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National Health - Playtime CD (album) cover


National Health


Canterbury Scene

3.72 | 62 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Yes, this album DOES sometimes sound like a jam session, but I feel that we're privileged to listen in!

I am not going to join the 'Dave Stewart vs. Alan Gowen' debate; I love and admire the way Stewart played keyboards with National Health and Bruford, but Gowen undeniably has plenty of charm as well. His minimoog solos must be among the most delightful ever performed on that instrument, equalling (or even surpassing) the things George Duke and Eddie Jobson did with Zappa.

It's also great to hear Phil Miller spreading out. I loved his late Seventies guitar sound and felt disappointed when I bought a CD of his band In Cahoots a few years ago, only to notice he now sounds far more conventional. Do you love those HATFIELD and HEALTH classics, and would you like to hear more of the 'real' Phil? Then this might be just the album for you.

As other reviewers have said, interplay between all the band members is great, and Pip Pyle in particular turns out to be a real star. Because of the improvisatory character of certain passages, the band sometimes remind me of Brand X rather than the old Health. Some listeners may be disappointed that studio favourites are getting a fairly rough treatment, but it all comes with greater spontaneity. Also, the sound quality is not exactly top-drawer, but that does not bother me when I play the album through speakers instead of headphones.

Conclusion: excellent album, essential to Canterbury freaks, wish there were more bands playing this sort of music today!

fuxi | 4/5 |


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