Get this crazy baby off my head!


The Blue Nile

The Blue Nile - High - 2004 - Sanctuary

High is the fourth and most recent album from Glaswegian adult contemporary band The Blue Nile, released on 30 August 2004 on Sanctuary Records. A single, "I Would Never", was released one week prior to the album: a second song, "She Saw the World", was made available as a promotional single, but never released officially. "Soul Boy" had already been recorded by former Spice Girl Melanie C for her album Reason the previous year. The album received generally favourable reviews, with many critics considering High to be a stronger album than their previous effort Peace at Last. AllMusic said "the Blue Nile have returned with a more balanced album than Peace at Last] and Buchanan is broken-hearted again, thank the stars. He's been struggling with fatigue and illness and as selfish and inconsiderate as it sounds, it's brought the spark back to his writing... given the time to sink in, the album fits well in their canon."The Guardian believed that with High "the emotional commitment of Peace at Last is combined with the observational detachment of the earlier work... In pop, most people do their best work within five or six years. How extraordinary, then, that after more than two decades of activity, the Blue Nile remain on course, their range expanded, their focus more refined, unshaken in their determination to proceed at their own measured pace." MusicOMH said "High is proof that they may have been away for a while, but they certainly haven't lost their touch... Although some may call this album bland, that is to miss the point... Buchanan's vocals are what raises most of the songs to another level—sometimes a gentle whisper, at other times an anguished cry, it's one of the great, if less celebrated voices in modern music. They may only appear at around the same frequency as Halley's Comet but it's records like High that remind you why The Blue Nile are so highly regarded." BBC Music said "High manages to maintain the Blue Nile's impeccably tasteful standards while soaring blissfully over the rattle and hum of most contemporary music. Paul Buchanan still sings his songs of faded love affairs, broken dreams and squandered ambitions with almost painful emotional candor, while the musical backings are as lush and flowing as ever... There are many recognizable Blue Nile motifs throughout—the imagery of rain, railway stations, traffic and rooftops will certainly be familiar—and the tempo barely rises above a stately shuffle, which for some might seem a missed opportunity for stylistic innovation. However, for those of us who've cherished the band's previous albums, High is like meeting a new friend, albeit one possessing a reassuring familiarity." Other reviewers were less enthusiastic: Stylus said, "If you were hoping for something to stand above Hats as a late-night, solitary classic, then High will only get halfway there, because it sounds exactly as you would expect a fourth Blue Nile album to sound. Perhaps their best music has long since been made, but The Blue Nile still do what they do exquisitely well." The Observer was disappointed, saying "the empty streets of provincial towns are the stock-in-trade landscapes of the Blue Nile, and it's one of the saddening facts about High that those landscapes have become a little predictable", while Uncut said that "Paul Buchanan revisits the same spot on the hillside overlooking the evening city lights, is still filled with the same surging, oblique melancholy and longing that has sustained The Blue Nile since 1984, is still crafting singularly mature MOR in a darker shade of turquoise all his own. This time, however, the overall return feels diminished in effect." - Wiki

If you've read anything else about the Blue Nile, you already know it takes them eight to ten years between albums, they're elegant sad sacks, and they're critically adored for the most part. Their last album, 1996's Peace at Last, was their first stumble, with main man Paul Buchanan yammering wistfully about family and domestication instead of giving listeners the skeletal poems and studio magic of their first two albums. If you weren't staring at your newborn, Peace at Last could grow tiresome, but the Blue Nile have returned with a more balanced album and Buchanan is broken-hearted again, thank the stars. He's been struggling with fatigue and illness and as selfish and inconsiderate as it sounds, it's brought the spark back to his writing. Mood over narrative has always worked to the Blue Nile's benefit and that's what the excellent "Broken Loves" is all about, giving the listener a better chance to relate than Peace at Last's postcard from home. "I Would Never" is the sweet single, but album tracks like "Because of Toledo" and "She Saw the World" are where the album gets meaty and intricately structured, recalling the glory days. Getting more obscure and atmospheric toward the end, High follows the arc of their classic, Walk Across the Rooftops, and given the time to sink in, the album fits well in their canon. The closing "Stay Close" is one of those "raw emotion over urbanite aesthetic" tracks that fans crave. It makes the eyes well up, and like the better part of High, justifies the next eight- to ten-year wait. © David Jeffries, allmusic.com, http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:difyxqwsldje

The Blue Nile have released four studio albums in thirty years. Even Steely Dan has a more prolific album output, but as Cathy Ilani said, “It's about quality, not quantity". And William A. Foster said, “Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.” These two quotes could apply to TBN's music. "High" is intricate, delicate "rock" music, full of "urban solitude", and "melancholic romanticism”. TBN's music has been called "Folk Ambient". This may sound boring, but it's really engrossing stuff. Despite the songs' subject matter, the music is moody and atmospheric, and never descends into "corniness" or "lovey doviness". Amazingly, the songs' subject matter is injected with skilful melodic structure, and the band's low key/slow tempo execution of their songs is masterful. The Blue Nile's music is tough to describe, but it just has to be heard. "High" is VHR by A.O.O.F.C. Listen to the band's masterpiece, "Hats", and their stellar "Walk Across the Rooftops" albums. Check out more info on The Blue Nile @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Blue_Nile and "Hats" off to Scotland, again! [All tracks @ 320 Kbps: File size = 93.7 Mb]


1 The Days of Our Lives
2 I Would Never
3 Broken Loves
4 Because of Toledo
5 She Saw the World
6 High
7 Soul Boy
8 Everybody Else
9 Stay Close

All songs composed by Paul Buchanan


Paul Buchanan - Guitar, Synthesizer, Vocals
Robert Bell - Bass, Synthesizer
Paul Joseph Moore - Keyboards, Synthesizer


Blue Nile go on creative splurge - 4th album in 20 years. Less is more... The CLUAS Verdict? 9.9 out of 10. There's a lot of old toffee written and spoken about Blue Nile's almost torturous recording process, their suffering for their art and their shared obsession with getting everything aurally just so. Reportedly they had an entire album of new material just before "High", their new collection, and "High" is of course their fourth album in 20 years. I love this band to bits but I sometimes wonder if the whole longevity thing is a smokescreen - I reckon that in and around the early 1980s the Blue Nile lads worked flat out and recorded five or six bodies of work. They then sat back and vegged. Whenever their stock rose and the crowd yelled out for more they release another masterpiece, tour, do some obtuse press interviews and then return to their bath chairs for another five years. It's a funny hypothesis of course but even though it was recorded in the last couple of years "High" makes you wonder if it's the second disc of a double, coupled up with their debut, "Walk across the rooftops". The latter is a masterpiece, brilliantly structured, painstakingly arranged and beautifully played - check out "Tinseltown in the rain" - it's a true measure of frontman Paul Buchanan's phrasing that he can sing a line like "hey, there's a red car in the fountain" and make it sound like the most romantic thing in the world. "Walk across the rooftops" was an exercise in setting down different shades of darkness but while "High" is built along the same sombre tones it's full of colour and movement. You wonder how they make it work - the synth settings are stuck around 1983, Buchanan sounds like disappointment on legs, the lyrics are sometimes a bit drippy, all mid-life crises and lovelorn longings. But it does work for Blue Nile, and "High" really is a stunning return to form after the pretty awful "Peace at last". For all that, High's track 3, "Broken loves" is a turkey, by the band's exalted standards - the song itself is up to scratch but they deck it out with a keyboard motif that is more irritating than edgy. It's the only blemish on the entire album - everything else on "High" is far above and beyond nearly everything else recorded this and many a year in terms of its sheer musical class. "Because of Toledo", a dustbowl ballad, could become an absolute classic but I hope it does not - no one could ever hope to top Buchanan's vocal and the song's tear-soaked arrangement. "Turn my back" is their "Every breath you take", a bona fide masterpiece and a possible single, the album's title track sails perilously close to the Lighthouse Family's wretched "Ocean Drive" but manages to avoid an ugly collision, and "Everybody else" is a jaunty little thing, Buchanan sounding almost playful. Check out the fade on the improbably titled "Soul Boy"- it's the softest sound ever recorded. "High" - a serious must-buy. © Anthony Morrissey, © 1999-2009 www.CLUAS.com & individual writers as indicated per byline. http://www.cluas.com/music/albums/blue_nile.htm

In his original sleeve note to Miles Davis's Kind of Blue, the pianist Bill Evans compared the method by which that album was made to the procedure followed by a certain kind of Japanese calligraphic artist: an inordinate amount of care over the selection and preparation of materials followed by a fleeting moment of creation in which nothing can be repeated and nothing erased. Sometimes simplicity is the hardest thing of all to bring off. The songs on High, the fourth album from the Blue Nile, give no clue that they took eight years to create. So exquisite as to be almost transparent, they sound like the result of a few quick brush-strokes. Eight years, however, is the gap between the new recording and its predecessor, Peace At Last. In turn, Peace At Last came seven years after Hats. And Hats followed A Walk Across the Rooftops, their debut, by six years. This time, at least, there is a practical reason for the lengthy period of gestation: an ME-type illness kept Paul Buchanan, their singer and guitarist, out of action for a couple of years. Nevertheless, there is something magnificent about the sheer doggedness of the Blue Nile's adherence to the unorthodox trajectory of their singular career. The group's three members - Buchanan, Robert Bell and PJ Moore - have produced for public consumption a mere 33 songs in just over 20 years. But their impact has far exceeded that of many more productive outfits, and by distilling such limited quantities of a particular emotional essence, they have encouraged a loyal following. Existential melancholy is the mode they explored in A Walk Across the Rooftops and Hats. In songs such as Tinseltown in the Rain and The Downtown Lights, Buchanan evoked urban solitude with greater precision than any singer since the mid-1950s Sinatra. The Blue Nile made torch songs for the Thatcher years, and they turned the lean, floppy-haired Buchanan into an enigmatic archetype. Such an image tends to persist, particularly when time passes and the subject remains lean and floppy-haired. "It probably comes across like I'm the man in the car advert," Buchanan admits in an interview in the current issue of Uncut magazine, "with the big raincoat, walking in the rain, and all of that." But there is more to him, and to the Blue Nile, than a particular strain of stylish gloom, and those prepared to hang around after the popular success of Hats discovered that its successor marked a considerable change of tone. While making Peace At Last, they downplayed the neon-lit synth washes and the robotic drum machines with which they had evoked the alienation and the relentless beat of modern city life. More open and organic sounds, including finger-picked acoustic guitar and a choir, were matched to a set of unashamedly optimistic lyrics celebrating family, community, peace, faith and love. What made the new combination work, even for those besotted by the earlier headlights-in-the-rain ballads, was that while he celebrated the consolations of life, Buchanan still sounded like a man on the edge of an emotional precipice. The sound of his voice - mostly a murmur in the listener's ear, occasionally vaulting up to a heart-aching upper register - told his listeners that this was the same guy who had gazed through the window of the late-night train and seen only the emptiness of his own existence. "Now that I've found peace at last," he sang, "tell me, Jesus, will it last?" He was waiting for an answer, knowing that a false step might mean a plunge into the abyss. Although High marks another shift of mood, its ingredients are familiar enough. Now, however, the emotional commitment of Peace At Last is combined with the observational detachment of the earlier work. So while Buchanan is still watching the world through a window - in the opening song, The Days of Our Lives, the window belongs to someone else - his eye has grown more compassionate. Almost all of these nine songs are so well turned as to validate his claim that the group discarded "hundreds" more while preparing the material for High. The exception is Everybody Else, a curious, uneventful trifle. Otherwise the Blue Nile's gift for an impassioned chord change is frequently in evidence, along with the instrumental economy that was such a telling feature of the previous album. With three songs in particular they touch their peak. The glorious descending melody of Because of Toledo carries a western narrative full of fractured, inconclusive images: "Girl leans on a jukebox/ In a pair of old blue jeans/ Says, 'I don't live here/ But I don't really live anywhere'..." The urgent She Saw the World is propelled by the kind of mid-tempo 4/4 that pushes ahead of the beat (think of the Beatles' Things We Said Today or the Stones' Honky Tonk Woman) under pensive, hovering strings - a magical contrast. The closing track, Stay Close, emerges from a shimmer of what sound like Mellotron strings and woodwind (but are probably something far more expensive), turning a momentary thought and a snatch of melody into a quiet hymn that concludes with a stately diminuendo. In pop, most people do their best work within five or six years. How extraordinary, then, that after more than two decades of activity, the Blue Nile remain on course, their range expanded, their focus more refined, unshaken in their determination to proceed at their own measured pace. © Richard Williams The Guardian, Friday 13 August 2004, guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010, http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2004/aug/13/popandrock.shopping

The first album for eight years, and only the fourth in 21 years, High manages to maintain the Blue Nile's impeccably tasteful standards while soaring blissfully over the rattle and hum of most contemporary music. Paul Buchanan still sings his songs of faded love affairs, broken dreams and squandered ambitions with almost painful emotional candor, while the musical backings are as lush and flowing as ever. Opening track "The Days of Our Lives" returns to the sparse sound of 1984's debut, A Walk Across the Rooftops, although the flush of youthful romantic exuberance has now been replaced by a world weary housewife who "sits around in her dressing gown". Buchanan's lyrics deal in the kind of details which can wrench the most telling of emotional responses from the seemingly mundane. On "Broken Loves" he sings, "Nothing I can say or do/will make you turn off the tv/and look up", perfectly evoking the heartbreaking frustration of knowing things are going wrong but not quite knowing why, and stalking similar territory to 1989's classic "Lets Go Out Tonight". Elsewhere, "I Would Never" is as perfect a love song as you will ever hear, all the more striking for it's unashamed romanticism -as close as Buchanan ever gets to cliché. While most pop songs seem content to bask in the glow of eternal youth, The Blue Nile are resolutely adult in their concerns - 1996's Peace At Last dealt with the pressures and the joys of family and commitment, while High seems to deal with a re-affirmation of those same things, but with an occasionally ambiguous and fearful tone. There are many recognizable Blue Nile motifs throughout - the imagery of rain, railway stations, traffic and rooftops will certainly be familiar - and the tempo barely rises above a stately shuffle, which for some might seem a missed opportunity for stylistic innovation. However, for those of us who've cherished the band's previous albums, High is like meeting a new friend, albeit one possessing a reassuring familiarity. See you in ten years then, lads? © Michael Fitzsimmons 2004-09-08, http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/reviews/g2hj

"Sometimes, the Good Times Don't Last" : - Productivity is overrated. Being productive is just a matter of willpower, a parlor trick. True creativity comes with a certain amount of restraint. The Blue Nile has managed to build an unassailable career by being selective about what they record, and even more selective about what they eventually release. The band, which formed and released its first single in 1981, has just gotten around to releasing High, their fourth album, eight full years since the previous one. I fear that the words "eight years" do not do justice for this inconceivable gap. To give the reader some perspective, a 14-year-old who was just beginning high school when Peace at Last was released, would now be fresh out of college in time for High. Most bands with such long gaps between albums would gradually fade away in the public memory, but the Blue Nile has built a sizable legend thanks to their extended absences. With the band's limited output, group leader Paul Buchanan throws away far more songs than he keeps, insuring that there is very little in their output that is anything less than revelatory. Then, these songs are given the best possible studio treatment, regardless of how long the process takes. The Blue Nile is, in just about every sense, the antithesis of artists like Lou Barlow or Robert Pollard. For the diehard fan, every Blue Nile album is an event, with the only two possible disappointments being that there are too few songs and too long of a wait for the next one. These two disappointments are the only major charges that could be held against the band's latest, High. From the opening repeating piano dirge that opens the heartbreaking "Days of Our Lives" to Buchanan's last exhortations on the eight-minute plea "Stay Close", there is not a single wasted moment on the entire album. Often when bands spend too much time refining their material in the studio, the results are drained of emotional immediacy. This will never be a danger for the Blue Nile as the band carefully composes and produces their songs for maximum emotional impact, using the studio to enhance rather than smother the painful core of Buchanan's songs. If anything, High is a little too emotional, with some of its songs striking chords of despair and emptiness that popular music, particularly well-produced adult pop, rarely addresses. It is this delicate balance between professionalism, there is a smoothness to their songs that rivals Steely Dan, and the sheer emotional appeal of the songs that makes each Blue Nile album "event listening". The Blue Nile has been able to survive three decades in a constantly evolving musical landscape without seeming dated by latching onto the most basic, and most often ignored, aspects of the synth-pop scene from which they emerged: the lack of warmth inherent in digital music and synthesizers and the fact that this new form of music was perfectly suited to reflect emotions of alienation and despair. Certainly New Order and Depeche Mode at their peak would use this coldness in a way to directly appeal to a listener's emotions, but the Blue Nile has been able to escape the "'80s" ghetto by explicitly appealing to these often uncomfortable emotions. "Days of Our Lives" opens right with a bleak tale of the boredom and emptiness of life. Most pop music explores the high points of life: love, betrayal, murder, death, redemption, moments of joy, moments of sadness, decadence, celebration, etc. "Days of Our Lives", and much of the rest of High, focuses on the other ninety percent of life. The 90 percent of life that we will not remember on our deathbeds, the 90 percent of life that we barely notice as it is going on around us. "Days of Our Lives" is about the times when life consists of nothing but going to work and coming back nine hours later and maybe turning on the television but maybe not, and finally going to sleep without really accomplishing anything until waking up to face the next uninspiring day. It is a bitter song to take, only barely redeemed by the next song, the oddly sorrowful love song "I Would Never". The album gets even bleaker, and, not coincidentally, more beautiful as it progresses. On "High", Buchanan wonders why we bother to live at all, when, after all, we could take the coward's way out and "get high" to escape all of this. There is something in the way the band strips life of its many illusions that is powerfully cathartic, with Buchanan's soulful untrained voice fighting against the impersonal but beautifully skeletal arrangements provided by the band (bassist Robert Bell and keyboardist Paul Joseph Moore). It is as if Buchanan's vocals are attempting to find something human and beautiful in a seemingly sterile world. Perhaps the madness in Blue Nile's method is more than quality control. Both the spaces between albums and the band's minimalist sound reflect the emptiness of the lives that Buchanan describes. This explains why the fullest production is given to the closing "Stay Close", which attempts some sort of redemption. On this final track, Buchanan howls for an unnamed figure to "stay close" to him for almost eight minutes in an ambiguous final statement. Has Buchanan found love, or something real and substantive, in this otherwise empty world, or is "Stay Close" a rallying cry of co-dependence? Buchanan's almost tearful exhortations last far too long to be reassuring that the song's subject will actually stay. In my view, "Stay Close" is a triumph because the singer is at least able to yearn for something. He is still able to feel. In a world where so much music is aimed to anesthetize, the equivalent of Buchanan's appeal to "get high" and forget about real life on the album's title track, High reminds the listener that it is a rare gift just to be able to feel anything. Heck, even better, it manages to deliver this message through a series of catchy and well-produced songs that will reward decades of replay value. Of course, considering the band's output, they pretty much better withstand some series replay value. Here's hoping the band is just as good on the follow-up, circa 2012. — 29 October 2004, © 1999-2009 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved. http://www.popmatters.com/music/reviews/b/bluenile-high.shtml


The Scottish folk-ambient band the Blue Nile has enjoyed a mystique contrived by its inaccessibility and the infrequency of its recordings, but it has also made a series of critically acclaimed discs. The group was formed by three Glasgow natives who had graduated from university there: singer/songwriter/guitarist Paul Buchanan, bassist Robert Bell, and keyboardist Paul Joseph Moore. (Engineer Callum Malcolm and drummer Nigel Thomas have worked with the trio consistently, to the point of being considered secondary bandmembers.) (The Blue Nile is the title of Alan Moorehead's 1962 sequel to The White Nile, the two books making up a history of the Nile River.) They recorded their own single, "I Love This Life," which was distributed by Robert Stigwood's RSO Records just before the company closed its doors. They were then signed by Linn Products, which released their debut album, A Walk Across the Rooftops, in 1984. (A&M handled it in the U.S.) Since the company was small and the band did not tour, the album took some time to find its audience, though it briefly reached the U.K. charts and led to high expectations for a second album. This came in 1989 with Hats, which reached the British Top 20, throwing off three chart singles, "The Downtown Lights," "Headlights on the Parade," and "Saturday Night." The album also made the lower reaches of the American charts as the Blue Nile embarked on its first tour, a 30-date journey taking place in the British Isles and the U.S. In the ensuing years, the band members switched record labels, signing to Warner Bros., and contributed to recordings by Robbie Robertson and Julian Lennon. They finally emerged with their third album, Peace at Last, in June 1996. Another critically acclaimed release, it placed in the U.K. Top 20, but failed to chart in the U.S. © William Ruhlmann, allmusic.com, http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:kifqxqw5ldde~T1


NobodyAtAll said...

My Dear Mr Fingal,

The link currently downloads Gannin Arnold's "Not From Here".

Thanks for the unexpected bonus, and thanks in advance for the Blue Nile album too.

Big Bad Buddha said...

Just downloaded the file from Mega as 3359.rar, but ended up with Gannin Arnold's "Not From Here" instead. Looking forward to the real thing....many thanks!

A.O.O.F.C said...

Apologies, my friends. Correct link coming soon. TVM...Paul

A.O.O.F.C said...


P/W is aoofc