Music review: The Blue Nile 'A Walk Across the Rooftops,' 'Hats'

The Blue Nile still flows beautifully beyond '80s new wave music.
Modified: January 24, 2013 at 5:37 pm •  Published: January 25, 2013

REISSUES

The Blue Nile ‘A Walk Across the Rooftops,' ‘Hats' (EMI)

The moody, melodic lure of such songs as “Tinseltown in the Rain” and “The Downtown Lights” from The Blue Nile's first two albums — “A Walk Across the Rooftops” (1984) and “Hats” (1989), respectively — has not diminished a single degree in 20-plus years compared to the faded appeal of other '80s music.

That other stuff mesmerized us with its electronic hypnotics and aloof new-wave lyrical attitudes, which seemed to dominate the times.

But just sit in a dimly lighted, comfortable listening room and let the new collector's editions of these two Blue Nile albums wash over you. Paul Buchanan (vocals, guitar) and Robert Bell (bass) could write torch songs and ballads of loneliness like nobody's business, while Paul Joseph Moore added the electronic ambience like softly painted landscapes — or cityscapes.

Buchanan's words are full of expressiveness without ever overplaying the drama, the electronics are just as subtle as they need to be (unlike other bands of the period), lending muted strings and crystalline piano — not to mention distant, muted trumpet — to the smoky proceedings.

This Glasgow band knew how to bring the feeling of a lover's breakup, especially on the second album's “From a Late Night Train.” I think Frank Sinatra would have been very impressed.

Second discs in both reissue sets contain alternate takes and other surprises that will pleasure old fans and newcomers alike.

— Gene Triplett