It’s taken acclaimed Glasgow band The Blue Nile six years to follow up their first LP. The List talks to their singer, Paul Buchanan, and also to Edinburgh bands The Indian Givers and The Syndicate, whose debut LPs have also just been released. See also the River Detectives review on page 42.

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Not every band could leave a six-year gap between their first and second albums, but The Blue Nile is not every band. Their first LP. A Walk Across the Rooftops. came as a breath of fresh air in 1983. its elegant ghostly textures attracting unqualifed praise and creating an instant following— but not a following that could be easily identified. They didn't proclaim their allegiance with new hairstyles or screaming T-shirts. They just welcomed A Walk Across the Rooftops into their lives. and waited for the next instalment. And waited. And waited. The last that was heard ofThe Blue Nile, before the trickle of rumours (they‘d completed two tracks; they‘d scrapped an entire album; the new album would be ready any day now; release was being held up until they‘d made a video), was the transcendent single ‘Tinseltown in the Rain'. which peaked at a frankly dismal 97 five years ago. The ensuing silence was broken only by a few

soundtracks, including the Halfway to Paradise theme. That didn‘t make Hats any less eagerly awaited.

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Hats should earn The Blue Nile undying respect for two reasons. First. they haven‘t changed a bit. In a business in which bands can change their image with every single to survive. this is to be admired in itself. Second. it‘s a phenomenally good record. easily surpassing its acclaimed predecessor.

Paul Buchanan. Paul Joseph Moore and Robert Bell The Blue Nile will not get recognised in Tesco’s the way they‘re going. Living in Glasgow and doing most of their work studio-bound in Edinburgh. they prefer to let the music speak for itself and stay anonymous a reassuring stance. and one that makes it easier to understand how they could work in the studio for great lengths of time. scrapping a multitude ofsongs on the way. and emerging only a few months ago. blinking like moles in the sunlight.

The promotion they have done for the album since then a handful of interviews, which will probably dry up soon to allow them to drop out of sight again has been. thinks singer Paul Buchanan. ‘good therapy".

‘Paul Moore and I went very briefly

on holiday to an island off the north of Holland.‘ he says. ‘and we couldn‘t work out why all these people were acting as if it was the middle ofsummer. But it was the middle ofsummer. ofcourse. It‘s a gradual reintroduction to real life.‘

The last five years have brought unspecified bad experiences. and long periods when they‘ve ‘agonised over why we couldn‘t do anything that absolutely chimed with our hearts‘. ‘lt wasn‘t until we hit the skids.’ admits Paul. ‘that we started to generate songs we believed in again’. and he sees Hats as representing the start ofan upward curve.

The pressures of following up an album as wildly-received as their first should not be forgotten either.

‘In a nice way I think we were ingenuous when we made the first record.‘ (Ili-fi giants Linn Products borrowed tapes from (‘astle Sound studio for experimenting on. and decided to start up a records division after hearing the trio's music.) ’We didn't have a record contract. and didn‘t really expect anything. and I think the nervousness that it induces

is that. although it's very flattering and gratifying. nevertheless you feel that it will swing against you the next time. or that you'll let people down. To some extent they maybe made us over-scrutinise what we were doing.‘

It‘s well known that The Blue Nile have a lot of time for soul music. Does Paul ever think of his group in those terms'.’

‘Yes. I suppose we all do.‘

Most British bands. I put it too him. adopt postures they've learnt from black music and force their own to fit it. Inevitably. they can end up ungainly and forced. I don't actually tell Paul I'm thinking ofThe Blue Nile here. though he knows it perfectly well. but a band sounds so much more convincing when the ‘soul‘. instead of being imposed. can be heard growing from within.

‘1 think so. yes. I speak with the authority of someone who‘s tried too hard a lot of the time to make things tip and got self-conscious. and there's nothing worse than hearing these things back. It‘s like re-reading yourown diaries and wincing. I think you're right I hope from time to time you do something that's better


‘Where‘sthe other one?‘

‘What other one?‘

Thinking I must just have imagined a third member oi the Syndicate I let the matter drop, but find out later on that other people have had the same response. SingerJames Stewart and guitarist Callum McNair aren‘t about to let on what’s happened to the mystery figure of James Heron (or is it Peter Haggerty?) in their press photos. They‘re keener to play new tracks they’ve recorded since their first album ‘When’ (EMI) was puttogether, songs

which already augurwell iortheir second.

The Syndicate are one of those names that have been uttered in excited whispers around Edinburgh for years, since James cajoled Callum away from another band to join his in 1985. Following their independently-released debut single “The Golden Key’, they signed to EMI and spent a lengthy time recording, including a spell in New York. As far as anyone else was concerned they were laying low, until their first British tour, supporting Transvision Vamp, coincided with the release of their first EMI single, ‘Baby’s Gone‘, in June.

James and Callum nod with satisfaction when words like ‘brazen’ and ‘audacious’ are plucked in an attempt to describe it, but so keen are they to keep up a ‘who, us?’ demeanour, they seem quite oblivious of the possibility that anyone could be reminded of Win by them. But it's true; both groups are unafraid of letting their love of 70s acts like T-Rex and Bowie come out in theirsongs. Quite a few times on theirexcellent new album, ‘Keep‘, Callum will crank up a charged hook on his Telecaster that brings to mind Mick Ronson‘s guitar sound and earior a timeless guitar break. But ’Keep’ is more than that. The

Syndicate‘s penchant for playing around to please themselves has resulted in an unpredictable and infectious LP. And iftracks like ‘I Love Hollywood‘ encroach somewhat on Win‘s territory, ‘Here Comes the Day’, the second single to be taken from the album (on 2 Oct) is pure Syndicate—an instantly catchy tune with guitars twisting and turning over a rhythm track that has more than a hint of funk in it.

Unfortunately, a live date that it was hoped would take place over this fortnight has had to be put back to a latertime. In the meantime, ‘Keep’ is to be sought out and heard. (Alastair Mabbott)

6 The List 15 28 September 198‘)