The Blue Nile – High

It's a well known story but for those who weren't paying attention I'll briefly summarise the tale for you. In 1984 three young Glaswegians who called themselves The Blue Nile released an l.p. on Scottish hi fi company Linn's record label that chiefly existed to promote the quality of their equipment.

A Walk Across The Rooftops became a bit of a cult classic so a quick follow up on a larger label with more promotional muscle was expected. However it was another five years before the follow up Hats was released, again to worldwide acclaim but with the world at their feet they decided to disappear again, for six years this time before the less anticipated Peace At Last came out. Apparently they were ready with an album three years ago but, perfectionists that they are they scrapped it, so now its eight years on and when most imagined they'd given up, a new Blue Nile CD has appeared.

Don't expect any Bowie or Radiohead like reinventions, c'mon it's The Blue Nile, so you get what you expected namely writer Paul Buchanan's gorgeous almost spoken vocals, largely slow melancholic tunes led by either piano or guitar and an understated production that begins to reveal itself on repeated plays.

Opener Days Of Our Lives is instantaneously recognisable as The Blue Nile and deals with lifestyle stagnation a recurring theme throughout the album. First single I Would Neve r is next. It has a gospel feel reminiscent of U2's I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For and is followed by Broken Loves which creates an edgy imagery of a dead end love affair, driven by an insistent piano motif.

Buchanan has stated that he has never been to Toledo , Ohio but that Because Of Toledo came about from an overheard conversation in a cafe during his sojourn in California in the 90's. It's a beautiful, simple melody starting on a lone acoustic guitar. It was during this spell that he dated actress Rosanna Arquette, who could be a possible source of the girl trouble documented in the lyrics despite the fact Buchanan have been back in Glasgow for a while now.

The most upbeat track musically, on the disc is She Saw The World but lyrically it maintains the wistful theme of reflectance on a collapsing relationship. The slow moving title track is another highlight with similar lyrical insight.

The only track previously released is Soul Boy which appeared in a radically different version on ex Spice Girl Melanie Chisholm's Reason album last year. It's another slow burner in keeping with much of the rest of what is a very cohesive album overall.

Calum Malcolm is at the helm for production duties as on previous Nile releases and creates a late night atmosphere similar to that of Hats . Initially sounding bare but with deeper investigation showing that more is going on there than you first imagined. Synthesisers are used with uncommon tastefulness to colour the sound and as on their other releases a drum machine provides percussion which can occasionally grate.

It should be noted that despite absolutely no mention in the packaging this disc that some copies of this disc are heavily copyright protected and will not play on a pc.

© Gordon Russell