National Health Toronto November 1979

National Health – Toronto, Ontario (Canada), The Edge – 11 November 1979

This bootleg recording from National Health’s 1979 North American tour has special significance for me. Not only is it one of the best sounding of the available ones, and a great performance to boot, but it’s also the first NH bootleg I ever laid my hands on, in the very early 1990s. I had come across an ad from a US-based collector whose list of prized possessions included this, and although he insisted that he was only interested in trading, not selling, I had nothing to trade it against, so wrote to him with enough dollar bills in the envelope to cover the cost of tapes and postage. I did receive the tapes back, albeit with a letter explaining that he was pissed off with me for disregarding the rule he’d set, but despite a modicum of guilt I was very happy with myself – and with the tape, which turned out to be a revelation. This gig has since became legendary for a relatively minor event that happens at one point – when a group of audience members unexpectedly launch into a rendition of Pip’s “vocal drum solo” from “Of Queues and Cures”. This, the only known live performance (by anyone) of “Phlakaton”, rightfully earned its place on the archive collection “Missing Pieces”, although who the performers were, and what the back story of them learning this fiendishly complex bit of “vocal drumming” was, remains unknown (if you know more, please use the comments section below). Other than that, this is the usual setlist for this tour, but an outstanding performance and, we hope, listen!

Download – 141 MB

Phil Miller – guitar
Alan Gowen – electric piano, synth
John Greaves – bass, crooning
Pip Pyle – drums

6 thoughts

  1. Just curious and apologies if it is a stupid question – but which member of the band makes the introductory comments on the first track?

  2. I was there to catch the matinee performance and there were only 2 handful’s of people there to enjoy. Gave me a chance to meet Pip. Lovely funny man. This recording has a great balance of the band but obviously missing lows and hi’s in the recording. Did the band have a audio tech to mix or record any shows on that tour? Was this just good mic placement by the recordist or is there some board mix involved. I know the room was small and full PA systems were almost non-existed then in clubs. Anyway I’m thankful I got to see Phil perform and the band was in great form there.

  3. I do believe that the second version of Phlakaton here (“intro”) is from my incomplete audience recording. Alan’s Mini-Moog playing on Nowadays a Silhouette is one of the most beautiful things I have heard.

      1. I do indeed, and you sent the remainder of the set in return, for which I am eternally grateful!!


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