The Blue Nile is a Scottish band from Glasgow formed around the nucleus of Paul Buchanan and Robert Bell. Buchanan sort of reactivates his band when he feels like it and produces a record…once in a while (four LP’s since 1984). I remember having seen them in Paris at the Elysée Montmartre at the end of the 90’s in front of around 40 people, which is a shame as their music is one of the most beautiful I know. But no more past feelings, let’s stick to the rules of the “record-by-record” series and let’s listen with fresh ears!
“A Walk Across The Rooftops” (1984) : 7-track album where one can already find what makes The Blue Nile sound so typical : sparse, clean, 80’s sounding, quite poetic and overall in opposition to Paul Buchanan’s rough and sensual voice, as often found in Scottish bands (“white pop soul from the UK”). This is a very good introduction to greater things to come…if you are patient (8/10). Top tracks: “Tinseltown In The Rain”, “Stay” and “Easter Parade”.
“Hats” (1989). Very complicated task that of listening to this album as if it was the first time… Five years after their debut, The Blue Nile came back with this masterpiece, once more with seven tracks only but this time with a perfection in craftmanship. You will not find any acoustic sound on this record but there is much more warmth and humanity than if thousands of so-called from-the-heart singers. Never have I heard music giving in such a satisfactory way the 3 a.m. feeling where everything is depressing and lost but where there is hope to come too. Anyway, quite difficult to write down something objective and rational… If you do not know this record, buy it and it be a faithful companion forever (10/10). Top tracks: “The Downtown Lights”, “Let’s Go Out Tonight” and “Headlights On The Parade”.
“Peace at Last” (1996). Seven years to wait but really worth it. Of course, it is always a tricky task to go on making records when a band managed to produce a masterpiece such as “Hats” but this is a rewarding record as well. The band went on introducing new acoustic songs (a guitar here, a piano there) but still within this overall gloomy melancholic and synthetic sound which makes them so unique. Highly recommended (8.5/10). Top tracks: “Happiness”, “Sentimental Man” and the glorious “Family Life”.
“High” (2004). Ok, I will stop writing about the time spent between records… Not real surprise in this album which mixes basically “Peace at Last” sound and “Hats” lyrics and spleen. Nothing revolutionary as well but more the feeling one can have when having a drink with a friend not seen for many years: different but the same. We are now in 2011 and don’t you think it is time for fresh news Mr. Buchanan? (7.5/10). Top tracks: “I Would Never”, “She Saw The World” and “Stay Close”.