Named after a radio show McDermott’s 2 Hours was formed in 1986 by Nick Burbridge. More than 30 years later Burbridge is the only surviving member from the original line up. This, their ninth album if my mathematics work, is described as ”not so much a final curtain as a mgnificent encore, sewrving as the last instalment of a magnificent career” in the press information preceeding the release. To emphasize the links between the group and the Levellers and the Oysterband there are members from those two groups present on Besieged. McDermott’s and the Levellers have a common past, making three albums together at the beginning of this millenium.
For those of not aquainted with neither Nick Burbridge nor McDermott’s 2 Hours the group is what might be called folk punk, with the same kind of energy as the aformentioned groups and the Pogues. They produce a wall of sound with thundering drums and hammering bass. But still you can hear Burbridge’s excellent vocals well and his diction makes it easy to catch the lyrics.
One of the real strong points for McDermott’s is the instrumental interludes in the songs. Short fiddle, accordion, flute and whistles provides variation and colour to the songs.
The songs are fairly uncomplicated. You may get the feeling that Burbridge’s main focus is on the lyrics. Not surprising since Nick Burbridge also is a writer of short stories, plays, poetry and a novel. Many of the songs centre around Anglo-Irish realtions, and sometimes you sense real events behind some of the lyrics.
Each of the 12 tracks stand well on its own, this is an album without fillers. But here are some of my special favourites.
”Erin Farewell” has a heavy 6/8-beat, a melody line that could have been a traditional song, haunting interludes and a lyric about a farming man leaving Ireland for London. A ong that could easily be a floor singers favourite.
”This Child” is one of those songs that seemed based on a true story. Another heavy track with screaming guitars, that would not sound out of place on an old Tin Lizzy-album. It has one of my favourite lines on the record, so tell me how gunning down an unarmed boy makes you some kind of man”. The cello interlude in the middle gives us a short pause before Burbridge comes back to spit his spiteful lyric.
”All That Fall” is a softer track, starting with just an acoustic guitar, bass and basic drumming. Then it slowly builds up, but keeping the softness throughout, with a hopeful line in the chorus. ”All that fall can rise”. The last bit, a coda to the song, is sung by Molly Burbridge.
Molly opens ”Crossed Lines”, another soft song, dominated by acoustic guitar.
”Tha Damned Man’s Polka” is one of the wildest tracks, with instrumental interludes sounding very much like coming from a ceilidh band. A prolonged bit of this, with some diddling as well comes at the end.
I could go through the record track by track, but just believe me, If you are looking for something powerful, with good singing and musicianship, variation, catching melody lines this could be for you. Highly enjoyable.
(On the Fiddle Recordings, 2019)