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National Health - Missing Pieces  CD (album) cover

MISSING PIECES

National Health

 

Canterbury Scene

3.65 | 51 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

This issue from one of the shadier label (in terms of questionable sound qualities of their legit issues) Voiceprint is rather unlike what I've been able to hear until now. In other words, this probably one of their better release in their catalogue not always spotless. Having finally agreed to let these pre-debut album recordings (demo sessions from 75 and radio sessions from 76) and some later after last album tidbits (winter 79), this becomes an essential NH would-be album.

Bookended with two sloppy and voluntarily stupid tracks, this collection of add pieces and bits is a very interesting one as we are given a sight of the group's halcyon formative days through unusual line-ups, most notably ex-Egg Mont Campbell's participation on bass (six of the tracks are penned by him) and his early exit due to a constantly delayed debut album. We also get to hear the group with both Miller and Lee on guitars as well as both Stewart and Gowen on keys on the same tracks. And even Steve Hillage dropped by for few string shaking in a radio session.

Vocally speaking, we still get some tracks that are ruined by the debatable voice of Amanda Parsons (she is definitely not my cup of tea, I much prefer Gaskin as far as Northettes are concerned), even though she's pretty good in the scatting of Zabaglione, especially just before the slight guitar string screw-up around the end of the track. Funnily enough, around the end of Clocks And Clouds, you can swear Dave Sinclair was passing by with his distorted Hammond organ from the Grey And Pink era, but this is Stewart in 76. Agrippa is actually probably my fave NH track and The Mind- Your-Backs Tango is not far behind. A little further down Gowen's Towplane & Glider track is also excellent, even if the sound is much perfectible. A bit lost on this album is Stewart and Gaskin's Starlight On Seaweed track, which dates from the 90's.

Even though the vast majority of this disc is nearing excellence (bar the odd glitch), as usual with Voiceprint, there are some flaws: why in the world did they not present the tracks in a chronological order is simply beyond me. And beside the questionable track succession is also the matter of the three tracks that might have been easily left out. But nevertheless, if you are a National Health fan, this album is more than likely indispensable for you,

Sean Trane | 3/5 |

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