When Hank Williams died in 1953, Ray Price--then a burgeoning country-music star--was considered by many to be Williams's true successor. After all, Price sang a lot like Williams and hired many of the Drifting Cowboys (Williams's own band) to back him up. However, Price's straight-up honky-tonk period was short lived. As the 1960s dawned, Price gradually made the transition from gritty barroom music to pop-oriented, or "countrypolitan," ballad singing.
Nonetheless, IN A HONKY TONK MOOD captures Price's early period well. The album presents Price crooning about love's loss, lonely nights, and hard-tested faith. The latter is best epitomized by "(There'll Be) Peace in the Valley" and "The Old Rugged Cross," both of which feature the Jordanaires, a popular vocal group of the era, best known for their work with Elvis Presley. Other songs such as the upbeat "Steel Guitar Jubilee" and "Back Up and Push" feature the instrumental talents of the now-legendary Cherokee Cowboys.