The Pogues and Shane MacGowan may be the attention grabbers when it comes to fusing punk energy with traditional folk music but this album is a reminder that there is and always was plenty more where they came from.
'McDermott’s 2 Hours' emerged in 1986 in Brighton and took their name from Tommy McDermott's one-off DJ spot playing the Incredible String Band and preaching peace and love on Radio Free Derry during the Battle Of The Bogside in 1969.
Irish singer, songwriter, poet, playwright and front man, Nick Burbridge releases his final album with the band teaming up with peers and soul mates from The Levellers (bassist Jeremy Cunningham and guitarist Simon Friend) and Oysterband (Dil Davies and Al Scott). This is a friendly gathering of radical voices despite the fact that the cover is presented in the form of an epic boxing match ('fight of a lifetime').
It would be nice to report that the politically charged ballads of these artists have changed hearts and minds over the years. There's always space for committed rabble rousing but despite being mainstays of countless good cause festivals, The Levellers, who recently celebrated their 25th anniversary, never changed the world. On the contrary, the political landscape has lurched even further to the right.
Stirring and earnest as they are, it's hard then to hear these tunes as having much to say about the 21st century socio-political climate. "We shall overcome" is the rallying cry of The Last Mile yet it's a bitter irony that the track that follows is entitled Forlorn Hope.
In what seems to be the last installment of Burbridge's musical career, 'Besieged' is described as being "not so much a final curtain as a magnificent encore" although, whichever way you spin it, the album signifies a closing of a chapter.
Nick Burbridge's website