NATIONAL HEALTH — National Health

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NATIONAL HEALTH - National Health cover
4.55 | 15 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 1978

Tracklist

A1 Tenemos Roads 14:43
A2 Brujo 10:19
B1 Borogroves (Excerpt From Part Two) 4:16
B2 Borogroves (Part One) 6:37
B3 Elephants 14:37

Total Time: 50:01

Line-up/Musicians

Bass – Neil Murray
Drums – Pip Pyle
Flute – Jimmy Hastings
Guitar – Phil Miller
Organ, Piano, Electric Piano – Dave Stewart
Synthesizer [Moog], Electric Piano – Alan Gowen
Vocals – Amanda Parsons
Bass Clarinet – Jimmy Hastings (track A1)
Clavinet – Dave Stewart (tracks A1,B1,B2)
Cowbell, Tambourine, Gong – Pip Pyle (track A1)
Percussion [Temple Blocks, Guava] – John Mitchell (tracks A1,A2)
Glockenspiel, Shaker, Bells, Cymbal [Finger Cymbals] – Pip Pyle (track A2)
Piano – Alan Gowen (tracks A2,B3)
Clarinet – Jimmy Hastings (tracks B1,B2)
Congas – John Mitchell (tracks B1,B2)
Effects [Synthi Hi-fli] – Nick Levitt(track B3)
Glockenspiel, Pixiephone, Engineer [Tape Edits] – Pip Pyle (track B3)

About this release

Affinity ‎– AFF 6(UK)

Recorded at the Point, Victoria, London 1977 on the Mobile Mobile.
Intro to 'Elephants' recorded live at the M.L.T.S., Tiel, Holland 14/2/77

Thanks to snobb for the updates

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siLLy puPPy
The quintessential high note of the whole Canterbury scene and another one of those touched by God albums that transcends sonic believability into an alternate reality where only heavenly bliss is allowed. Like Hatfield and the North, this was a Canterbury supergroup with a whole bunch of veterans dishing out some delicious jazz fusion and prog frenzied musical madness that takes all the lessons of their previous incarnations and melds them into one outbloodyrageous display of what it sounds like when the best of the best collaborate their talents to make a masterpiece. This was 1977 when prog was on its way out to take a siesta and punk was the new dominate species. Not only was NATIONAL HEALTH totally oblivious to this trend but they took the sound to new roaring heights.

Let's take a roll call as I see so many mistaken claims of who's actually on this debut album.

Original member Dave Stewart handles most keyboards. He obviously played in Hatfield and the North but also with Uriel, Egg, Khan and Bruford (the band for which Bill Bruford was the leader).

Alan Gowen of Gilgamesh who formed National Health also contributes to keyboards to a few tracks on this album but soon left the group thereafter.

Neil Murray handles all bass duties. He played with a bunch of different groups but is most famous for playing with Black Sabbath in the 90s, Whitesnake in the late 70s and with other bands like Gogmagog, Vow Wow, The Company Of Snakes etc.

This group originally began with Bill Bruford from Yes, but he is not on this album. He was replaced by Pip Pyle who worked with both Gong and Hatfield and the North and he alone handles all percussion on this album including drums, gong, tambourine, glockenspiel, cymbals and even a pixiephone! John Mitchell who replaced Bruford was replaced by Pip but he still contributes some percussion on a few tracks.

Phil Miller handles all guitar duties. He worked with many bands including Delivery, Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, Short Wave and In Cahoots.

Jimmy Hastings handles flute, clarinet and bass clarinet duties. He played in not only Hatfield and the North but also in Caravan, Soft Machine, Trapeze and with Chris Squire and Bryan Ferry amongst others.

That leaves the precious angelic voice of Amanda Parsons who makes the association with Hatfield and the North immediate and tangible. Her contribution to these albums elevates the ingenious musicianship to heavenly and otherworldly.

In my opinion NATIONAL HEALTH was not only the best Canterbury band but one of the best musical groups ever to grace the planet. The pleasant interplay of all the keyboards, the guitar and bass, the drum rolls and the exotic winds and chimes graced by the heavenly siren makes me quite grateful that these musicians were so dedicated to their craft that they paddled against the turning tide to create some of the most magnificent sonic bliss. Luckily we got another album after this.
Warthur
The only National Health album (excluding the tracks collected on Missing Pieces) to feature both Dave Stewart and Alan Gowen, the highlight of this piece is definitely the riotous interplay between their keyboards, as showcased on the tremendous Tenemos Roads. Arguably the most important Canterbury group of the punk era, National Health's lineup is as perfect an all-star Canterbury team as you could want to imagine, with every member having played in Canterbury groups ranging from the absolutely central to the maddeningly obscure.

A natural development from Hatfield and the North's albums (the lead vocals are even handled by former Northette Amanda Parsons), National Health also contains hints of Egg (in its driving rhythms and Dave Stewart's keyboard work) and the heavier side of Matching Mole (particularly Phil Miller's compositions from that band). Anyone who enjoys the fusion end of the Canterbury scene will absolutely love National Health, anyone who's at all interested in Canterbury should make a point of getting their albums since they represent the scene's last great flowering in the 1970s, and progressive rock and fusion fans in general will find a lot to love here.
Sean Trane
I bet more than one expecting fans got surprised by this release, promised for two years and never getting close to studios and shop. Indeed quite a lot of water went under the bridge from the formation of NH in late 75 as a sextet. With Bruford now gone and Campbell discouraged, both replaced, the two Gilgamesh members Gowan and Lee were also history, although the former is a guest on all tracks. Among the other guest are the frequent blows of Brother Jimmy Hastings, the percussions of John Mitchell and the vocals of ex-Northette Amanda Parsons. The latter is unfortunately the main flaw of this album (IMHO), because I find her voice particularly irksome especially in the aerial wordless scats that abound in the album. Coming with a typical semi-humoristic late 70’s-type of artwork depicting UK healthcare problems, the album holds four tracks over 10 mins+, even if Borogroves is divided in two movements, thus making indeed a fifth one.

Opening o the promising Tenemos Road, the group’s musical world clearly takes from where Hatfield (and Gilgamesh to a lesser extent) had left things off and everything is quite excellent until Parsons’ voice enters for thankfully-short interventions, but the track jumps hurdles effortlessly and gets back to typical Canterbury soundscapes. The following Brujos starts poorly at first (IMHO) and very slowly, Hastings’ delightful flute trading licks with Parsons’ almost Chinese-timbred voice, the track slowly gaining momentum until reaching an excellent funk groove where the two keyboards feud with the then-ala mode synth tones that haven’t aged that well, until Stewart returns to the fuzzed-out Hammond then Miller’s surprisingly (and short) heroic intervention. Then slowing down and returning on Parsons scats and a short rebuff to end the first side.

The flipside starts on the first part of Borogroves, which is part of the original second movement, while the second part was originally the first part….. you following me?? Doesn’t matter I’m not either ;o))), the first (or second, depending) movement is mostly an excuse for an excellent bass movement from Neil Murray where the rest of the band can show their chops. The closing monster track Elephants has some incredibly intense moments, but in general it follows the colour of the rest of the album, first with an ascending riff, then a funky groove and then a haunting piano riff that allows the group to strut their stuff without showing off, before Parsons returning with sung but unintelligible (and irritable) vocals. Elephants is a Gowan piece that he would eventually take with him in Soft Heap

While it was rather clear that this kind of ultra-technical jazz-rock’s heydays were long past, NH’s debut is still very much an excellent example of the genre, despite the irritating Par(kin)sons vocal effects. Definitely not a flawless albums and certainly no better than the two Hatfield albums despite increased individual virtuoso qualities, NH’s debut is the first album of Canterbury’s last legendary group (at least of the 70’s).

Ratings only

  • Decao
  • Phrank
  • Fant0mas
  • St Tree Fun
  • Vano
  • nebol
  • chrijom
  • Lynx33
  • BrainStillLife
  • Drummer
  • toitoi2
  • richby

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