Monday, 6 August 2018

The Johnstons - Bitter Green / Colours Of The Dawn / If I Sang My Song


(This review first appeared in issue #74 of Shindig! magazine.)

BGO 2CD

Britain may have had the Watersons, ISB and Pentangle but in Ireland The Johnstons were one of the top acts of the '60s folk revival, and the group in which Paul Brady first came to national prominence. Their final three studio albums are compiled here along with a raft of bonus tracks from singles and extended plays.

Listened to chronologically the traditional and contemporary folk covers give way to more satisfying baroque material with Brady's maturing songwriting yielding its best fruits on the final LP If I Sang My Song by which time the group had become a duo, with only Brady and Adrienne Johnston remaining. Of particular interest to Shindiggers is 'Continental Trailways Bus', a hippy trail backpacker's anthem, the sitar-strewn version of 'Jesus Was A Carpenter' and the introspective 'December Windows'. Also noteworthy is the superb reading of 'Border Child', sadly still as poignant and relevant today as it was in 1972.