The now long running musical merger of McDermott’s 2 Hours, one of the forefathers of the whole Celtic-punk scene and their prodigy The Levellers has been joined by UK folk rock institution Oysterband on Nick Burbridge’s swansong for McDermott’s 2 Hours, Besieged.
If your not familiar with the work of singer, songwriter, playwright & poet Nick Burbridge, he is one of the finest Anglo-Irish songwriters and lyricists, a Beckett or Kavanagh to MacGowan’s Behan or even a Springsteen in his lyrical imaginary of the ordinary or downtrodden.
I’ve had a copy of Besieged since 2017, I listened continual to it though 2018 as I waited to be given the ok to review the advance copy. I can say it truly that Besieged is a great album, brilliantly crafted songs and lyrics and beautifully produced. An album that has passed the test of 12 months. The only question is Besieged the best album of 2017, 2018 or 2019?
While M2H have had quite a storied history dating back into the eighties, in all honesty I had never heard of them until my trusty postman pushed a copy of their most recent collaboration (Disorder) with their old friends The Levellers through the Shite’n’Onions mail box. I promptly (honest) review it for S’n’O and posted a good review – though my thoughts being these guys are real good but not really my cuppa. Nick Burbridge, vocals, guitar and songwriter for M2H was good enough to forward a couple more McDermott’s CDs (The 1986 debut and their first paring with The Levellers, 2000’s World Turned Upside Down) to listen to – which I did, but moved on quickly.
Most recently I reviewed McDermott’s latest release, a live CD, and was struck by just how good M2H really are and so after repeated plays of the likes of “Laying the Sligo Maid” & “Harry Brewer” I went back to listen to them on the studio version and was total and utterly blown away by how good M2H are and especially on World Turned Upside Down – It’s not an immediate album (and that’s my excuse for missing it on the first pass) but give it a chance because it worth it – possible one of the best Folk-Rock (with a heavy Irish twist) CDs ever made in my book and certainly one of the best I’ve every heard. The songwriting is superb, as too is the playing and the production. The aforementioned “Laying the Sligo Maid” & “Harry Brewer” (which compares to The Green Fields of France as an anti-war classic or in this case anti-war but if your going to fight do it for something you believe in) are must hears along with the Spanish flavored “La Passionaria” which is the song The Pogues were trying so hard to write on Hell’s Ditch.
World Turned Upside Down will be very much towards the top of my best CD’s of the year list – 2000 release or not
Brighton based McDermotts Two Hours are 80’s UK folk rock legends and also one of the most influential bands on the scene – so influential infact that The Levellers are constantly tipping their hats collectively in McDermotts direction. During the 90’s the band went on hiatus but in 2000 Levellers bass player Jeremy Cunningham persuaded McDermott’s signer Nick Burbridge to start recording again under the McDermotts Two Hours moniker. Joining Nick was fellow McDermott, fiddler Tim O’Leary and Levellers, Jeremy Cunningham and Charlie Heather (drums).
Disorder is the third collaborative with members of The Levellers (though the first I’ve heard) and it’s a very polished and passionate effort, the music is solid Celtic influenced folk-rock with a distinctly English (I don’t meant that in a bad way at all, The Levellers defined the English folk-rock sound and McDermotts defined the sound of The Levellers) fokie feel. The lyrics are very political yet never preachy though always thought provoking. Good stuff