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National Health - Playtime CD (album) cover


National Health


Canterbury Scene

3.73 | 69 ratings

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4 stars Disagreements over the direction in which to take National Health led to Dave Stewart leaving the band, but he was still on amicable terms with his former bandmates, enough so to help schedule a small tour of the United States in 1979 - part of which is captured on this recording. Alan Gowen was recruited to join Miller, Greaves, and Pyle on tour - and the result is a blistering tour de force of high energy Canterbury/fusion jams that times will touch upon a free jazz mentality. Highlights for me are the Gowen compositions such as Flanagan's People and Playtime, but of course the performances of tracks from Queues such as Dreams Wide Awake and Squarer for Maud are also outstanding. This is not the National Health to be found on the first two studio albums; indeed, on the US tour they warned audiences that those hoping to hear Tenemos Roads would be sorely disappointed. Sound quality at times can be a bit lacking, but never really factors into the enjoyment of the record. Highly recommended for fans of National Health and other Alan Gowen material - but read the other reviews, if what appeals to you of National Health's music is Stewart's structured, coherent compositional approach vs. Gowen's jazzy stylings (viz. Brujo), proceed with caution. Newcomers are best served starting with the studio work. 4.5 stars for a wonderful live snapshot of some of the greatest of the Canterbury musicians lighting it up.
Padraic | 4/5 |


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