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National Health - National Health CD (album) cover


National Health


Canterbury Scene

4.12 | 383 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Digging into DEEP PROG

If you're into prog, you have to enjoy some music that is just a bit out there. You become familiar with aural flavors that are at best confusing and at worst painful to most ears. The typical progression of increasingly difficult music from the 70's may finds one of it's deepest nooks with the band National Health. I came to this band via the earlier, more accessible Canterbury supergroup Khan. Based on that album primarily, of all the massively talented prog keyboard players, Dave Stewart is my favorite. National Health is his baby and though this album has its warts, it is a delight for long time prog lovers such as me.

The style of this music is jazz fusion to be sure. However, the tracks contain an enormous amount of composed lines and instrumental interplay rather than the massive improvisation one normally associates with the genre. There are solo sections, but this is more a prog- fusion than anything really jazzy at heart. At the same time, these tracks are instrumental explorations rather than "songs" as such. I don't hear strong melodic themes or purposeful dramatic staging to create a story. This is music for music sake's alone. A heady music that unlike some of the technical music that came after, still had groove and feel.

Amanda Parsons' vocals are fine but add an aloof and light mood that I'm not sure benefits the ensemble. This style is certainly typical of the more muzak-y realms that jazz fusion was to enter in the following years, and which claimed Stewart as an especially bloody casualty. Phil Miller's guitar blends with Stewart's key ideas perfectally, but he doesn't really add much of his own personality to the band. Neil Murray's bass playing is quite impressive, taking a prominent place in the busy mix with a nice blend of edge and finesse. Pip Pyle, like Miller, plays well, but doesn't inject much of himself. Clearly, this is Stewart's show.

Unlike most Canterbury fans, I prefer National Health to Hatfield, and I like both of Health's records on about equal footing. Both NH albums are must have works for Dave Stewart devotees. A little too meandering and niche for masterpiece status.

Negoba | 4/5 |


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