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National Health - D.S. Al Coda CD (album) cover


National Health


Canterbury Scene

3.33 | 82 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars A musical epitaph for founding member Alan Gowen, who died of leukemia in 1983. Appropriately, this is the most jazz-fusion sounding of all the NH albums; Gowen's composing style was much more rooted in jazz than Stewart's was. The very 1983 production values hamper this a bit, mainly Pip Pyle's insistence upon using then-trendy electronic Simmons drum pads. In the interim, Stewart had tasted the fruits of pop music success (via the cover of "It's My Party" he did with musical/life partner Barbara Gaskin, a #1 hit in the UK in 1981), switching over almost entirely to synthesizers in the process. This is actually the album's most intriguing component, as he uses the different synthesizer tones to add various colours to the music. He even plays synth like he played organ at times (i.e.: like an enraged berserker), as on the striking "I Feel A Night Coming On".

A couple of these tunes ("T.N.T.F.X.", "Arriving Twice") had previously turned up on Gilgamesh albums, but most of these make their recorded debut here. One of the album's most eye-popping moments is actually "Shining Water", done in a largo triple meter for most of its length. The musicians show their skill for being able to hold it together and not drag even at such a slow tempo, always maintaining the intensity.

So, should you buy? If you're a serious Canterbury conoisseur, you probably already have this. If not, there's little I can say that will make you want it. For all the dated 1983 production techniques, the intent shines through quite well, and it serves as a fitting tribute for a talent that was taken from us too soon.

Progbear | 3/5 |


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