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National Health - National Health CD (album) cover


National Health


Canterbury Scene

4.12 | 383 ratings

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The Quiet One
Prog Reviewer
5 stars National(UK) Jazz Rock

While the United States is remembered for their Jazz Rock during the 70's, with artists and bands such as Return to Forever, Frank Zappa, Miles Davis, Weather Report and the like, in which the majority of them had quite a big success; England will always be remembered for their Prog Rock groups during the 70's. But that's actually inaccurate, since both countries actually had equal quality and quantity of both genres. Having said that and this being a review of British band, National Health, you've probably figured out that this band is one of those Jazz Rock groups from England that while equally great as those U.S. jazz rock bands, they never had equal success nor the recognition they deserved.

National Health's debut was compromised by Hatfield & The North members, organ maestro, Dave Stewart, drummer, Pip Pyle, and guitarist, Phil Miller, Gilgamesh's synth player, Alan Gowen, and Colosseum II's bass player, Neil Murray.

It starts with Tenemos Roads. The elegancy of the wind instruments at the very beginning clearly shows that this band knew what they're doing. Dave Stewart enters with his mean- sounding, yet delicate organ and after that, it's history. The song travels through outstanding show-off's, up-lifting melodies and beauty, the latter being courtesy of Amanda Parsons' magnificent vocals.

Brujo continues with the delicacy in which this time Amanda uses her vocals as an additonal instrument. However, as time goes by, the tune starts to transform gently into a jazz rock fest featuring solos by Alan, Dave and Phil, with Murray and Pyle giving a splendid back-up.

Borogoves (excerpt from part 2) opens with a nice and up-lifting melody, made by the woodwinds instruments, which doesn't last long. Dave starts playing very gently and Neil Murray has the chance to shine with his bass, though it's only a matter of time until Phil abruptly appears and changes the tranquil tempo completely to a groovy one and Phil sets loose with his guitar.

Borogoves (part 1) opens with the same up-lifting melody that opened the previous tune, though in a symphonic manner with synths and organ. However, afterwards the band just seems to ramble, some good ideas here and there, but not concise at all. At times it reminds you of Gentle Giant's quirkiness, but overall Borogoves (part 1) is an aimless tune.

Elephants ends the album quite strongly, with the first half being pretty dark and complex with some great guitar and synth work, while the second half features the opening tune, Tenemos Roads, reprised.

Definitely one of the most complex and sophisticated bands from the Canterbury Scene, and their debut is no doubt a masterpiece of Jazz Rock which I highly recommend to any serious Jazz Rock/Fusion fan alongside their follow-up, Of Queues & Cures. However, if you're not fond of Jazz Rock/Fusion at all and want to check the Canterbury Scene, either Caravan or Khan's sole album are better fits.

The Quiet One | 5/5 |


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