on 29 November 2002
National Health was the natural successor to Hatfield & the North, consisting of key players from the latter band - Dave Stewart (keyboards), Phil Miller (guitar) & Pip Pyle (drums). This link is emphasised by the fact that Amanda Parsons (ex-Northette) sings on this eponymously-titled first album.
The opening track, "Tenemos Roads", is nearly 15 minutes of excellence with its convoluted but memorable melodies, and its typically quirky lyrics. There is a fitting reprise of its main melodic section towards the end of the album. The familiar Dave Stewart organ & piano sounds lead the charge, interspersed with equally recognisable Phil Miller guitar interludes. The dynamic structure of the piece is perfect, with skilful solos over driving riffs leading into wistful quiet sections, and out again into a sweet & rousing climax which repeats the opening section & adds an extra build-up to the explosive conclusion.
"Brujo" features some slick synthesiser solos (by Alan Gowen, I think - the sleeve notes are short on credits!) and veers from quiet meandering passages to Hatfield-like uptempo jazz/rock sections complete with unexpected stops & starts, and complicated vocal melodies immaculately performed by Amanda Parsons.
"Borogoves (excerpt from Part2)" follows, with a delightful typically Dave Stewart, opening motif. Then comes a Richard Sinclair-type fretless bass solo from (I think) Neil Murray. This gives way to a protracted funky section featuring a Phil Miller guitar solo which brings the track to an abrupt end.
"Borogoves (Part 1)" again opens with a memorable melody over strong chords from the overdriven keyboards, developing into a classical/jazz/rock section. This track is probably the most classically-influenced one of all on this album, in both structure & arrangement, with lots of dynamic changes & sonic shifts. Distinct echoes of Dave Stewart's former band, Egg, in places.
"Elephants" completes the album - another 15 minute tour-de-force. The strange sound effect at the beginning signals some of what is to come: an almost anarchic passage of music punctuated by an extraordinarily-convoluted guitar solo. However, it then settles into an extended jazz/rock section featuring a top-class synthesiser solo. A sudden shift to a short, humorous rock interlude paves the way to the "Tenemos Roads" reprise. But this isn't quite the end. There is another Hatfield-like addendum with Amanda Parsons singing & the ubiquitous Jimmy Hastings playing flute before the whole thing fades slowly & quietly into the ether.
on 8 November 2010
I would rate National Health amongst the very best bands I have ever heard and this disc is essential to anyone who has listened to the likes of Caravan, Soft Machine, Henry Cow , or Matching Mole. Where are the musicians like this today?
on 21 August 2012
One of my all time favorite Bands. This is more likely to be the Greatest Canterbury Prog album ,i did say Hatfield and The North The Rotters Club was ,but when Dave Stewart Took his Keyboard Genius from Hatfield and the North to National Health well i could be wrong. He has to be one of the most imaginative keyboards players ever he takes you to "Tenemos Roads" a Fantasy road leading to Tenemos a Fabulous city from E R Eddison Fantasy story "The Worm Ouroboros "(Brilliant)I dont want to comeback from this Trip,it is a Amazing piece of Music with Phil Millers Fluid Guitarscapes and Pip Pyles Crisp and Imaginative Drumming and Amanda Parsons Vocal are beautiful for this piece and then we set off for " Brujo" A Jazz/Rock Workout and then were back on the road to the Mimsey were the "Borogoves Part 2 and Borogoves Part 1" (there is more of Borogoves which did not fit on the album which can be heard Live)this is a Weird Creature from Lewis Carroll "Alice through the looking Glass" a quirky Haunting and Beguiling Piece and then finally to the last track to end this Fabulous Journey with" Elephants."
I THINK ITS HEAVEN.