National Health - Missing Pieces

Year of Release: 1994
Label: East Side Digital
Catalog Number: ESD 81172
Format: CD
Total Time: 56:25:00

Mastered from first generation tapes, what you get here are demos and radio sessions that in the end never made it onto an official National Health release. So expect the odd "bum" note as we filter through the dusty archives in order to deliver a complete picture for the true fan of the Canterbury scene in which National Health plays a very important role indeed. Needless to say the Fender Rhodes electric piano will be all over the place regardless of the line-up. Maybe in memory of the late Alan Gowen who passed away twenty years ago this year from leukaemia in 1981, here's a view of the band's leftovers. From a band which one time or another included the likes of Bill Bruford, Amanda Parsons, Phil Miller, Pip Pyle, John Greaves, Steve Hillage, Neil Murray, Mont Campbell and Dave Stewart now comes this collection of twelve previously unreleased cuts from one of the most remarkable British outfits.

Opener "Bourée" is there to ridicule the rules of classical harmony. Re-scored for five French horns it sounds very much like the Salvation Army after their final drink on Christmas Eve. The true National Health shines in all its glory during "Paracelsus" which was recorded for a radio session way back in '76. The organ towards the end even sounds close to The Nice. Never knew how close Amanda Parsons came to be a clone for Annie Haslam but in "Clocks And Clouds" she illustrates how well her voice could have suited another Renaissance line-up. Kind of "twist on acid," "The Lethargy Shuffle & The Mind Your Backs Tango" is the band's aim to create danceable music around the immortal Hammond L122 organ. "Zabaglione" was the result of trying to write the most complicated stuff, which compared to a lot of contemporary weirdness sounds rather tame to me.

With tapes which had begun to disintegrate, "Croquette For Electronic Beating Group" is a very important piece because not only was it Mont's very first composition but also the band's first ever recording. It also features the pre-Bruford line-up with Pip Pyle on drums. The 22 minutes worth of "Phlakaton" perfectly illustrates the Monty Python attitude within the band. Although the music always sounds very complex and difficult it is always executed tongue-in-cheek, as happened many times within the realm of the Canterbury scene. Dare we say National Health was the British answer to Zappa?

Because on the only existing recording the audience chat was five times louder than the music, Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin re-recorded "Starlight On Seaweed," one of Mont's "artier" pieces. The album stops with a snippet of a live rendition of "Walking The Dog" recorded moons ago in New York. Fans of Hatfield and the North and Egg will certainly welcome this collection of rare material, warts-and-all, even if at times the quality isn't impressive. After all, old paintings have often been welcomed with open arms even if some parts were missing, yet this CD offers you the Missing Pieces.

Bourée / Paracelsus£ / Clocks And Clouds£ / Agrippa£ / The Lethargy Shuffle & The Mind-Your-Backs Tango$ / Zabaglione$ / Lethargy Shuffle Part 2 £ / Croquette For Electronic Beating Group* / Phlakaton / The Towplane & The Glider$ / Starlight On Seaweed@/ Walking The Dog (Extract)#

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

National Health (1978)
Of Queues And Cures (1978)
D.S. Al Coda (1982)
Missing Pieces (1994)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: August 2nd 2001
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website:
Hits: 849
Language: english


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