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The Blue Nile


Country of origin:

Scotland

Type of music generally:

Quiet alternative pop

Status:

Most recent release, High (2004)

See also:

The Blue Nile's site

Wikipedia's entry for The Blue Nile'

Comparisons:

Jane Siberry, Jeff Buckley, David Byrne

Covers/own material:

Own

General comments:

Unique material from a band that only releases once every 5-6 years.... The Blue Nile is a three piece, consisting of Paul Buchanan (vocals), Paul Moore & Robert Bell. They debuted in 1981 with the rather obscure single 'I love this life', a nice track to play when you're happy, by the way. Released on RSO records, this single is now nearly impossible to find. The track is typical synthpop in a style similar to Depeche Mode at that time.
     The album A walk across the rooftops was released in 1984, which was not a natural progression: the synthesizers were still there, but any beat to be found in 'I love this life' had gone. The sounds were very weird and the songs often very silent. The somewhat sad vocals of Paul carried the whole album, and the best-known track 'Tinseltown in the rain' became a classic almost instantly. Two tracks were released on single: First 'Stay', then 'Tinseltown'. The latter had some chart success, and the former was then re-released in the UK. (I don't know if it became a hit that time). Here in Holland, 'Tinseltown' went into the charts 6 months after its release. The 12' of 'Tinseltown' features a beautiful ballad called 'Regret'; the saddest song I know. Sadly, it was never released on any CD as far as I know.
     They took an incredible five years to make Hats, another collection of beautiful, quiet songs, although these particular seven tracks were, in my opinion at least, more 'filled', and overall had a more textured feel to them. 'The downtown lights', the first single of Hats, was covered by Annie Lennox on her Medusa album. The original is better! This single, and the other two releases 'Headlights on the parade' and 'Saturday night', never ended up in the charts, but they did bring us, the humble audience, some extra tracks: 'The wires are down' (another sad song, featuring the beautiful reflection: 'Even the wires are down'), 'Easter parade', a version of the track from their first album, now sung with Rickie Lee Jones, and an instrumental piece called 'Our lives'.
     All the songs they released are great stuff for hot summer nights and relaxation. It is not new age, but it is nice, calm music.
     In recent years they collaborated with Maire Brennan ('Big yellow taxi', on Misty eyed adventures) and Annie Lennox ('The gift', on Diva).
     If you are looking for great music, you have to buy the Blue Nile. This is the sort of music that showcases the abilities of the Compact Disc medium at its best! (marcel@kimwilde.com)

This would definitely be ectofodder. Great music, and wonderful lyrics. (Matt.Bittner)

Emotional power of voice and music comparable to Jane Siberry or Jeff Buckley. A beautiful, beautiful, beautiful voice. Kind of a cross between David Byrne and Jane Siberry. (lissener@wwa.com)

It amazes me how few people on the Ecto list mention The Blue Nile, as I cannot think of how a male artists/group could be *more* ecto-ish. Examples:
     1. Beautiful, emotive, detailed synthetic backdrops.
     2. Gorgeous, heartfelt singing.
     3. Very cohesive albums.
     4. Unbearably long gaps between albums (who does This sound liKe?).
     They've also worked with Rickie Lee Jones, and have been covered by Annie Lennox. How much more ectocentric can you get and be completely unacknowledged by Ecto? How can Ectophiles *not* know and love "Tinseltown In The Rain", or "The Downtown Lights", or "Saturday Night"?
     The Jane Siberry comparison is spot on. To everyone who loves The Speckless Sky, *run* and buy Hats or A Walk Across The Rooftops. (afinney@ozonline.com.au)

Recommended first album:

Hats is the most accessible. (marcel@kimwilde.com)

Recordings:


A Walk Across the Rooftops

Release info:

1984—Linn Records—LKHCD 1 (U.K.)

Availability:

Wide in Europe

Ecto priority:

Essential music for those who appreciate silence in the music, great music to test out what CD's can do, too....

Group members:

Paul Buchanan, Robert Bell, Paul Joseph Moore

Produced by:

The Blue Nile

Comments:

These are the guys that make me fall prey to Empty Wallet Syndrome. I used to be a reasonable person and buy a record only after hearing a cut or two, but I read a review of A walk across the rooftops, thought: sounds good, and was so swept away by it that I bought scads of copies for presents that year. (pas@MATH.AMS.ORG)

Hats

Release info:

1989—Linn Records (Virgin)—LKHCD 2 (U.K.)

Availability:

Wide in Europe

Ecto priority:

Essential music for those who appreciate silence in the music, great music to test out what CD's can do, too....

Group members:

Paul Buchanan, Robert Bell, Paul Joseph Moore

Produced by:

The Blue Nile

Comments:

i thought Hats was pretty good, though a bit dated ('80s sounding with all the casio synthesizers...sort of in the same vein as Jane Siberry's No Borders Here album, good, but dated). (iflin@speakeasy.net)

High

Release info:

2004—Sanctuary Records—SANCD285; Epstein Records—06076-86368-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Paul Buchanan, Robert Bell, Paul Joseph Moore

Produced by:

The Blue Nile

Comments:

High, the new album, will not surprise existing Blue Nile fans much, as the band shows no particular inclination to alter their basic style, or even their drum machines, in any significant way. I'd say that each of their four albums is slightly more open and organic than the previous ones, which at this rate means that around the year 2342 they'll reproduce the first Hothouse Flowers album... (glenn@furia.com)

I'm not familiar with The Blue Nile's previous albums, but I absolutely love High. It has an emotional resonance for me that few albums I've heard recently match. It's partly because of the lyrics (there's a lot of aching, nostalgia, growing older, longing. The characters of the songs all seem to be missing something). But I think it's mostly Paul Buchanan's emotive vocals and the electronic background that supports but never overwhelms them. (JoAnn Whetsell)


Thanks to JoAnn Whetsell and Marcel Rijs for work on this entry.

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DISCLAIMER: Comments and reviews in the Ectophiles' Guide are excerpted from the ecto mailing list or volunteered by members of the list. They are the opinions of music enthusiasts, not professional music critics.

Entry last updated 2012-02-19 15:09:22.
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