and Like To See You In The Mood are fine ballads, beautifully led by Horton’s rich baritone. You’d expect there to be more than a touch of doo wop to the arrangement but Horton’s expressive tone is very soulful. Perhaps Shadow just takes the honours thanks to the fuller arrangement – you can’t beat a good horn section in my view.
Horton’s second and last solo 45 may well have been recorded some years before its release date of 1966 but in any case No One Can Take Your Place is a fine piece of deep soul balladry. Horton is quite majestic over a classic 12/8 tempo, lovely guitar arpeggio, climbing horns and an overdubbed girl chorus. Check out the way he cuts loose towards the run out groove – lovely. Neither of these 45s sold anything at all sadly, thanks to zero promotion or interest from the labels concerned and Bill retired from music around the end of the decade. But he was coaxed back to music as the Silhouettes reformed at the end of the 70s and they continued to sing right up to the 90s. Bill sadly passed on in 1995 but wouldn’t it have been great if his talent for soul singing could have resulted in a few more recordings in that genre.