Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Give a Damn / Bitter Green
Genres: Folk, World Music, Pop, Rock
The Johnstons' Pop Offerings
Randall E. Adams | Los Angeles, CA United States | 12/27/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The Johnstons must have been mighty busy in 1968 and 1969. According to the brief liner notes on this release, "Give a Damn" was their 2d LP on Transatlantic Records and "Bitter Green" was their 4th. This conflicts a bit with the other reissue of their Transatlantic Records releases that identifies "The Barley Corn" as their 2d album. All of these albums were completed by the end of 1969.If you've only heard the reissue of "The Johnstons" and "The Barley Corn," you will probably be disappointed with the pair of albums on this CD. Unlike the other two, the albums here include mostly modern songs written by the likes of Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, Leonard Cohen, Ewan McColl and even Jacques Brel. The arrangements are often quite florid, with strings, woodwinds and drums. This is definitely NOT the purist Celtic or Irish folk that fills "The Johnstons" and "The Barley Corn." For this reason, I can't give this release a five star rating. My three star is really more of a three-and-a-half star. Having said the above, their version of "Both Sides Now" is a nice light pop/folk version that feels like something the Seekers might have done (complete with prominent acoustic 12 string guitar). Joni Mitchell's less well known "Urge for Going" is given a more traditional Johnstons sound. The title song "Give a Damn" is a good jazz-inflected social consciousness number that survives its bombastic horns and timpani arrangement fairly well. Ewan McColl's "Jesus Was a Carpenter" is a fine rousing piece of modern think/folk and is done in thoroughly Johnstons style spiced with a very appropriate-sounding sitar. I suspect that most listeners will prefer the set from "Bitter Green" which includes a sprinkling of traditionals and less excessive arrangements. The worst moments of "Give a Damn" can be positively sappy.The sound is clean, but a little too bright and lacking a bit in bottom or warmth. The guitars lose a lot of their harmonic qualities because of this. It would have been a good idea to run this through an equalizer. In this respect, the release is similar to the reissue of "The Johnstons/The Barley Corn.""
How I Love The Johnstons
Kate Smart | Private | 07/26/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If I could get The Johnstons' first album ("The Travelling People") on CD, I would weep for joy. I would pay a thousand dollars. Anyway, if you aren't sure about whether to purchase this album, just click on "Lord Thomas and Fair Ellender" - one of the most haunting folk songs I've ever heard. I prefer their album "The Barleycorn" - it is gloriously Irish - and no one sang like Adrienne & Lucy Johnston. Their voices together were a husky, strong blend that make today's female folk singers sound anemic. (I cannot bear high, weak voices singing celtic music) In any case, anything by The Johnstons should be considered a collector's item.
Note: Amazon has given the wrong description for the songs on "The Barleycorn" - try Amazon.uk, or Amazon.ca instead.