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National Health

Canterbury Scene

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National Health Missing Pieces album cover
3.67 | 67 ratings | 9 reviews | 18% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Boxset/Compilation, released in 1996

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Bourée (0:53)
2. Paracelsus (incl. Bourée reprise) (5:36)
3. Clocks and Clouds (6:47)
4. Agrippa (8:23)
5. The Lethargy Shuffle & The Mind-Your-Backs Tango (9:19)
6. Zabaglione (7:48)
7. Lethargy Shuffle Part 2 (4:36)
8. Croquette for Electronic Beating Group (3:52)
9. Phlakaton (0:26)
10. The Towplane & The Glider (5:12)
11. Starlight on Seaweed (3:08)
12. Walking the Dog (extract) (0:25)

Total Time 56:25

Line-up / Musicians

- Dave Stewart / keyboards
- Alan Gowen / keyboards
- Phil Miller / guitars
- Steve Hillage / guitars
- Phil Lee / guitars
- John Greaves / bass & vocals
- Mont Campbell / bass
- Pip Pyle / drums
- Bill Bruford / drums
- Amanda Parsons / vocals (3,6)
- Barbara Gaskin / vocals

Releases information

CD East Side Digital ESD 81172 (US)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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NATIONAL HEALTH Missing Pieces ratings distribution

(67 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(18%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(54%)
Good, but non-essential (24%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

NATIONAL HEALTH Missing Pieces reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Progbear
4 stars Most "rarities and unreleased"-type of releases are pretty appalling; floor-sweepings that should never have been released in the first place. WORKS VOL. 2 springs immediately to mind. This album is something else, though. Since National Health had a lot more output than they were able to record, hearing these tracks, particularly the earliest work, is revelatory.

The music here is better than it has any right to be. Most of the tunes contain the original seven-piece lineup of two keyboards (Stewart, Gowen), two guitars (Phil Miller, Phil Lee), bass (Mont Campbell), drums (Bill Bruford) and vocals (Amanda Parsons). Stewart and Campbell are responsible for the bulk of the material, and it's absolutely outstanding, good enough to have appeared on their "real" albums. The sound quality is a bit on the garage-y side, but isn't bad enough to make it unlistenable.

Some of the later tracks feature the later, John Greaves quartet lineup, and "Starlight On Seaweed" is a "re-creation" by Stewart and Barbara Gaskin. It does peter out a bit towards the end, frankly, but there's enough quality music to make this worth owning. An precious artifact, one I wish had been unearthed a long time ago.

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

This issue from one of the shadier label (in terms of questionable sound qualities of their legit issues) Voiceprint is rather unlike what I've been able to hear until now. In other words, this probably one of their better release in their catalogue not always spotless. Having finally agreed to let these pre-debut album recordings (demo sessions from 75 and radio sessions from 76) and some later after last album tidbits (winter 79), this becomes an essential NH would-be album.

Bookended with two sloppy and voluntarily stupid tracks, this collection of add pieces and bits is a very interesting one as we are given a sight of the group's halcyon formative days through unusual line-ups, most notably ex-Egg Mont Campbell's participation on bass (six of the tracks are penned by him) and his early exit due to a constantly delayed debut album. We also get to hear the group with both Miller and Lee on guitars as well as both Stewart and Gowen on keys on the same tracks. And even Steve Hillage dropped by for few string shaking in a radio session.

Vocally speaking, we still get some tracks that are ruined by the debatable voice of Amanda Parsons (she is definitely not my cup of tea, I much prefer Gaskin as far as Northettes are concerned), even though she's pretty good in the scatting of Zabaglione, especially just before the slight guitar string screw-up around the end of the track. Funnily enough, around the end of Clocks And Clouds, you can swear Dave Sinclair was passing by with his distorted Hammond organ from the Grey And Pink era, but this is Stewart in 76. Agrippa is actually probably my fave NH track and The Mind- Your-Backs Tango is not far behind. A little further down Gowen's Towplane & Glider track is also excellent, even if the sound is much perfectible. A bit lost on this album is Stewart and Gaskin's Starlight On Seaweed track, which dates from the 90's.

Even though the vast majority of this disc is nearing excellence (bar the odd glitch), as usual with Voiceprint, there are some flaws: why in the world did they not present the tracks in a chronological order is simply beyond me. And beside the questionable track succession is also the matter of the three tracks that might have been easily left out. But nevertheless, if you are a National Health fan, this album is more than likely indispensable for you,

Review by fuxi
3 stars I'm a massive Health fan, and OF QUEUES AND CURES is one of my all-time favourite albums, but I'd lie to you if I pretended I got a lot out of MISSING PIECES. I've owned the album for about eight years, and each time I play it, I get annoyed because it's really nothing but a collection of bits that don't add up. Instead of proper compositions, you get a lot of passages where the band seem to be modulating between one (absent) track and another. I tend to despise the usual cloth-eared nincompoops' complaints that progressive rock is nothing but 'noodling', but for once such remarks might seem appropriate. Of course you could look at the music in a positive light and admit none of this music was meant to be released... This is an album of chippings from the artists' work desk... Proper songs that are still under development. With a little goodwill, you might even admit that 'Paracelsus' and 'Lethargy Shuffle 2' are admirable and adventurous tunes indeed. On some of the other tracks ('Zabaglione' for example) Phil Miller's occasional guitar interventions do sound powerful. Moreover, Amanda Parsons' singing on 'Clocks and Clouds' is a delight, and none other than Bill Bruford provides razor- sharp drumming on most of this music. And if all this weren't enough, you'll even get to hear one amazing Canadian audience give a 30- second performance of the immortal 'Phlakaton'. Hey, I'm feeling better about the album already! So let's just sum up: undeniable historical importance; perfectly clear sound; a lot of unfinished pieces; and a few enchanting moments.
Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars All of these tracks were played live in front of an audience at some point by the early incarnation of NATIONAL HEALTH. Or as Dave Stewart says it "All were played live in front of the bearded and great-coated audiences of the day(and that was just the women)". These guys have such a great sense of humour. I love the picture of the band they put up here at Prog Archives next to their bio. Priceless. Anyway NATIONAL HEALTH's original lineup consisted of 2 lead guitarists', 2 keyboardists',1 bass player,1 vocalist and 1 drummer. They were very much a coming together of two bands, namely GILGAMESH and HATFIELD AND THE NORTH. The band had a hard time getting a record deal, because by this time in the seventies progressive music had become unfashionable. So some of the members who started out with the band left to do other things. Mont Campbell who was with Dave Stewart and Steve Hillage in the late sixties with the psychedelic band ARZACHEL wrote some of the key songs that are found here on this record. He also wrote most of the compositions for the band EGG. Talented man. Bill Bruford couldn't wait any longer and so left before the first official NATIONAL HEALTH album was recorded. The same with Steve Hillage and Phil Lee. I feel like a proud father when I talk about each of the members here, and Dave Stewart and the late Alan Gowen are the two that make me the proudest. Of course we have Phil Miller, Amanda Parsons, Pip Pyle, Neil Murray and John Greaves here as well. The songs here are either demos or from radio sessions. They were never properly mastered for album release, although i found the sound to be fine.

"Bouree" is a short french horn piece that Dave Stewart says deliberately sets out to ridicule classical harmony, the performers and the audience. Funny. "Paracelsus" was recorded for radio in 1976. Hillage and Miller on lead guitars.This is an excellent track that opens with liquid sounding keys, light drums from Bruford and guitar. Lots of intricate sounds fill the air until a calm falls before 2 minutes. It lasts for a minute when some great drumming and guitar follows. Just a beautiful track. "Clocks And Clouds" is my favourite song on here. Amanda's ethereal vocals along with the gorgeous keyboard play that is so tasteful is beyond words. Some guitar before 2 minutes, and check out Neil Murray's bass lines on his only appearance on this album. He played with early GILGAMESH and later with BLACK SABBATH. More guitar 5 1/2 minutes in. Just a wondrous Dave Stewart song. "Agrippa" is a restrained song with little in the way of melody really. I like it a lot though. It does have an underlying power about it. Campell said "it was difficult to get him(Bruford) to play randomly-he always wanted to play in time". "The Lethargy Shuffle & The Mind- Your-Backs Tango" is an uptempo keyboard led tune. The two Phils' are on guitars and make their presence known a minute in. A calm follows. Nice. The song slowly picks back up. The keys and organ get quite loud 6 1/2 minutes in. Nice beat 2 minutes later. Another great Stewart track. "Zabaglione" is a Campell composition, and as Stewart says it was almost a competition between him and Campbell to see who could write the most complex songs. Stewart says Mont won hands down with this track. A nice rhythm to this one. Pulsating keys before it starts to get intense. A keyboard flury follows. Amanda chips in with some vocal melodies 3 1/2 minutes in. Check out the incredible melody after 4 minutes. Amazing stuff. Some excellent guitar work from Lee & Miller. Vocal melodies are back. Nice. Great song.

"Lethargy Shuffle Part 2" is a jazzy little number as keys, bass, guitar and cymbals come and go. "Croquette For Electronic Beating Group" was NATIONAL HEALTH's first ever recording. A Campbell song. Pip's on drums here. Lots of keys, guitar and light drums. "Phlakaton" is a Pip song that ended up on "Of Queues & Cures". Here it is performed by the audience in Toronto, when they finish one of the band members tells them "You know it took us 3 weeks to record that"'. "The Towplane & The Glider" is the only Gowen song on here, and it is not surprising that it is filled with a collage of intricate sounds. One of my favourites. The guitar and keys are fantastic. The guitar even gets a little aggressive 3 minutes in. Not sure if it's Miller or Lee. "Starlight On Seaweed" is a Campbell tune performed by Stewart and his partner on vocals Barbara Gaskin. Lots of synths. This is actually quite dark and atmospheric. "Walking The Dog(extract)" was added by Stewart really in honour of Gowen. It's a very short live(New York) song with Alan saying "It's free with National Health". Greaves is on bass here.

I wouldn't be without this excellent compilation. To have recordings of NATIONAL HEALTH with Bruford and Hillage is very cool.This surpassed my expectations. This is a piece of history really.

Review by Warthur
4 stars An enormously exciting archival release from National Health, and an excellent complement to the studio albums (or the Complete collection). All but three of the tracks on this album are recordings from when Egg's Mont Campbell was part of the band - before the debut album, which was recorded after Mont decided to quit the group due to being reminded of how much he disliked the touring life. Even more excitingly, most of these tracks include Bill Bruford during his brief stint on the drums - a favour Dave Stewart would later replay by playing keys on Bruford's solo albums from Feels Good to Me to Gradually Going Tornado.

The Mont tracks on here are a real treasure trove of musical pieces, none of which made it onto later albums (aside from a brief extract of Paracelsus that appeared at the start of the Complete compilation). The amount of material here effectively constitutes an entire "great lost National Health album", and whilst I wouldn't rank it quite as highly as their first two studio albums, that's only because the production is sometimes a little ropey (though still very, very good for demo recordings - the songs sound more like proper recordings than demos most of the time).

The three remaining songs consist of two novelty numbers - a spontaneous audience performance of Phlakaton, the "a capella drum solo" from Of Queues and Cures, to which the band react with amazement and delight, and a brief extract of Walking the Dog, a classic R&B number played as an encore at some gigs - and Starlight on Seaweed, a rerecording by Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin of a Mont-era song of which no acceptable recording exists. The gag tracks are fun and Starlight on Seaweed is pretty enough, but on the whole these are best regarded as bonus tracks: the real meat of the album is the recordings from Mont's tenure in the band.

This set (coming with more hilarious liner notes from Dave Stewart in the vein of his commentary from the Complete booklet) is a crucial insight into a pivotal moment of the Canterbury scene, since the musical collaborations recorded here not only set National Health on the part to greatness but also led to the formation of Bruford's early solo band. In other words, it represents the roots of not just one but two of the most important Canterbury groups of the late 1970s. Nobody with an interest in the genre should pass up this golden opportunity, though I suppose if you can't stand National Health's major albums (the debut and Of Queues and Cures) this material won't change your mind.

Latest members reviews

3 stars The second curios collection with National Health. National Health's first two album is classics and pillars in the Canterbury scene and the British prog rock scene. Unfortunate, the band only released three studio albums and the third one after their demise. So we have to feed of scraps and le ... (read more)

Report this review (#581359) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Saturday, December 3, 2011 | Review Permanlink

2 stars When any band builds up an appreciable fan base, there often comes a demand for an archive release like this. An "Odd and Sods" sort will eventually pop up in a group's discography either to combat bootleggers, fulfill the purpose of a metaphorical bone for the hardcore doggies, or simply net ... (read more)

Report this review (#291336) | Posted by LionRocker | Wednesday, July 21, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Despite some differences, National Health is often regarded as the logical successor of Hatfield and the North, allthough Hatfield ceased to be in 1975 and National Health only released their self-titled debut album two years later, after having had several changes in their line-up. 'Missing Pie ... (read more)

Report this review (#152859) | Posted by Paul de Graaf | Monday, November 26, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Work of astonishment that collects initial album uncollection works. It is valuable material of the Canterbury jazz-rock. Humorous, intellectual music by exact calculation and rich music sense. It is a content to make it actually feel that NATHONAL HEALTH is a group in the top of the Canterbur ... (read more)

Report this review (#43185) | Posted by braindamage | Wednesday, August 17, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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