NATIONAL HEALTH — Of Queues and Cures (review)

NATIONAL HEALTH — Of Queues and Cures album cover Album · 1978 · Jazz Related Rock Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
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.
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