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THE TABS "Good Medicine" Attitude Records TABSCD002

The band comprises: Garry Blakeley on fiddle and vocals; Roger Flack on electric and acoustic guitars and vocals; Dave Pellet also on guitars plus bouzouki; Phil Flack on drums/percussion; and Nick Cooper on electric bass, and between them they produce a really tight funky sound. They are firmly committed to the heavy bass and drums underpinning that will be familiar to folk-rock devotees, but they just steer clear of letting it become heavy-handed.

The Tabs nail their colours to the mast on the opening track where a strong rock intro leads surprisingly into "Byker Hill", a gloriously irreverent bash which I'm not sure is an improvement, but it's certainly a lot of fun! The others songs on the CD are all written by either Roger or Garry and tend to be rather more pensive, and whilst they basically do a workmanlike job the lyrics are not particularly inspired. However, they are lifted by some fine accompaniments, and it really is on the tune sets (which account for just over half the album) that "Good Medicine" comes alive. And there are some fine tunes in there - both traditional and self-penned.

The band give what they term "the Tabs treatment" to the traditional tunes which although somewhat robust, it seems to work reasonably well, and at least they sound to be enjoying what they are doing. My preference though was for the more sensitive nature of some of the fiddle tunes - "Grants Air" written by Roger and played by Garry is a real belter, and showcases the superb playing of this extremely talented fiddler. He is also on fine form with the "Collington Wood/Eddy's Delight" set, of which he wrote the second tune.

Overall, The Tabs produce a sound which is a lot more rock than folk. Bursts of impressive fiddle runs, blasts of electric guitar riffs, and some good solid bass work teamed with excellent drumming holding it all together. You pays yer money and you takes yer chance. Give it a whirl, and play it loud - it'll shake the dust out of your speaker cones for sure!

Mel Howley

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This album was reviewed in Issue 28 of The Living Tradition magazine.