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The Fight Game (Re-mastered)

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Album Review

Given the social relevance of the other radio ballads produced by Ewan MacColl, Charles Parker, and Peggy Seeger, on the surface The Fight Game seems as if it could be lightweight and indulgent. In point of fact, it proves to be a very weighty topic indeed, drawing on comments from fighters, trainers, and managers to offer a comprehensive portrait of a sport where the boxers themselves are simply people using the only skill they possess to escape the trap of poverty — a fact true for so many sportsmen across the globe (as one of the participants says, "Have you ever seen a millionaire's son in the ring?"). But they're exploited at every turn — the litany of a manager taking 20 percent of a fighter's earnings is repeated often. Examining why boys become boxers — often through the encouragement of fathers who would beat them if they didn't fight back or through a laissez faire playground culture at school — to the way they train, it's engrossing, the mix of music and soundbites forming a complete documentary mosaic. It all inevitably culminates in the weighing-in, the anticipation and nerves in the dressing room, and the big fight itself, which ends in either victory or blinding defeat. It's a place without a middle ground, with room only for winners and losers. For all the heartbreak, however, and the real riches only going to a rare few, those who'd been in the fight game looked back on it fondly. These aren't the heavyweight champions, the famous names, either. They're the lowly men who toiled on bills around Britain on a Friday night, picking up income from bouts as an alternative to working in a factory or going to prison, and they're treated here with respect and sympathy. The Fight Game (whose musical theme comes from the use of trumpets throughout) shines a light on something not often seen, the life and times of the barely professional boxer, and in doing so it makes a strong statement about society and the culture of channeled violence and spectator sports. Call it heavyweight, in the very best sense of the word.


Born: 25 January 1915 in Salford, England

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

Ewan MacColl may well have been the most influential person in the British folk song revival. From his early manhood until his death in 1989, he remained passionately committed to folk, though not exclusively; he was also a poet, playwright, organizer, activist, songwriter, husband, and father. MacColl was born James Henry Miller in Salford, England in 1915. His father was a lowland man who spoke Scots English, his mother a highlander who spoke Gaelic. Both of his parents were singers. MacColl left...
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The Fight Game (Re-mastered), Ewan MacColl
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