NATIONAL HEALTH - Canterbury - prog -fusion - "!"            

National Health: Missing Pieces (CD, 56:27); ESD 1005, 1996 East Side Digital 530 North Third Street, Suite 230 Minneapolis, MN 55401 USA Ph: 612-375-0233, Fax: 612-359-9580 Email: Cyberhome: Ya know, ya just can't know about every group and be aware of each jot and tittle in the groups that come and go. Well, National Health was one of those groups that slipped by me. I heard other Canterbury incarnations and proggish rock bands that were related to National . . . but neither I nor friends "in the know" ever tipped me off to this truly fantastic group, and it took me until 1998 to "discover" them. After hearing Hatfield and the North's Rotters' Club, Stewart and Hillage in Khan's Space Shanty, Stewart and Bruford on Bruford's Feels Good to Me and One of a Kind -- Missing Pieces wasn't too much of a surprise. Now that I too know the joy of National Health, I need to sample Complete for sure! This "wrap-it-up" and "sweep-out-the-odd-tapes-closet" collection is actually full of gems rather than almost-made-its. This is great, great Canterbury instrumental music with dashes here and there of enchanting female vocals. There are dreamy, relaxing passages and high-energy virtuoso explosions on keys, guitars, bass, and drums. If you are an old National Health fan you need to have this release in your collection too. Keyboardists and guitarists, being Canterbury hip or not, will enjoy this intricately, complex amalgam of quirky vignettes and extended jams. There are demos takes from 1975, radio sessions recording from 1976, live gig recordings from 1979 and a cosmicky airy "bonus track" of Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin in the studio, a 1995 redo of an earlier crappy live recording. Stewart, Campbell, Gowen, Hillage, Miller, Bruford, Pyle, and more are all here doing their thing. Of all the scores of demos I receive for review, I must have played this one everyday for several months. Only three out of twelve tracks had noticeable source tape hiss but hey -- it is Missing Pieces. Highly, highly recommended with tons of extensive liner notes and delightful quips by Dave Stewart himself. ~ John W. Patterson TOP PICKS

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