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National Health were a progressive rock band associated with the Canterbury scene. Founded in 1975, the band included members of keyboardist Dave Stewart's band Hatfield and the North and Alan Gowen's band Gilgamesh, the band also included guitarists Phil Miller and Phil Lee and bassist Mont Campbell as original members. The band was named after Stewart's National Health glasses. Bill Bruford (previously of Yes and King Crimson) was the initial drummer but was soon replaced by Pip Pyle. Campbell was replaced by Neil Murray and then John Greaves. A frequently changing line-up, toured extensively and released their first album, National Health in 1977. Although it was created during the rise of Punk, the album is characterised by lengthy, mostly instrumental compositions. Their second record Of Queues and Cures, which included Peter Blegvad (recitation on "Squarer For Maud") and Georgie Born (cello), is currently held as the fourth best record ever (of read more...
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NATIONAL HEALTH albums / top albums

NATIONAL HEALTH National Health album cover 4.55 | 15 ratings
National Health
Jazz Related Rock 1978
NATIONAL HEALTH Of Queues and Cures album cover 4.61 | 14 ratings
Of Queues and Cures
Jazz Related Rock 1978
NATIONAL HEALTH D.S. al Coda album cover 3.14 | 5 ratings
D.S. al Coda
Jazz Related Rock 1982
NATIONAL HEALTH Missing Pieces album cover 3.95 | 4 ratings
Missing Pieces
Jazz Related Rock 1996



NATIONAL HEALTH Playtime album cover 4.00 | 4 ratings
Jazz Related Rock 2001

NATIONAL HEALTH demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

NATIONAL HEALTH re-issues & compilations

NATIONAL HEALTH Complete album cover 3.75 | 2 ratings
Jazz Related Rock 1990
NATIONAL HEALTH Dreams Wide Awake album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Dreams Wide Awake
Jazz Related Rock 2005


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Album · 1978 · Jazz Related Rock
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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.

NATIONAL HEALTH Of Queues and Cures

Album · 1978 · Jazz Related Rock
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siLLy puPPy
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.


Live album · 2001 · Jazz Related Rock
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Sean Trane
The always-excellent Cuneiform label unearthed yet another “archives” gem with these cncert tapes coming from two different gigs in 79, that took place a few months apart and on two different continents. The main difference would be that in the French, .NH appeared as a double-guitar quintet (Eckert being the other string-scratcher), while on the United Statian gig, the group performed with a more standard quartet; While Pyle, Greaves and Miller where the usual members, Alan Gowen replaces the recently-departed Dave Stewart, but alas, some sad event would prevent the new kb-man to continue, thus more or less killing the band’s impetus despite the DS Al Coda release in his honour a few years later.

While the French concert went down rather well (with the help of the afore-mentioned Eckert) , starting with the energetic16-mins Flanagan’s People; a steaming Canterbury-tinged jazz-rock piece that will set fire to any lake around the place, it held some relatively calmer moments like the almost-boring (by NH standards, of course) Silhouette. Although the Dreams Wide Awake piece opens on Mahavishnu-level energy, it tends to veer later-70’s fusion with a certain Brand X-type of virtuosity, loosing in soul what it gains in notes/seconds. They closed the set with the sleepy (for them) Pleiades, where Miller (I think) plays a few Greek chords.

The Pennsylvania concert is more exciting, opening on two short tracks, including the short but sung (courtesy of John Greaves) Rose Sob before plunging in a fuzzed-bass extravaganza at the start of the 10-mins Playtime (a Gowen piece). The closing two-parts (roughly 13-mins) Squarer For Maud is the cloud u spectacle, with some demented playing from all concerned, but again, it seems that Greaves was the louder and crazier dude that night. The last ten minutes are pure bliss and chaos, where Phil Miller pulls some wild solos. In both concerts, it’s clear that they focused more on the Queues & Cures album than the debut.

If only for the lengthy booklet, filled with extesive liner notes from Mr Pyle, Playtime is an essential release to own if you’re a NH fan, and you enjoy the “jammier” side of the band. One of the joys I had once I’d bought the present album upon release time, was to rediscover Miller’s fiery guitar sound, which contrast fairly heavily with his In Cahoots stuff or even his Hatfield reformation days during the 00’s. On the downside, by 79, NH sounded much more like a later-70’s band ala Brand X or Return To Forever, rather its more Canterburyan earlier incarnations, but we’ll not nitpick too much and just enjoy this little gem, courtesy of Feigelbaum and Aymeric.


Album · 1982 · Jazz Related Rock
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Just as one of Dave Stewart's previous bands, Egg, regrouped to produce a reunion album a couple of years after they split up, so too did National Heath come together once more - although this time for a much sadder occasion, to commemorate the passing of Alan Gowen by recording a number of his compositions.

Not only is this a somewhat jazzier album than previous National Health elements, but it is also a bit more diverse in terms of style and arrangement, possibly because some of these tunes had originally been devised for Gowan's own band, Gilgamesh (Arriving Twice and TNTFX), some had debuted on National Health's 1979 US tour, which had occurred after Dave Stewart had left and Gowan had rejoined (another, longer version of Flanagan's People can be found on the Playtime archival release from Cuneiform), and some were solo compositions; furthermore, some work had to be done finishing arrangements on those tunes which Gowan himself hadn't fully completed.

As a result, D.S. al Coda is slightly inconsistent in terms of style; some tracks, like the opening Portrait of a Shrinking Man, display a very 80s, up-to-date arrangement, which unfortunately has dated poorly (especially the keyboards and drums). Others, such as Toad of Toad Hall, could have appeared on any classic Gilgamesh or National Health album of the previous decade. I assume that this was at least somewhat intentional on the part of the musicians involved; this album, after all, was meant to provide a broad overview of Alan as a composer. It does, however, mean that the album seems a little disjointed, although many of the individual tracks are excellent. Most National Health or Gilgamesh fans will want to get this sooner or later, but those new to either band may want to wait a while before picking this up. (Then again, one of the best introductions to National Health is the Complete compilation of all three studio albums, including this one.) Do give it a try sooner or later, though, and don't let yourself be put off by the 80s tone and production values of the first track.

NATIONAL HEALTH Of Queues and Cures

Album · 1978 · Jazz Related Rock
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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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