CD National Health (CD 4675465),
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National Health

  • 1. Thermos Roads
    2. Brujo
    3. Borogoves, Pt. 2
    4. Borogoves, Pt. 1
    5. Elephants
  • Additional Info
    Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 2129

  • Credits

    The first National Health album couldn't have come at a worse time, just when punk and new wave were the musical orders of the day. Of course, in many ways it did itself no favors. This swan song of the fecund Canterbury Scene is ultra-serious, and determined to show its musical prowess by frequent, complex changes of time signature, dense, convoluted arrangements, and frightening technical ability. In that regard, really, it differed from the main ethos of Canterbury prog rock and fusion, which had offered a whimsical, often surreal hippie vision of the world, never taking itself too seriously (if you like, its antecedent was really an earlier group of keyboard player Dave Stewart, Egg). Because of its attitude, the opening epic, "Tenemos Roads," stands head and shoulders above the rest of the disc, suffused with both light and space, and lifting into a breathless atmosphere when singer Amanda Parsons enters. Melody is the key, and the track has plenty of them, mostly from Stewart and keyboard "guest" (and former member) Alan Gowen, who also shares compositional credits for much of the disc. From there, however, it's pretty much all downhill. There's still exceptional playing, but it seems more like the members saying "this is what we can do" rather than setting out to entertain and enthrall; in others words, it's very self-indulgent, rarely more so than on the dark "Elephants." "Brujo" has moments of hope, but in the main this is a band that -- however good -- sadly already sound past their sell-by date. ~ Chris Nickson

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