In 1984, on the recommendation of a friend, I bought a CD by an unknown band. It was the first recording on the Linn label – a state-of-the-art audio equipment company who were experimenting with a foray into recording world. The album in question was A Walk Across The Rooftops by Scottish band The Blue Nile and was two years in the making. It was a revelation to me and I played it over and over again. 26 years on and I am still enjoying it.
This was a group that had clearly laboured over their work and along with Linn’s sonic engineers managed to take the recording to another level. In the quarter of a century since the release of that first album, The Blue Nile have only produced three further albums. For me each one has been a perfect realisation of this highly individual band’s musical philosophy and has always been well worth the wait. They seem to posses absolute integrity and creative sophistication in their output and have not been tempted by trappings or the stranglehold of the precarious pop jungle and its vacuous celebrity.
What distinguishes The Blue Nile is the stunning vocal dexterity and sincerity of lead singer/writer Paul Buchannan...
His voice has incredible range, pitch perfect, even in the vagaries of live performance. A soulful and heartbreakingly tender delivery with beautifully crafted lyrics and tightly knit musical ensemble working in total sympathy. Why this band has never made it on the world stage I will never know. But the selfish part of me is rather pleased. They do have a dedicated following of clandestine fans from within the music and creative industries. They are our best-kept secret. In their 26-year history, musical genres have come and gone but their work has transcended time and style and is unique like a classic piece of design.
In an age of instant gratification it is wonderful that The Blue Nile has stayed faithful to its beliefs. The work is of an exemplary standard with a distinct personality. For those of you that might be tempted by what I’ve had to say, bear in mind they are not instant candy, but an acquired taste. But the reward is well worth the effort. iTunes has an introductory compilation album on iTune Essentials. You can also view this little YouTube film here, made some years ago.