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.