10 Songs, 44 Minutes

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About McDermott's 2 Hours

Though they only released one album and dissolved in the late 80s, this Brighton, Sussex, England band’s single recording, The Enemy Within, remains much prized among folk fans and has been widely bootlegged. An indicator of the esteem in which it is held was confirmed when the Levellers included one of its tracks, ‘Dirty Davey’, as the only non-original composition on Levelling The Land. The song, born in a pub session in Brighton, relayed the true story of an acquaintance who hanged himself while in police custody. The Levellers’ manager, Phil Nelson, had originally issued The Enemy Within on his Hag label prior to his main charges signing to Musidisc Records. Indeed, the principal songwriter of McDermott’s Two Hours, Nick Burbridge, claims to have taught Mark Chadwick the guitar. His main collaborator was Tim O’Leary (fiddle; the brother of Christy O’Leary of Boys Of The Lough). Their name was taken from Tommy McDermott, who became a disc jockey for two hours on Radio Free Derry in the late 60s during the riots, playing the Incredible String Band and urging everyone to love one another before he was dragged out. The album was completed in testing circumstances. ‘(It) was recorded in a tiny basement called Bloomsbury Studios over three days, and mixed in two. We pressed a thousand and they all went.’ Yet as Burbridge later confessed, McDermott’s Two Hours never possessed the same sense of defiance as either the man who inspired their name or their peers the Levellers, committed to playing nearly 300 gigs a year. The group broke up after just two years of existence in 1991 after an appearance at the Reading Festival. Burbridge is also a published playwright, having written three plays: the typically politicised War Without Honour with ex-intelligence officer Fred Holroyd concerning the British ‘shoot to kill’ policy in Ireland, Vermin and Dirty Tricks. Before the demise of McDermott’s Two Hours he was signed to a publishing contract by Rykodisc and has continued to write songs, though he is still reluctant to tour again.

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