National Health — D.S. al Coda
(Blueprint BP129CD, 1982/2001, CD)
by Dan Casey, Published 1996-03-01
After passing away in May of 1981, Alan Gowen's last band National Health went on to record this, their third album, comprised entirely of material Alan had put to paper but never recorded. The remaining band was Phil Miller (guitar), Dave Stewart (keyboards), John Greaves (bass), and Pip Pyle (drums). Several notable guests appear as well, including Amanda Parsons (Hatfield and the North), Barbara Gaskin (who's been working with Stewart ever since), Jimmy Hastings (Caravan), and Richard Sinclair (Caravan). Musically, the album doesn't quite measure up to the previous two National Health releases, but that is largely due to the times and technology and not the songwriting. Although the material is perhaps jazzier than ever before, it is still firmly rooted in the bittersweet Canterbury style. Some of the instrumentation makes certain tracks hard to bear — cheesy early-80s synths, primitive electronic drums, poor horn arrangements, etc., but several standout tracks (like "Toad of Toad Hall," "Portrait of a Shrinking Man," and "Shining Water") make the album worth owning, especially for Canterbury freaks. While this reissue is adeqaute in and of itself, a better choice would be National Health Complete, a 2CD set containing all three albums in their entirety with some bonus tracks.
There's No Time Like the Present – The Belgian band Present has been one of the best avant-rock bands in the world since its formation in 1979. Over the years since then, Present has released nine amazing albums, and now they're ready to start work on number ten. They're looking for some financial help from their fans around the world. » Read more
Ginger Baker RIP – Legendary English drummer Ginger Baker has died at the age of 80. After coming to fame with Cream in the 60s alongside Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce, he became one of the most recognized and influential drummers of the rock era. On September 25, his family announced that he was critically ill, and on October 6 his death was confirmed. » Read more
Alex's Hand Seeks Spa Treatment – American / European band Alex's Hand has a new album in the works called Hungarian Spa, which looks to be their biggest and best yet, featuring a large roster of guest musicians. They're seeking funding to take the project on the road, and are looking for help from the crowd of wisdom. » Read more