“The Johnstons [1968]” by The Johnstons - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1968Album Chart of the Decade: 1960s

TJR says

The Johnstons were an Irish close-harmony folk group, originally founded in the early 60s in Slane, County Meath, consisting of siblings Adrienne, Lucy and Michael Johnston. Building on home territory successes, they delivered their first proper long player (following on from a singles compilation) in May 1968. By this time they were: Adrienne Johnston (vocals), Lucy Johnston (vocals); Mick Moloney (vocals, banjo, mandolin) and Paul Brady (vocals, guitar, fiddle, mandolin). Although they were as comfortable with traditional or contemporary material, an LP of traditionals was decided upon for this release. The liner notes offer some good insight:

“Ireland is a country of miracles and one of the 20th century miracles that exists in Ireland today is that folk music is chart music. A large proportion of the singles that make the top 10 charts in Ireland are folk ballads. The Johnstons’ first ever record was a ballad, “The Travelling People” by Ewan MacColl which went straight to Number 1 in the Irish charts and was one of the best-selling singles in Irish record history. Since then The Johnstons have had three more hits and here now is their first LP. As with their previous recordings, they have remained faithful to the Irish ballads that brought them success. In three years they have become a highly polished professional and versatile group, full of vocal strength, instrumental virtuosity and interesting original harmony. They have a freshness and vitality that is rare, the more so when it is combined with an obvious strong commercial appeal. With these qualities, The Johnstons can claim comparison with the best folk groups in the world and seem sure to go on to international success. But they will do so because they have built on strong and splendid foundations — a great love and understanding of the best in Irish music.”

For all the material is good throughout, the album is dominated by the utterly phenomenal rendition of “The Lambs on the Green Hills”, led intensely by Adrienne. The liner notes tell us that it comes from Colm O'Lochlainns first collection of Irish songs and is related closely to the Scottish “I Once Loved A Lass” and countless other variants of the most familiar theme in folk music; the story of unrequited love. The performance from all is spine tingling – perfectly poised, with an intimate delicacy which could bring even the severest of brutes to tears. It’s surely one of the greatest moments in the entire history of recorded folk music. With this release, Transatlantic helped to serve a wee gem to the world.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [01:53] 5.6.png The Johnstons - They’ll Never Get Their Man (Traditional) Folk
A2 [02:13] 7.0.png The Johnstons - The Tunnel Tigers (Ewan MacColl) Folk
A3 [04:55] 6.6.png The Johnstons - Fhir A’ Bhata (Traditional) Folk
A4 [02:17] 5.5.png The Johnstons - O’Carolan’s Concerto (Turlough O’Carolan, Adrienne Johnston, Lucy Johnston, Mick Moloney, Paul Brady) Folk
A5 [02:35] 6.6.png The Johnstons - The Lark In The Morning (Traditional) Folk
A6 [03:10] 6.0.png The Johnstons - The Whistling Thief (Traditional) Folk
A7 [04:00] 7.3.png The Johnstons - The Rounding Of Cape Horn (Traditional) Folk
B1 [03:15] 6.4.png The Johnstons - The Dublin Jack Of All Trades (Traditional) Folk
B2 [02:04] 8.1.png The Johnstons - The Apprentice’s Song (Ian Campbell) Folk
B3 [01:43] 5.8.png The Johnstons - Caillerch An Airgid (Traditional) Folk
B4 [03:06] 5.3.png The Johnstons - Reels (Hand Me Down To The Tackle And Jenny’s Welcome To Charlie) (Traditional) Folk
B5 [03:25] 6.6.png The Johnstons - The Rambler From Clare (Traditional) Folk
B6 [04:54] 10.0.png The Johnstons - The Lambs On The Green Hills (Traditional) Folk
B7 [03:09] 7.0.png The Johnstons - The Frog’s Wedding (Traditional) Folk

© The Jukebox Rebel 2005-2020 All Rights Reserved