The Johnstons' original line-up comprised Adrienne, Luci and Michael Johnston from Slane in County Meath's Boyne Valley. The family trio were regulars on the Dublin folk circuit and in 1966 they scored a Number 1 success in the Irish charts with Ewan MacColl's "The Travelling People". They were joined in the group by Mick Moloney from Castletroy, County Limerick and, when Michael Johnston left, by Paul Brady from Strabane.
They signed for Transatlantic in 1968 and, between then and 1972, produced seven albums (including a " Sampler" compilation) and six singles. Over these years they moved from their folk beginnings to a blend of traditional and contemporary material which drew on the songwriting skills of the best composers of the era. By the time " If I Sang My Song" was released in 1972 they had completed the transition and were recording purely original material written by the group and their producer Chris McCloud.
In late 1969, after their first three Transatlantic albums, Luci left the line-up to return to Ireland and The Johnstons continued as a trio. In 1971, after touring America, Mick Moloney left and their last album was recorded as a duo comprising Adrienne and Paul. In 1974 the group went their separate ways and, after one solo album, Adrienne left the music business.
After the demise of The Johnstons, Paul returned to his traditional roots and joined Planxty until it broke up in 1975. He released his first solo album "Welcome Here Kind Stranger" in 1978 and continued to sing folk and traditional material until 1980 when he decided to concentrate on writing his own songs. His first solo contemporary album "Hard Station" came out in 1981 and since then he has released another four studio albums, a live album and a compilation of solo tracks. Paul's songwriting skills were evident during his time with The Johnstons and his reputation as a singer/songwriter has grown steadily over the years — his songs have been recorded by artists such as Dave Edmunds, Santana, Tina Turner and Bonnie Raitt. His most recent albums are "Trick Or Treat" (Released: 1991) and the compilation "Songs And Crazy Dreams" (Released: 1992).
Mick Moloney is in America and is actively involved in recording and producing Irish Music. He lectures in Folklore and Irish Studies at many establishments including the University of Pennsylvania and has become the acknowledged driving force behind the great revival of traditional Irish music in the USA. In 1977 he formed ' The Green Fields of America' ensembles of Irish musicians, singers and dancers who tour regularly throughout the USA bringing traditional Irish music and dance to the American hinterland. Mick is renowned throughout the USA for his skills as a tenor banjo and mandolin player and his musical career has included hosting radio programmes and appearing as a performer on hundreds of television shows.
The Johnstons never achieved the commercial success they deserved but they were at the forefront of the Irish folk music revival in the 1960s before bringing their style of interpretation and arrangement of traditional Irish songs to a wider audience outside Ireland. For this reason alone their place in music history is assured. During their time with Transatlantic Records they produced some excellent traditional and contemporary music and always had a strong following. The spirit of The Johnstons continues in the music of Paul Brady and Mick Moloney and the best of their Transatlantic years is to be found on this compact disc — a fitting tribute to a very talented group.
IAN S. BROADFOOT, INVERNESS, SEPTEMBER 1992