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OF QUEUES AND CURES

National Health

Canterbury Scene


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National Health Of Queues and Cures  album cover
4.22 | 254 ratings | 36 reviews | 46% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection


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Studio Album, released in 1978

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Bryden 2-step (for amphibians)Part 1 (8:52)
2. The collapso (6:16)
3. Squarer for Maud (11:30)
4. Dreams wide awake (8:48)
5. Binoculars (11:43)
6. Phlkatn (0:08)
7. The Bryden 2-step (for amphibians) Part 2 (5:31)

Total Time: 52:48

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- John Greaves / bass, piano innards (3), crooning (5)
- Phil Miller / guitar
- Pip Pyle / drums, percussion / hand claps (3)
- Dave Stewart / acoustic & electric pianos,
organ, Mini-Moog (3-4)

WITH:
- Selwyn Baptiste / steel drums (2)
- Rick Biddulph / bass on organ solo (4)
- Peter Blegvad / voice (3)
- Georgie Born / cellos (1-3-7)
- Jimmy Hastings / clarinets (3-5), flute (5)
- Phil Minton / trumpets (1-5-7)
- Paul Nieman / trombones (1-5-7)
- Keith Thompson / oboe (3-5)

Releases information

LP Charly Records Ltd. CRL 5010 (UK)

CD Decal CD LIK 70 (UK,1990), Victor Entertainment Japan VICP-70086 (Japan,2009)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Epignosis for the last updates
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Import
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Dreams Wide AwakeDreams Wide Awake
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NATIONAL HEALTH Of Queues and Cures ratings distribution


4.22
(254 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(46%)
46%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(36%)
36%
Good, but non-essential (15%)
15%
Collectors/fans only (3%)
3%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

NATIONAL HEALTH Of Queues and Cures reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by The Owl
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars I agree, this was NH's crowning achievment. A remarkable mix of hilarious absurdity and compositional brilliance in many shades.

How could you not love the Stravinsky meets Calypso ruminations of "Collapso" , the droll musings of "Binoculars" (the protaganist lamenting a person's hopeless addiction to TV), or the knotted Henry Cow-inspired brilliance of "Squarer For Maude"? Not to mention, Dave Stewart's utterly hilarious liner notes don't hurt either.

Great stuff!

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Send comments to The Owl (BETA) | Report this review (#5047) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Review by maani
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Founding Moderator
3 stars Being new to National Health, I am forced to take this album entirely on its own terms. Given those terms, I find it oxymoronically quite listenable and yet uncompelling. Certainly there is a great deal of creative composition and excellent musicianship. I particularly liked The Collapso, Squarer for Maud, and Dreams Wide Awake, all of which have lots of great prog bits, played with remarkable proficiency. And yet... Although some of these compositions have initially stated themes, the playing often goes so far adrift that when (or if...) the theme is restated at the end, it ends up being a "bookend" for a lot of largely directionless (if admittedly extremely proficient) playing. In addition, I have to agree with another reviewer that this music treads a fine line between prog-rock and "fusion noodling." In addition to Return to Forever, I hear a great deal of Bruford's early solo work - which just happened to come out the year before this, and also featured Dave Stewart on keyboards. That said, if you like your prog largely instrumental, played with great panache, but sometimes somewhat directionless, this is definitely a very listenable album.

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Send comments to maani (BETA) | Report this review (#5050) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, March 11, 2004

Review by Prognut
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars For me NATIONAL HEALTH was one of those bands discovered over the past several years; and after I had the opportunity of getting all their material. I have to say that all their work is superb and unique, no Bruford influence, actually Bill was their drummer for a while; as a matter of fact if memory serve me well he left around 1977 to form U.K. Here comes Pip who wrote one of my fav on this album "Binoculars". What I like the most about this album, is that this was a band effort. We have compositions of everybody, no concept here but, plain and simple music for the soul; jazzy or heavy at times will have you wondering from beginning to end. This is Canterbury prog at its finest, with complex compositions that will make your head spin and actually pay attention to the music. Mostly all the album is instrumental and with the exception of the solo drum, the shortest is around 5 minutes (about 54 minutes of music!!!). A fine discover after all this years. This is one of those bands that actually made the mark for themselves, rather than they being influenced by anybody. This album shows one of the finest composition of Dave "The Bryden" that complement clearly everything that showed on "National Health" first album with a use of organ, electric and acoustic piano that I personally never have found in nobody; and what can I say about Phil Miller guitar!! No comments here. If you decided to check out NATIONAL HEALTH, no regrets... Was a band of short duration that probably marked the end of the classical Canterbury style, at least this is my humble opinion. Highly recommended.

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Send comments to Prognut (BETA) | Report this review (#5052) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, April 03, 2004

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
4 stars 4.5 stars really!!!

If the first NH took a long time to materialize, their second album certainly didn't make itself long to appear, as it came out the same year as the debut. It is also a fairly different beast than its predecessor, even if only the departed brilliant Neil Murray is now replaced with ex-Henry Cow bassist John Greaves. Although it might appear a minor line-up change, it also opens the studio gates to a bunch of other ex-Cows to participate to the album's sessions. And this is where the difference appears: Phil Minton, Georgie Born, Keith Thompson and Peter Blegvad all join mainstay guest Brother Jimmy Hastings. A very pleasant line-up news for this proghead is the departure of Parsons and her irritating vocals. Musically the album is less jazz-rock and more pure prog, as if Steward's omelette days were indeed not fully digested. Yes, you can hear some Egg/ELP-like prog

Opening with a wandering bass line and birdsongs, the album on the book-ending Bryden 2-Step is soon a wild jazz-rock, much reminiscent of their first album, but an added slightly symphonic touch. The closing section of this track is the same riff repeated tiredlessly until interrupted its slow death. Collapso is a play on word (calypso) due to the steel drums, but rest assured that outside these drums, you won't find any tacky Caribbean music on this track. It is hard to call this track jazz-rock either, especially midway through, when the group members are giving it their all. Greaves' bass opens the lengthy Squarer For Maud, probably the most Cow-esque NH track, with Born's cello in the background with Hastings' clarinets and Blegvad's short spoken vocals, but the second part returns to a Caravan-type bossa improv, before going in an insane stop & go section to end it. Great stuff. Just as demented is Miller's Dreams Wide Awake, where Stewart's organ goes completely mad in the first part, then in a much quieter Caravan-styled second part, followed by Miller's usual once-per-album wild solo. Binoculars is the only sung song (by John Greaves), features another of Miller"s sizzling solo

This last NH album (besides the Gowan tribute) is another one of these links between the RIO circle and the Canterbury family, but sadly seems to indicate that Canterbury is reaching its end as RIO is only really getting under way. A marginally better album than their debut, it is mostly the disappearance of Parsons" vocals in the NH soundscape that makes the difference for this proghead. Essential and the last masterpiece of Canterbury music.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#5051) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Review by James Lee
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Oops, did I put on "Close to the Edge" by mistake? No, no, "Of Queues and Cures" is much different- I was just fooled by those darn birds in the first few seconds of "The Bryden 2- Step (for amphibians) pt. 1". Something should really be done about all the bird sounds, and rain sounds, and water sounds on prog albums.

NATIONAL HEALTH has a lot of jazz influence, so if it's dreamy space rock or medieval madrigal jams you want, you are out of luck. But if quick changes of dynamics, tones, and tempo are your thing, there's few bands that do it with this much excitement. The musicians are stellar- I can't think of another album where I've heard every member of the band shine quite so frequently without resorting to solos. But this is also not precise, soulless fusion either- there's depth and character to the passages, and a sense of fun. "The Collapso" introduces steel drums- not a signature prog sound, but it works well within the playful structure of the composition. "Squarer for Maud" can sound a bit like CRIMSON in tone and structure, except for the "Numenous" voiceover, but this is a wilder and freer sound (I'll bet they perspired a lot while playing). "Dreams Wide Awake" starts in a very 70s boogie rock groove, with a killer fuzzy wah synth solo like EDGAR WINTER's "Frankenstein" wishes it had. This being NATIONAL HEALTH, however, the song soon takes off into different realms, alternately utilizing dissonance and melody, crystal clean jazz sections and fuzzed-out atonal passages.

The remainder of the album shows slightly different sides of the band."Binoculars" is a bit of an oddball, featuring 'crooning' and a bit more consistent melodic content. It's also a bit softer and laidback...perhaps they felt you needed a little rest after the first three songs. "Phlakaton" is a bit of fun, at least for them. Finally, they close with "The Bryden 2- Step (for Amphibians) pt. 2", which bounces for a few minutes and then tinkles off into space.

I can't say Canterbury is my thing- the jazz influence is very heavy, and I tend to like a little more conventional structure to my music. Because of the sheer musical skill and energy, though, "Of Queues and Cures" is definitely more fun to listen to than many bands with a (relatively) similar approach. It certainly is worth checking out by anyone more interested in the complex, intricate side of prog, and the influence on later bands is important.

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Send comments to James Lee (BETA) | Report this review (#5054) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Review by Peter
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars OF QUEUES AND CURES, a 1978 release from English "Canterbury" outfit National Health, is a satisfying, but not outstanding slice of jazz fusion, generously seasoned with the sense of adventure, improvisation and flashes of humour (mainly seen in the occasional vocals) that typify this prog sub-genre.

I can hear strong parallels to the early fusion work of Bill Bruford here, along with some similarities to jazz fusion heavies like Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever and Brand X. If you appreciate any or all of those artists, you should like this. While I don't find OF QUEUES AND CURES to be as compelling as the best works of those fusion luminaries, it is still worthy of repeated listens -- in a more generous mood, I might easily have gone as high as four stars.

The musicianship is superb throughout, with the guitar work of Phil Miller, Pip Pyle's drumming, and Dave Stewart's piano being notably accomplished. The inclusion of many guest musicians, on diverse instruments from steel drums, to cello, flute, clarinet, oboe and brass, also helps to flesh out the overall sound, and keep things interesting. The songwriting, while just a trifle uneven in quality, is yet quite good, with the first three tracks being my particular favourites.

If you have a taste for 70s jazz fusion, especially that of the less-disciplined Canterbury vein, I advise you to check this one out. OF QUEUES AND CURES is a fine album, and one that I'm grateful to the Prog Archives for introducing me to.

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Send comments to Peter (BETA) | Report this review (#5056) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, February 10, 2005

Review by Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The last of the Canterbury supergroups, National Health played the sort of engaging sophisticated jazz-rock that one would expect from a group comprising Dave Stewart, Phil Miller and Pip Pyle (that's three-quarters of Hatfield And The North right there) as well as bassist John Greaves. Although at times it threatens to get a little too pristine for my tastes, and it isn't always easy for a band to hold one's attention throughout the course of a lengthy album of mainly instrumental proggy jazz, I believe Of Queues And Cures to be the last great Canterbury album.

The superb opening piece The Bryden 2-Step For Amphibians (Part 1) has a killer quintessentially Canterbury melody and sees the whole band in great form. The lads don't let up throughout this record. As I'm a fan of keyboardist Dave Stewart, his contributions tend to leap out at me, but guitarist Miller and Greaves (for an excellent closing solo) deserve an honourary mention too. The playing and composition really is top-notch and super-tight.

And really this whole album is strong. The Collapso a formidably quirky, technically demanding piece (with some steel drums thrown in one point) and the initially brooding, ultimately sizzling Squarer For Maud (with half-audible poetry, some fantastic solo-ing from Miller and Stewart and a really jarring last minute) is another standout piece. Dreams Wide Awake boasts both fiery jazz-rock and a funky, almost dance-able groove. I think it may just be my favourite track here, actually. Really teaches Weather Report a thing or two!

Binoculars is the only proper vocal song, and Greaves' crooning really has me wishing for either Richard Sinclair or Robert Wyatt, but the defining moments on this song are a glorious epic flute solo that starts off as all meandering and flighty before leading the band through a storming section, a moody brassy section that would have done King Crimson proud and a soaring Phil Miller solo to round it all off. Phlakaton is a real curiousity, even for a Canterbury band. It lasts all of 8 seconds and sounds like a unused vocal track from the Comus album First Utterance. This brief pagan diversion leads into The Bryden 2-Step For Amphibians (Part 2) which offers some nice menacing organ-led jazz-rock and a restatement of the wonderful melody from Part 1 to round the album off.

Musically, National Health is at least the equal of many of the groups that preceeded it, but I do feel that it does lack a little bit of the warmth that most of them exuded. Perhaps the musicians themselves struggled with the fact that it had all been done before ... primarily by themselves! National Health is an absolute must for Canterbury fans, and perhaps not really a bad introduction to the Canterbury world (especially for fusion afficionados). ... 76% on the MPV scale

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Send comments to Trotsky (BETA) | Report this review (#41972) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, August 07, 2005

Review by Progbear
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars The band's second release is an absolute stunner! Reduced to a quartet, the lineup is nearly identical to Hatfield but for bassist/vocalist John Greaves (ex-Henry Cow), filling the Richard Sinclair role (he even sounds a bit like him on "Binoculars").

Musically, this is a whole other animal from Hatfield, even if it's clearly built on the same foundation. I find it amusing that Stewart left due to complaints that the music had come too close to "jazz fusion", as this is by far the most orchestrated National Health album, with brass, woodwinds and cellos imparting dense symphonic textures to pretty much all the tracks.

This is some of the band's most intricate music, the changes on Stewart's "The Collapso" and Greaves' "Squarer for Maud" bound to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up! The closest the album gets to a ballad is Pip Pyle's lengthy "Binoculars", a rather sarcastic song about his children's obsession with television, which features lots of flute and electric piano solos. The fuzz organ solo on "Dreams Wide Awake" is bound to turn a few heads, but I think the one in "The Bryden 2-step (for amphibians)" is rather more well-integrated. In fact, that is probably one of my favourite NH tracks ever.

For me, this is the apex, the pinnacle of all things Canterbury. There's not a wasted moment on the entire disc, and the guys were really at the top of their game here. Well done!

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Send comments to Progbear (BETA) | Report this review (#47515) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Review by fuxi
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars It would never occur to me to call this a 'cold' album. In spite of the intricate compositions and the virtuoso jazz-rock soloing, I feel there is a lot of warmth in OF QUEUES AND CURES, not just because there are so many delightful melodies hidden here, but also because of John Greaves' 'crooning' and the beautiful arrangements for cello, clarinet (Jimmy Hastings!) and brass. And thank goodness for that inimitable humour, so typical of the Canterbury scene!

Summing up, this is one of the greatest 'jazz-prog' albums ever produced, up there with Brand X's MOROCCAN ROLL and Bruford's ONE OF A KIND.

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Posted Thursday, March 02, 2006

Review by NJprogfan
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars First time you throw this album on you may come away thinking the whole thing was made up on the fly. But after a few listens, you'll come away with the opposite. What you get is some fantastic playing in the usual Canterbury style, a bit jazzy, always fusiony with the prerequiste English humor, (check out 'Binoculars' lyrics). Dave Stewart's keyboard playing is fantastic, Pyle's drumming is spot on wonderful and Miller's guitar work is always a pleasure, but I'm keen on Greaves bass; fluid and bouncy, it keeps things very lively! If you're a Stewart fan, then you'll love "Dreams Wide Awake" a Stewart keyboard feast! What keeps it for me from the almighty 5 stars is a somewhat sameness to their first album. No real progression, but hey, any band prog or otherwise that uses steel drums and make it sound unlike calypso gets at least 4-stars from me!! For fans of Canterbury and jazz/fusion fans and any others that might like to try the genres and not get turned off immediately.

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Posted Thursday, June 22, 2006

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars National Health started its formation through long-term friendship between Dave Stewart (Hatfield & The North) and Alan Gowen (Gilgamesh). This happened when they shared the bill for a gig in November 1973, London. The initial plan was to create a rock orchestra, with double guitars, double keyboards, bass, drums, and three female vocalists. This was almost done, with an eight-piece line-up comprised of Phil Miller and Phil Lee (guitars, ex-Hatfield and Gilgamesh respectively), Dave Stewart and Alan Gowen (keyboards), Mont Campbell (bass, ex-Egg, Stewart's earlier band), Bill Bruford (drums, ex-Yes and King Crimson) and Amanda Parsons (vocals, formerly a third of the Northettes, Hatfield's backing vocalists).

"Of Queues and Cures" is the band's second album, released one year after the debut self titled album. This album maintains its composition in a style that is very close with its predecessor where the Canterbury style sounds very dominant through the combined work of guitar and keyboard. The album was designed with opening and closing track of two parts "The Bryden 2-Step (for Amphibians)" part 1 and part 2. This kind of music struck me at the first time when I got a cassette version of EGG "Civil Surface". The music did not sound naturally to my ears but the more I listened to it the more I wanted to explore the music. Finally I got it right for my ears sometime in early 80s.

Nowadays, after I knew The TANGENT with their Canterbury style, reminds me to this classic album of National Health. I spun the CD (again) after I listened to The Tangent "Music That Died Alone" and it reminds me back to years when I listened to music of this kind during my high school years.

Overall, this is an excellent album with good combination of Phil Miller's guitar, Dave Stewart's piano, which contributes the creation of quality music. Even though this album would probably be successful in winning the listener's ears, this does not guarantee that Canterbury style has been sacrificed into a more pop arrangement. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#96283) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, October 30, 2006

Review by Prog-jester
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Being a newbie to the genre, I was completely blown away by this stunning band.While GILGAMESH didn't impress me much (and I need to check Hatfields, haven't got them yet), NATIONAL HEALTH has everything a progger needs: complex and frequently changing signatures, shifitng moods and tempos, true sense of progressiveness and pushing-the-boundaries attitude, excellent musicianship and unquestionable talent. The best ones here are Dave and Pip (man, what a drummer!!!) The opening "Bryden" track opens with peaceful scene, followed by fiery fusion part.This moment on 4.39 - good Lord, what a break!!! "The Collapso" ,which is playing right now in my headphones, opens with odd steeldrums and jerking organ, later shifting into more powerful tune."Squarer for the Maud" consists from several different themes (what a great stuff begins at 4.08!), each of them significantly melodical and greatly played. "Dreams wide Awake" - a good example of groovy and humorous prog."Binoculars" opens with vocalesque part - some type of a song here - ending with the same part and haunting ballad coda.8 seconds of cheerful insanity in "Phlankton" prove that this is an album of the week for me! ;-). Closing reprise of "Bryden 2 Step" fills you with anticipating of something more to come...I mean, your post-listening state will be a bit strange...well, it was in my case...

In conclusion: being a newbie to jazz/fusion/canterbury/any kinds of more ODD and WEIRD stuff (nevertheless being a huge fan of Crimso ;-) ) , I was caught by this album without noticing.Now it's too late - I've already written my review giving them a 4.49 stars. This one is a bit more acessible, then the first one - which I love too! - so this one is more recommended for a newbies like me!

PS: man, what musicians they are!..incredible and inreachable...

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Send comments to Prog-jester (BETA) | Report this review (#104047) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, December 21, 2006

Review by Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars By the late 1970s, Progressive Rock had become high art, some say to its detriment. Though I can't agree with that sardonic view, Canterbury fellows National Health were an excellent example of that ambition and high-mindedness, and the timing could not have been worse. Founder/organist Dave Stewart says in his notes; "...at the exact point when the British rock business and media were beginning to turn their backs on decent music and gearing themselves up to promote instead some of the most crass, simplistic, brutal, ugly and stupid music imaginable, in an atmosphere where an admitted inability to play one's instrument was hailed as a sign of genius, my friend/fellow keyboardist Alan Gowen and I decided to form a large scale rock ensemble playing intricate, mainly instrumental music. You can be sure we weren't doing it to be fashionable". You tell 'em, Dave.

After a luke-warm tour supporting Steve Hillage in the spring of 1978, the group had developed new material and began recording. Though this band's first self-titled album is considered more important, 'Of Queues and Cures' is superior in composition. Not truly a concept album but musical themes appear throughout this perfectly recorded set of seven originals beginning with 'The Bryden 2-Step' and Stewart's gooey keyboard sounds, picked-up by Phil Miller's cutting guitar, and the crack rhythms of legendary drummer Pip Pyle and bassist John Greaves. Georgie Born's cello, Paul Neiman and Phil Minton's horns add some class to this 9-minute pumper that re-articulates themes with grace, shifting from the softness of Dave's electric piano to some hard-edged jazz rock. 'The Collapso', though amusing, is a quite serious arrangement of guitar harmonies, military marches, nu-jazz and classical lines. Georgie Born's rich, brooding cello opens 'Squarer For Maude' (a performance that cemented her place in the band), eleven minutes of fantastic progressive rock filled with inspired patterns, ingenious constructions, intricate layers, the occasional freak-out, and peppered with great jams and group dynamics. 'Dreams Wide Awake' rocks and features some tasty angles from Dave Stewart's keys as well as the lighter, adult fusion sound the band played with. Also their taste for improvisation with restraint starts to come out here. Twelve-minute epic 'The Binoculars' starts mellow with John Greaves' funny moaning, pastoral sections highlighted by Jimmy Hasting's airy flute, and some dark, symphonic dirge. Part Two of 'Bryden 2-Step' wraps it all up by reprising the original motif, allowing the players one last hurrah.

For music that came out of the Canterbury scene, it didn't get any more sophisticated than National Health and if you're ready for something a bit less in your face than Yes, Tull or Pink Floyd, these fellas might really fit the bill. Nearly gave it five stars, wonderful record.

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Send comments to Atavachron (BETA) | Report this review (#130384) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, July 27, 2007

Review by Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars The only lineup change from their debut is bassist Neil Murray being replaced by former HENRY COW's bassist John Greaves. As has been noted, the lineup for the first two NATIONAL HEALTH albums is the same as the HATFIELD AND THE NORTH's except for the bass player (Richard Sinclair).There was a HENRY COW connection with "The Rotters Club" album as well back then, as bassoon and aboe player Lindsay Cooper guested on that one. I just have to say that I have been listening to so much amazing music lately including this album and THE MUFFINS' "Manna / Mirage" , HENRY COW's "Western Culture" and COS' "Viva Boma". This record has compositions from each band member while their debut was pretty much Dave Stewart's baby.

"The Bryden 2-Step (For Amphibians) Part 1" opens with birds chirping as the synths flow with lots of organ. The song kicks in after 2 minutes with prominant drums. Some excellent guitar 6 minutes in before the song calms back down before 8 minutes. Bass and light drums to end it. "The Callipso" hits the ground running before settling down a minute in. There is a Caribbean sounding section with some guest steel drums as the tempo continues to change. The first two songs and the last one are Stewart compositions. John Greaves composed the next one called "Squarer For Maud" and there is a definite HENRY COW flavour to it. There is even a guest appearance from former HENRY COW cellest Georgie Born. This one is darker sounding with angular guitar melodies. Organ arrives before a great guitar solo 3 minutes in. Spoken words 6 minutes in as the guitar comes back. This is great ! It becomes uptempo with some guest clarinet from Jimmy Hastings. Piano, drums and cello to end it. Love the ending.

"Dreams Wide Awake" is a Phil Miller tune. He asked Stewart to contribute some "mad" organ at the beginning, and that is what we get along with an aggressive and abrasive sound. A change arrives 2 1/2 minutes in. Guitar 6 minutes in is good as the song ends with a jazz vibe. "Binoculars" and "Phlakhaton" are both Pip Pyle songs.The later an 8 second drum solo, the former has Greaves on vocals. The only song with vocals by the way. It opens with solemn organ sounds for a minute then vocals and drums come in. Jimmy Hastings adds some beautiful flute melodies to this song and the drumming is outstanding. The vocals come and go and the song ends with a nice bass, guitar and drum melody. "The Bryden 2-Step (For Amphibians) Part 2" reprises the same melody as part 1 but has brighter moments as well as some atmosphere to end it. The drumming, guitar and organ work stand out.

It's kind of cool that in 1978 Canterbury was still being recorded and released, and we certainly are the benefactors of this. A must have for Canterbury fans. By the way Dave Stewart prefers this record over the debut, and so do I.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#146312) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, October 21, 2007

Review by Raff
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Less accessible than its predecessor, the band's self-titled debut, "Of Queues and Cures" is an astonishingly accomplished, mature album of elegant, variegated jazz-rock, featuring a cracking combination of musicians belonging to the Canterbury circle. This can be seen as the missing link between Soft Machine's drier, somewhat cerebral take on the genre, and Hatfield and the North's more mellow, laid-back approach.

"Of Queues and Cures" is a mainly instrumental album, with the sole exception of "Binoculars", an 11-minute-plus song about TV addiction featuring Pip Pyle's inimitably ironic lyrics and John Greaves's wry crooning. In my opinion, Greaves (formerly of Henry Cow) is the real star of the album, his fluid, stylish bass lines meshing seamlessly with Pyle's intricate drumming patterns, and stamping the musician's individuality all over the compositions. His vocals on "Binoculars" remind the listener of the sorely missed Richard Sinclair's, though by no means possessed of the same smooth, almost sensual quality.

However, the most striking feature of this album is the stellar quality of the musical composition, which offers moments of sheer auditory pleasure. Needless to say, there is nothing easy about it: it is the kind of music you have to listen carefully to in order to fully appreciate it. Putting the album on as background music is only a waste of time and electricity - this is something you need to savour and digest. The four members of National Health are supplemented by what comes across as a mini-orchestra, including cellist Georgie Born (a future permanent member of the band), a horn section and the ubiquitous Jimmy Hastings (a Canterbury stalwart if there ever was one) on flute.The addition of those elements adds richness and texture to a music which is complex, yet never self-indulgent.

It is not easy to describe the individual tracks in detail, since it wouldn't do them complete justice. Two-part "The Bryden Two-Step" is very much a showcase for Stewart's skills as a keyboardist and Pyle's military-style drumming, somewhat reminiscent of the opening track of NH's debut, the magnificent "Tenemos Roads". The credits are equally split between the four members, with guitarist Phil Miller responsible for the album's most accessible song, "Dreams Wide Awake", featuring Stewart's 'mad' organ at the beginning (check the hilarious liner notes for details. Greaves signs instead the album's other 'epic', "Squarer for Maud", a wild ride through different musical moods which goes from the soothing to the positively dissonant.

Though not quite the masterpiece Hatfield and the North's "The Rotters' Club" was, "Of Queues and Cures" is a very rewarding (though also demanding) listen - especially for those who are keen on exploring some authentically progressive, technically proficient, yet far from soulless music.

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Send comments to Raff (BETA) | Report this review (#152934) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Review by Padraic
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The second National Health album is without question one of the major highlights of the Canterbury scene, despite coming relatively late in the game both in terms of that scene and in terms of the heyday of progressive rock itself. The album opens with lilting synthesizers and birdsong before transitioning into the ferocious, driving rhythm of The Bryden 2-step (Part I), all courtesy of Pip Pyle's stunning drumming throughout the track. The major compositions were for the most part divided among the core group of musicians, a slight change from the first album where Stewart was the main writer. The album simply moves from one outstanding track to the next; the musicianship is of the highest caliber throughout the entire record. This author admits a certain predilection indeed for the first side - the relentlessness of Bryden Part I, the brilliance of Stewart on the Hammond on The Collapso, the majesty of Squarer for Maud - rivals anything that progressive rock has ever produced. While difficult to pinpoint any single highlight, as the entirety of the record is just sheer brilliance, it seems to this writer that the Greaves composition Squarer for Maud seems to encapsulate everything that Dave Stewart wanted this band to be - a rock orchestra of sorts playing some of the most intricate and challenging music conceivable, a feeling certainly enhanced by the presence of guest musicians such as Georgie Born on cello and Jimmy Hastings on clarinet and flute. For those that claim prog was dead by 1977 one merely has to hand such detractors a copy of this album and their mind shall be changed forever more, as they are in possession of one of the best albums of all time. An easy 5 stars for this masterpiece.

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Send comments to Padraic (BETA) | Report this review (#205314) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Post/Math Rock Team
4 stars The second album from this Canterbury supergroup. Keyboardist/founder Alan Gowan, vocalist Amanda Parsons and bassist Neil Murray are now gone. Ex-Henry Cow bassist John Greaves joins for this album. Other Cow related musicians like Peter Blegvad and Greaves own replacemnet Georgie Born are here too. Dave Stewert is the only keyboardist. Other guest musicians including Canterbury legend Jimmy Hastings play wind instruments.

The music here is a blend of Canterbury and fusion with some avant-prog influences. Mostly instrumental. Pip Pyle's drumming on this album is better than his playing with Gong and Hatfield. Phil Miller is great on guitar, sounding like he does on the Hatfield and Matching Mole albums. Stewert's playing is a mix of his Hatfield stuff and what he was doing with Bill Bruford at the time. Greaves bass playing is similar to his work in Cow.

Part 1 of "The Bryden 2-Step(For Amphibians)" is longer and superior to Part 2. It starts off with sustained synth and bird noises. The bass and synth duet. Then drums and guitar. I love halfway through where you hear fuzz organ. After that some horns. The fuzz organ comes back with what sounds like bells. Part 2 has a great beginning with organ and a marching beat. This sounds like Egg. The rest of the track is not as interesting as Part 1.

"The Collapso" has a Caribbean flavour. Nice steel drums in this song. "Squarer For Maud" was written by Greaves. It sounds like a mix of Canterbury and avant-prog. Some good sax in this song. I love the part with handclaps. In the middle there is a great hypnotic two note part on organ that gets played over and over. Then a spoken word part by Blegvad. Good organ solo near the end. Some violin or cello as well. "Dreams Wide Awake" sounds like Hatfield. Nice duet of synth and guitar near the end.

"Binoculars" is the longest song and the only one with lyrics/singing. Starts off with some great guitar and organ. Maybe some oboe or flute too. Then drums and bass. Greaves starts singing and Miller plays what he is singing. The song is about how John Wayne and Rip Torn can make us all young. Or something. Phil has a great guitar tone on this song. Flute solo after 3 minutes. Before 5 minutes there is an awesome organ solo. Then it goes back to the beginning part with wind instruments instead of guitar. The wind instruments float around for awhile before the organ comes back and the singing resumes. Later on some nice Rhodes playing and some more flute and/or oboe. Then a guitar solo.

One of the best albums from the Canterbury scene. Most mainstream prog acts were starting to streamline their sound at this time. But some groups like National Health just kept progging on. Not a masterpiece but very close. 4 stars.

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Send comments to zravkapt (BETA) | Report this review (#324278) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Second album of National Health - the band,often named last Canterbury Scene supergroup - continues development of music they started on their debut.

After some line-up changes they became just a quartet now (with Henry Cow bassist John Greaves on board). Unhappily, four excellent musicians even more concentrate on music itself: musicianship level is excellent there, but the music isn't. With less early Canterbury jazz fusion elements and more Henry Cow-like chamber sound, it looks musicians are really happy to build even more complex (and lifeless) constructions.

Even from very first song you will ask yourself what happened with usually so playful and improvs-friendly Canterbury sound? Possibly, musical life outside in late 70-s was extremely unfriendly to such music, but the musicians reaction just to play for themselves as complex music as they can, leaving aside all that great freshness Canterbury sound was so well-known during early 70-s, wasn't good decision I afraid.

Great musical abilities demonstration (or just excellent "music for musicians to listen"), but the spirit is gone. Canterbury on the borderline with chamber rock. Not bad,but far from the best it somewhere was.

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Send comments to snobb (BETA) | Report this review (#329200) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, November 22, 2010

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars An oasis (one of many, I'd say) in prog's lean years between the fading of the first golden age and the dawn of the neo-prog movement, National Health's second album is the glorious culmination of all the different Canterbury scene strands that fed into that particular supergroup. With intriguing spoken word from Peter Blegvad on Squarer for Maud, an intriguing anti-TV rant in the form of Binoculars, a hilarious "a capella drum solo" and wonderful instrumentals in between, the album shows all the humour, whimsy, and musicianship usually associated with the best of the Canterbury scene. As essential as the band's debut, and as important any Canterbury collection as Hatfield and the North's two albums, or the best releases by Caravan and Soft Machine.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#558398) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, October 28, 2011

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
4 stars Canterbury darlings of jazz rock National Health followed up their debut with a delightful musical triumph "Of Queues and Cures". One would hope, having enjoyed the debut, that there would be more of the same, including Amanda Parsons beauteous vocals, and a lot of inventive jazz fusion. It is missing the vocals this time round but still delivers, perhaps even moreso than the debut musically speaking. The guitar melodies of Phil Miller, and Dave Stewart's keyboard wizardry along with the sporadic jazz drumming of Pip Pyle, return on this followup and bassist John Greaves inventive rhythms replace those of Neil Murray, and he even has a stint at crooning on 'Binoculars'.

The album cover features a jar full of ears and perhaps this symbolises that to enjoy this album you need to put on a new set of ears. This will appeal to those who like fractured time sigs and extreme jazz and I am certainly one who enjoys prog with broken time sigs and innovative experimentation. It begins with sweet whistling birds and Stewart's lulling keyboards and suddenly breaks into jazz figures to tantalise even the most disconcerted music listener.

'The Callapso' certainly moves into many competing musical shapes, with strong textures of bright colourful rhythms and dynamic soloing on guitar. This is followed by a positive experimental string dominated moody piece called 'Squarer for Maud' clocking 11 and a half minutes. It sounds like a cat stalking in a dark alley in the intro. The atmosphere is darker and the fuzz on the guitar is very appropriate. The jazz outbreak works well, along with the percussion finesse. It even has odd time sig changes that unsettle and are hard to pin down in places. This is a triumphant instrumental with huge variations in pace and rhythmical structure. I gave up counting the time sigs as it becomes highly complex in the mid section with a massive time shift and then it suddenly breaks into a weird narrative. The narration reminded me of King Crimson's Indiscipline. After this the guitars soar in again and there is a strange time sig that never sounds quite right yet works against the keyboard motif. It is great to hear so many instruments competing against each other. This is the best track from the band and well worth a listen to see how genius music can be played if one is versatile enough. The ending is masterful with scratching violins answering a jaunty beat that never stays on one bar for long. At the end of it I am exhausted and can't wait to play it again.

'Binoculars' is another lengthy track to savour the musical palette. Stewart's keyboards are spacey and emotional, and then we hear the vocals of Neil Murray. It is a pleasant break from all the instrumental work and sounds decidedly like Robert Wyatt with quite a bit of humour in the lyrics; "mule kicks, nerves twitch, legs kick, it's a shame to say you're such a bore today, your expression has gone away, If you just sit on your arse, the whole world won't pass, it's such a farce, it was quite insane?" All in all this is quite a nice song with a whimsical Canterbury flavour. The majestic flourishes in the mid section are wonderful. A classic song by any standards.

The album does not disappoint, as it is replete with full blown experimental jazz shapes and innovative musicianship. This album is a more mature approach though I missed Amanda's vocals. There is a great deal of brass on this album and it shines as a great example of Canterbury prog in the same vein as Matching Mole or Hatfield and the North. It is another album that cements National Health's reputation as one of the best Canterbury or jazz fusion acts in the business.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#754714) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, May 18, 2012

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Neo Prog Team
3 stars Heading to the first expanded live tour Neil Murray announced his departure from National Health, surprisingly joining the emerging Hard Rock trend of David Coverdale's Whitesnake.His replacement would be ex-Henry Cow's bassist John Greaves.What followed was an early-78' tour all around Europe as well as on the British Islands, supporting Steve Hillage.Greaves' role would not be limited on bass duties, it would be prooved he would have an energetic role on National Health's upcoming album, both vocally and compositionally, entering the Ridge Farm Studio near Dorking, Surry in summer 78'.A huge guest list appears on the so named ''Of queues and cures'': Art Bears's Peter Blegvad on vocals, Georgie Born (who replaced John Greaves on Henry Cow in 1976) on cello, Jimmy Hastings of Caravan fame on flutes/clarinet and the list goes on.The new National Health work was eventually released in November 78' on Charly Records.

National Health insist on playing a Canterbury-flavored Prog/Fusion with tight, cohesive and impressive instrumental capacity, full of jazzy nuances and even some mid-70's CAMEL-esque vibes.What is quite different from their debut is the limited presence of the fascinating combination between ethereal plays with harmonic tunes and the extraordinary, amazing interplays of the original quartet.Instead, the focus on ''Of queues and cures'' relies on the later ideas, being an absolutely professional work of a bunch of virtuosic musicians who blend their semi-loose jazzy ideas with the tremendous breaks and unusual Progressive Rock structures.No vocals in this album, just all instrumental material, complex and adventurous Prog/Fusion with endless organ moves, technical solos and furious interplays.Hasting's clarinet and flutes add an almost RIO-esque vibe at moments, while there are also bits of Horn Rock in a couple of moments.Speaking of National Health's arrangements, these come up as pretty intricate with stretched instrumental madness in long and very dense compositions, maybe a bit too dense for their own good.You cant do else though but admire this all-star line-up, which produced some of the most complicated Canterbury music at the end of the 70's.Constant changes between piano lines and organ waves, a guitar that starts up slowly and grows into monster, indulgent solos and chaotic instrumental masturbations with abstract and more tighten themes, unleashing the endless talent of the group.

To my ears National Health's sophomore album is not on par with the band's masterful and unforgettable debut, however it remains a fantastic example of passionate, challenging and captivating Progressive Rock of the best Canterbury tradition.Strongly recommended, maybe even more if you are deep into both Progressive Rock and Jazz/Fusion...3.5 stars.

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Send comments to apps79 (BETA) | Report this review (#1060838) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Review by siLLy puPPy
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Once again going against the grain of the fading prog scene while punk and disco were usurping the attention of the masses, NATIONAL HEALTH pumped out one more album before calling it quits (ok technically there's a third) and what a magnificent album it is! Their second masterpiece in a row is OF QUEUES AND CURES and it does not disappoint one bit despite having a totally different sound than their debut.

The core line up has changed a bit as Neil Murray abandoned his bass duties and was replaced by John Greaves who is most famous for his work with Henry Cow but also was in Soft Heap as well as releasing several solo albums. His addition gives this album a rougher sound with his more experiment RIO approach. Noticeably missing from this sophomore album is the angelic vocal contributions of Amanda Parsons meaning this 2nd album sounds a lot less Hatfield and the North influenced. This album has more of a complex jam session feel to it with less vocals and more instruments. In addition to the long list from the debut we also get some cello, trumpet, trombone and oboe added to the mix. It is more of a jazz-fusion meets Canterbury sound with all the quirkiness turned up to 11 and bass and fuzz organ boosted up accordingly.

Tracks like "Squarer For Maude" have the perfect recipe for brilliance with their frenetic and sometimes repetitious jazz-fusion template that blends guitar solos and even a brief spoken word excursion inspired by Peter Blegvad of Slapp Happy. The jam continues in a hypnotic continuity until suddenly and unexpectedly changes completely reminding you that this band is always full of surprises and breathes life into everything they touch. This track is no anomaly as each one is brilliant in its own special way.

Overall an absolutely phenomenal album that pretty much celebrates the end of an era where prog ruled for a brief period which celebrates this crowning achievement with bravado. You could not ask for a better culmination of the Canterbury sound than what you get on this album where Dave Stewart kills it on keyboards, Phil Miller sizzles on guitar, Pip Pyle rocks the house and the entire block on drums and John Greaves adds yet more elements of complexity to an already amazing non-easy listening band. All the extra sounds that are incorporated on this album are just super exciting icing on an already spicy deliciously rich cake. This National Health plan is mandatory for my health and i highly recommend it for yours.

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Send comments to siLLy puPPy (BETA) | Report this review (#1131993) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, February 15, 2014

Latest members reviews

5 stars A band of serious, mature musicians who desire to make challenging, sophisticated music. Though all coming from Canterbury roots, I consider this album more akin to good jazz fusion than spacey, psychedelic experimentalist fun and silliness that some of the Canterbury stuff was. (Though by thi ... (read more)

Report this review (#894264) | Posted by BrufordFreak | Tuesday, January 15, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars After hearing National Health's debut I still didn't count the band into my top three Canterbury-list and I still don't count Camel as a Canterbury-scene band. Well, after hearing "Of Queues and Cures" Soft Machine fell out of there. I still think that Caravan and Gilgamesh are in their own clas ... (read more)

Report this review (#362554) | Posted by BrainStillLife | Friday, December 24, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is the question! - which is the best album of Canterbury sub-genre of all-time? On my private list National Health's "On queues and cures" has the well-earned first place. Great album and extraordinary music. This album has not any weak points. All tracks are very good ("Binoculars") or magn ... (read more)

Report this review (#325141) | Posted by Koper | Thursday, November 18, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I see this album has taken soooo many reviews that mine might just as well be a waste of time. But i will say something too. This is by far NH's greates work of theri ''many'' LOL. This music gets in to you and you don't feel like pushing pause or stop or lose your attention to something else. Th ... (read more)

Report this review (#261854) | Posted by camelspotter | Thursday, January 21, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars National Health only got to make 3 long playing albums during it's lifetime, and were really lucky to find a record company that agreed to put them out. After all, it was the late 70's, when progressive rock was not quite on the height of it's popularity. But if the amount of the music they made ... (read more)

Report this review (#219935) | Posted by St.Cleve Chronicle | Friday, June 05, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The groovy side of the National Health (Service). The Canterbury scene can be divided into two scenes: The more pop/rock camp and the jazz/fusion camp. National Health is in the latter category and this album has both legs in the jazz/fusion camp. Melodic, but jazzy............ and very groov ... (read more)

Report this review (#188727) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Monday, November 10, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars As National Health was intended to be an eight-piece supergroup (two guitars, bass, two keyboards, drums and feminine vocals), you might notice that Of Queues And Cures is everything Dave Stewart and the late Alan Gowen were not expecting. The amazing rock orchestra didn't make it for too long ... (read more)

Report this review (#114614) | Posted by Oneiromancer | Thursday, March 08, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Can't say I know every band from Canterbury scene,but I probably heard everything that really matters in terms of overall quality.Having said that,I consider this album to be the very best Canterbury has to offer.Neo-classicism mixed with jazz so tipycal for the sub-genre and jaw-dropping ... (read more)

Report this review (#64655) | Posted by ljubaspriest | Saturday, January 14, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Never quite sure as to when I was listening to intentional comedy rock, and when I was listening to a serious passage of collaboration from some of the better musicians of the time, this album cemented it's place in my permanent collection of regular players on the strengths of what I think to be ... (read more)

Report this review (#63349) | Posted by | Friday, January 06, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is an earthshaking album.I still remember the firt time that i listen to it and espesially to the third tune Squarer for Maud...I was in paradise.All the complex elements are here but with Creativity and GREAT melodies.From the great atmospheres-great keybords in Stewart's stuff to the Majes ... (read more)

Report this review (#47919) | Posted by | Thursday, September 22, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The second work released in 1978 "Of Queues And Cures". The bassist had alternated to John Greaves of former HENRY COW before the first work was announced. A variegated guest is invited as a usual four piece organization. Content are more variegated than the former works. It is a bewildering r ... (read more)

Report this review (#44075) | Posted by braindamage | Wednesday, August 24, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars My first impression of National Health was somewhat of a cold, jazz-fusioned version of Hatfield and the North. Although I could appreciate some bits of music here and there, the overall picture of the band wasn't an impressive one. Somehow, a year later I became again increasingly curious abo ... (read more)

Report this review (#5055) | Posted by | Friday, December 24, 2004 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I like this album, but not as much as NH's first album. Collapso is, to be sure, a lot of fun, and the Squarer for Maud and Dream's Wide Awake have good moments. However, in this album starts to creep more of a 1970s 'fusion' sound that reminds one too much of fusion noodling. There are fewer memora ... (read more)

Report this review (#5049) | Posted by | Saturday, February 07, 2004 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is National Health's crowning acheivement. Much more devloped & mautre then their predecesser. Fantastic, well composed jams that don't bore you, but refresh you mind. Since that was Dave Stewart's intention, music for the intellect! Don't let this release pass you by!(If you need to purchase C ... (read more)

Report this review (#5046) | Posted by | Monday, December 22, 2003 | Review Permanlink

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