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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 I completely understand why some listeners have trouble with National Health. Although the band's music is highly sophisticated, it does not rock out sufficiently for true rock fans (and it is definitely not bombastic); although the band use a lot of playful classical (or neo-classical) melodies in the vein of Stravinsky, they sound too electrical for classical music buffs; and although they perform with all the virtuosity of a typical jazzrock band, their solos are never quite jazzy enough for true jazz freaks.

On the other hand, people who enjoy hybrids, or who appreciate the Canterbury Scene's pastoral moods and their typically English sense of humour, will adore this album. What is there not to enjoy?

The opening track, Tenemos Roads, immediately carries you away, with a main theme which is undeniably hummable, but if you're new to the Health, you may then need a little time before you can appreciate Dave Stewart's spiky fuzz-box organ solo, Phil Miller's hermetic guitar solo and Amanda Parsons' angelic vocals. Still, if you have any sense, you'll immediately be seduced by Jimmy Hastings' lovely flute (mainly accompanied by electric piano and bass) in the song's middle section. Brujo, the second track, will probably appeal mainly because of Alan Gowen's delightful moog solo. If you haven't discovered Gowen, well, he's one of the greatest moog virtuosi, easily worth the price of this album on his own. In Borogoves (Excerpt from Part Two) the first thing that will strike you is Neil Murray's superb bass solo, which is followed by some very forceful statements by Phil Miller on lead guitar. The final two tracks, Borogoves (Part One) and Elephants are by far the most varied and ambitious on the album, compositionally speaking: you're led through an amazing variety of moods, melodies and tempo changes; all the players in the band get their chance to shine (I mustn't omit Pip Pyle's superb drumming!), while the special guests (Parsons, Hastings, Gowen) lend the music extra colour.

This debut album is not quite the masterpiece its successor, OF QUEUES AND CURES (even more colourful and varied!) would turn out to be, but you'll undoubtedly enjoy it if you're into intricate, predominantly instrumental prog. For Canterbury freaks it is, of course, essential listening.

fuxi | 4/5 |


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