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National Health

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National Health were one of those rare English progressive bands whose classic mid-'70s output still sounds fresh today. Their sound prospered on imaginative linear musicality, often in a jazzy format that emphasized extended instrumental solos. Arising during a challenging time when progressive rock was being overtaken by a tidal wave of punk, National Health featured members of other Canterbury and post-Canterbury bands Hatfield and the North (a band considered a Canterbury supergroup in itself), Gilgamesh, and Henry Cow. After the release of 1977's debut album National Health and 1978's sophomore Of Queues and Cures, the group issued 1982's D.S. Al Coda -- an homage to keyboardist Alan Gowen, who died of leukemia in May 1981 -- and then fell silent as its members pursued other ventures. The overview Complete appeared in 1990; Missing Pieces, a collection of recordings from the earliest incarnations of the group that never saw the light of day during the band's existence, followed in 1996. In 2000, Cuneiform issued a live album, Playtime, which was recorded at two different shows in 1979 and sequenced and mastered in 2000 by Phil Miller and Pip Pyle as a tribute to Gowen. ~ Myles Boisen & Dave Lynch

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Years Active:

'70s, '80s