The Blue Nile are putting their loyal following out of their misery with their first album in seven years. Susan Hay cherishes that moment.
here is an oft-quoted show business tablet of stone which states that under no circumstances should you work with children or animals. A wise old sage once remarked that gospel choirs should be added to this list. Clearly. The Blue Nile do not subscribe to this view.
()n the opening track of their new. long- awaited and. OK I'll say it. difficult third album. collective ecclesiastical vocalising kicks in to stunning effect. For a combo associated with over-synthetic sensibilities. the desire for such rich authenticity. achieved with a choir. as well as aeoustic guitars if you please. is a turn-up. Though no less a welcome one for all that.
‘We would he more inclined to get some buskers and say: “Do you want to play on our record‘.’"‘ explains Blue Nile frontman Paul Buchanan. 'It was a bit of a trek getting them but w‘ejttst didn‘t want to use a studio choir to make it sound too polished. We started phoning people arbitrarily. saying: “do you know any choirsT"
And the rest is Peace A! Last. th Nile's third album in thirteen years. Prolific. they are not. Yet the band have never seen the appeal in pandering to others’ expectations or demands. preferring to stick to their own path with a firm resolution. Through this they have attracted a devout fan base who have followed every false alarm about forthcoming releases with a commendable patience since the band's debut in 1983 with A Walk Across The Rooftops. Six years passed before their follow- up Hats hit the cafe bars and bedsits and a new product is at last within the faithful‘s grasp.
Despite the new albums shift they can rest assured that the magic is still there. ‘You get
tired of being misconstrued as some sort of
perfect synthpop intellectual art-band so we decided to make a different record.’ admits Buchanan. ‘I wanted this to be more old- fashioned sounding with more guitars on it and less ofthe things people would expect of tts. We stuck to our guns on that. I hope we‘re still using
the same things to generate sortie sense of
emotion but it was important to say that this colour is in our palette as well.’ So why the delay‘.’ Like many others before
and. no doubt. after them. the business side of
the music industry played its unforgiving role. The Blue Nile found themselves caught between the demands and restrictions of their original backers Linn and their big brothers at Virgin. the distributors of the first two albums. Once Huts had been completed. inconsistencies arose in the three-way contractual obligations. and litigation became an inevitability. ‘()ur deal
‘You get tired of being misconstrued as some sort of perfect synthpop intellectual art-band so we decided to make a different record.’
with Linn ended because it was time-based and Linn‘s with Virgin hadn’t as it was product— based.‘ recalls Buchanan. ‘ln a sense everybody was quite right. Virgin were entitled to say “Well. you know" and Linn were right to say “Yes. but” and we were entitled to say “Ah. no". It just took time to resolve as these things do.’
True to character. Buchanan bears no ill-will to any of the parties embroiled in the mess. The arrangement was simply unfeasible to reshuffle and the band wanted to force a clean break and seek fresh commitment. The result is their current attachment to Warner‘s. It is unlikely that
THE BLUE NILE FEATURE
Paul Buchanan: finding Peace At Last
any contract signed would include a statement demanding that they play live but they will soon be taking to the stage on their own volition. in any case.
For those who witnessed their triumphant Scottish dates in l‘)‘)(). fevcred brow syndrome will ensue. l-‘or the battth part. the live circuit held surprisingly few fears. ‘The third time we ever played was in New York. It was incredibly reckless of us.‘ claims Buchanan. ‘You think (llasgow can be critical. try .\'ew York. We went in defenceless without this “we'll do I()() shows and get it together. man.” ()ut we went without slogans. We weren't doing it to give ourselves a pat on the back. we .just did it in our own oblique way. taking a stand against commercialism and dollars. It was important for us to maintain a certain credibility and try to validate the tenderness of what we were trying to say in the work.’
In cynical times where souls and original intentions are swiftly bucked (the words Pistols and Sex spring readily to mind). such sentiment should be warme applauded. The Blue Nile may come across as too precious for some. yet this would be to totally misread the message. Pursuing the reasons why you do something in the first place is a much harder act to keep following than ditching it all at the merest glimpse of an Ecu sign. For that The Blue Nile must be thanked. And besides. the music isn‘t bad either.
Peace xii [.ust is rc/(wsw/ ()lI .llom/(tv [0.1mm
The List 31 .\la_\ —l.‘ Jun I‘l‘lo 15