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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Achingly beautiful.
A jaw dropper.

Arguably Hats is a better, more consistent album. It would be close though. And yes Toledo may well be the finest song Paul Buchanan has written. Again it would be a fine judgement and boils down to personal taste, Family Life would be a contender too.

However, this is the one for me. Because it was first, because on its release I had...
Published on 31 July 2007 by Daniel McAllister

versus
4 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Money Money Money
The beauty and timelessness of Hats and Rooftops is undeniable, however it is incredibly frustrating and disappointing to buy a Collectors Edition with additional music packaged in bland artwork that consists of blank, yes blank pages and a booklet with a handful of photos in it. No information, no history, no liner notes, no lyrics, no obvious input from the band (other...
Published 22 months ago by Heatwave


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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Achingly beautiful., 31 July 2007
By 
A jaw dropper.

Arguably Hats is a better, more consistent album. It would be close though. And yes Toledo may well be the finest song Paul Buchanan has written. Again it would be a fine judgement and boils down to personal taste, Family Life would be a contender too.

However, this is the one for me. Because it was first, because on its release I had heard nothing like it, because its got Tinseltown, because it mattered, because no-one else sings with such intensity, because because because. . . .

Sheer heart rending bliss.

And its got Easter Parade.
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "...Ocean's Deep..." - A Walk Across The Rooftops by THE BLUE NILE (2012 2CD DELUXE EDITION), 21 Nov 2012
By 
Mark Barry "Mark Barry" - See all my reviews
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*** THIS REVIEW IS FOR THE 2012 2CD REISSUE ***

I was quite literally trembling with excitement as I ripped the shrinkwrap off this reissue. I've loved Scotland's BLUE NILE for decades now (saw them live 3 times - religious experiences all of them) - and 'Remasters' of their first two masterpieces is enough to make me animated in the trouser area. But typical of Virgin's supposed 'DELUXE EDITIONS' (the useless reissue of Peter Gabriel's "So" jumps to mind) - it's a case of the sublime and seriously missed chances. Here are the finite details...

Released Monday 19 November 2012 in the UK - Virgin/Linn Records LKHCDR 1 (5099901730326) breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 (38:04 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 7 are their debut album "A Walk Across The Rooftops" - released April 1984 on LP in the UK on Linn Records LKH 1. It was first issued on CD in mid-1989 with a page inlay and not great sound. This is the first remaster of the album - handled by Calum Malcolm (a member of the original line-up and long-time Producer for the group) along with Band members Paul Buchanan and Robert Bell (US customers should use the barcode number provided above to get the right issue when searching on Amazon.com).

The remaster is breathtaking. The danger would have been to amp everything up - but it's not like that. It's subtle, clean and beautifully realized. You may still have to crank the volume knob a bit - but the sonic clarity on every song is 'so' good. Linn were a high-end turntable manufacturer (still are) and the album was their first - used almost as an example of sonic greatness. That initial production has stood the album well. From the moment "A Walk Across The Rooftops" fades in with synths to when it opens up with that bass in the background - is just incredible. "From Rags To Riches" completely comes alive and "Automobile Noise" sounds newly minted. "Heatwave" is fantastic - full of detail - the differing instruments suddenly in your speakers. And I've waited over 20 years to hear the sublime electro-funk of "Stay" in proper audiophile quality - so I'll confess to some pogo-shapes being thrown in my home as I listened to it. But the peach on here is "Easter Parade" which is now HUGE but in an opened-up way. Superbly done. In fact the album stills sound strangely other-worldly - but in a luscious way. What a starting point (and their follow-up "Hats" would only trump it ten-fold).

I wish I could be so enthusiastic about the packaging and the bonus disc. The minimalist gatefold card digipak is pretty for sure - but the 12-page booklet is a joke. There's 10-pages filled with a singular photo on each (none any use nor explained). There's no history - no liner notes - no lyrics - no input from the band - not even any real info on the 'bonus' stuff. It has more than a feel of what you can get away with rather than an appreciation of a masterpiece. Nothing under the see-through CD trays either. Which brings us to the 'bonus disc'...

Disc 2 (32:58 minutes):
Tracks 1 and 5 are the A & B-sides of their debut 7" single on RSO Records RSO 84 in October 1981. They were first made available on the "I Would Never" CD single in August 2004 on Sanctuary Records (a track lifted off the "High" album), but the sound quality wasn't the greatest. Here they're fully remastered and even though "The Second Act" is hissier than the A - the sonic improvement on both is very real (both tracks have been sought after for years by Electro-Pop fans).

Track 3 is "St. Catherine's Day". Starved of anything new for nearly 3 decades - Blue Nile fans will flip for this lone previously unreleased song. Feeling a lot like an outtake from 1989's "Hats" 5 years later - there's no annotation as to where it came from or why it sounds so fully-formed now. But I will say that it's been worth the wait because it's beautiful in that plaintive melancholic Blue Nile way. It's a genuine nugget on here and easily worth the price of entry alone (lyrics from it title this review).

Track 7 is "Regret" - it originally turned up as a UK non-album B-side to the 12" single of the "Tinseltown In The Rain" from 1984 on Linn Records LKS 2-12. It's only LP/CD appearance to my knowledge was on the 1991 compilation called "The Tree And The Bird And The Fish And The Bell - Glasgow Songs By Glasgow Artists" which in itself has been hard to get for years. It's a truly gorgeous song and brill to now hear it remastered to perfection (see PS below regarding a tie-in).

Which leaves us with the absences and seemingly 'new' inclusions. Exclusions first - fans will be gutted to see that "Saddle The Horses" (a non-album B-side to "Stay" in 1984) is missing - still unavailable on CD anywhere. Where's "Easter Parade" recorded with Rickie Lee Jones during the "Hats" period? Worse is the AWOL status of "Heatwave (Instrumental)" and the stunning 'Extended Remix' of "Stay" when it was reissued in 1989. That version beefed up the acoustic and electric guitars to incredible effect and has been one of my favourite 12" singles in the world ever since - and it isn't bloody on here!

For the life of me I can't find the three versions offered here anywhere in the band's Discography - and though not stated as 'new' - typically they're a very mixed bag. The "Mix" of "Tinseltown..." runs to 6:31 minutes - a full half-minute longer than any other previous version and is the best of the three here (you have to love Virgin who would call a track "Mix" and leave no other info about it). The "Little Mix" of "Stay" at 3:34 minutes is not great - while the "Rhythm Mix" of "Heatwave" at 5:50 minutes is too busy with distorted guitars ruining its original vibe. These are personal opinions of course - others may love them - but for me it's grating to know that there are released vinyl versions out there which are far better and should have been included here. It also doesn't take a Mensa member to work out that the playing times of both discs could have been amalgamated into one (with more added on too) - and the second disc could have been a DVD featuring those rare early videos. But alas...

To sum up - the remaster of the original album is an absolute triumph - 10 out of 10 - but the side is let down by the bare-knuckles packaging and those sloppy omissions on Disc 2 (docked a star for that).

PS: In September 2012 - I reviewed the BLU RAY reissue of Paul Greengrass' magnificent 9/11 movie - "United 93". In the review I mention a YouTube video apparently collated and posted by a fan who wanted to say something about the atrocity on its 10th Anniversary. The video uses "Regret" by THE BLUE NILE played against a backdrop of black and white images from that tragic event. Recorded years before in a country some 6000 miles away (and of course about something entirely different) the song somehow fits perfectly - both musically and lyrically. I urge you to check it out on YouTube.

More to the point (and I'll openly admit to this) - it moved me to tears - as did the best bits of this reissue...

PPS: see also my review for the 2CD reissue of "Hats"
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Something Very Special..., 22 Oct 2007
By 
M. Clarke - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
You know you have something very special, when the second song in your set can't be played because the audience is on its seventh standing ovation!

This was the atmosphere when the Blue Nile played an emotionally charged Birmingham Town Hall on September 20, 1990.

Mysterious and elusive, rumours had been circulating of a first tour - almost a decade after forming - and anticipation levels were high. The band took to the stage, visibly nervous and appearing somewhat embarrassed by the capacity audience assembled in anticipation.

As the lights faded and the opening track from A Walk Across the Rooftops sounded, the wait was over. We were rewarded, as each song from the album was reproduced with meticulous care to an intense pin-drop silence, followed by explosive rounds of applause! As the band's self-belief grew, the set opened out following the running order on the album. A casual mid set glance around the audience saw many in tears during Easter Parade (ignore the limited MP3 extract on Amazon, find the best speakers you have, switch off the lights and listen to the song in full).

As the atmosphere heightened and A Walk Across the Rooftops concluded, a similarly faithful performance of the new second album Hats followed.

By the end, with the band, audience and play list exhausted, a glowing and ecstatic Paul Buchanan, having earlier requested the support of State registered nurses for his nerves, now filled with confidence asked for favourite songs to be called out so the gig 'high' could continue. (During a Radio One recording of one of the latter tour dates, an audience member was heard to call out, "Don't be nervous, you're too good to be nervous"; and how right they were!)

It remains unsurpassed to this day as the best live performance I've ever experienced.

A Walk Across the Rooftops is a masterpiece. Observational and richly orchestrated, it contains a unique sense of care that draws on space, timing and economy as additional instruments. And that's without taking into account Buchanan's soulful vocals.

Are the Blue Nile one of the best kept secrets in music? Probably yes, but sssssshhh, keep it quiet!

Should you buy this album? Well, I think you know the answer...
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh my God, 4 Oct 2008
This is one of those CD's that grows on you with each listen. I first listened to it over 10 years ago and I can safely say that I am only now appreciating its brilliance. The lyrics are not published on the inlay card, and that is maybe a good thing because it forces you to pay attention. The later songs seem to question God: "From Rags to Riches" & "Easter Parade". Mere existence is a theme on "Stay" & "Heat wave".

"From Rags to Riches" is juxtaposed with images of P.Buchan growing up and leaving home set against an image of the Jewish exodus from Egypt to the promised land with references to `a coat of many colours' yet at the same time it is relevant to modern life with its struggles of poverty and promises of riches. In some ways it's a prayer to God about what seems to be his broken promises yet seeing the glory or hope at the end of the journey.
"People are leaving the squalor
They're leaving the houses and fire
And starting out
We find the waiting country."

"Stay" could be the typical song about a person losing a relationship, yet it works at a much deeper level, maybe because of the emotional skill and vocal range of Paul Buchanan.

"Easter Parade" is about a man who gets trapped on a street due to a parade passing by. As the joy of the crowd plays on, he remembers his childhood going to church & reflecting the death of Christ. It is one of the most moving moments on the CD when he cries, "I know you..."
"In hallways and railway stations
Radio across the morning air
A crowd of people everywhere
And then the people, all running forward

Easter parade"

"Heatwave" returns to the pop mainstream beat & style, but the words about the hardships of humanity keep the song above the normal top 40 mayhem. Can this be all we will desire ?
"Straw houses in the promised land
Why is it time for taking sight ?
When all I say and do is take too many chances
Heatwave, Heatwave
Why is it rolling down on the young and foolish ?"

"Automobile Noise" is more of an experiment with sound effects within a rock beat creating a great ending song.

This album is supremely original from this artistic Glaswegian trio. This debut album's sound is more ambient, atmospherically textured and stark than their excellent followup "Hats." Repeated listening brings to the fore the passion of Paul Buchanan's soulful and unforgettable dawnbreaker vocals and tactile and poetic urban-detailed lyrics. (Glasgow, its buildings, streets and people, seems to be an almost spiritual influence.) The greatest album ever
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent first album, 4 Feb 2007
The Blue Nile first long player - yes this was completed before compact discs were an everyday release. Builds on the studio experience of the debut single, and offers up 7 slices of music quite unlike anything else around.

Key element is Paul Buchanan's voice, which aches with emotion on every syllable. The skeleton is the simple but intricate instrumentation that leaves holes in the sound for the mind to discover.

Highlight is 'Tinseltown In The Rain' a driving beat and a swooping synthesiser that I first heard on Gary Davies Radio 1 show on my summer holidays. The other single 'Stay' also has a good beat, but the ballads also draw you in and leave you thinking that's just how I feel too.

Buy this and 'Hats', you can pick these up for around £5 or £6 brand new these days.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly timeless! - Music for the soul..., 27 July 2006
By 
DSR (out beyond the sticks) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
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I just cannot believe this was released as long ago as 1984, such is the timeless quality in the beautifully produced tracks here.

A true classic, I've played this album countless times over the years and found something new each time. The emotions expressed are sometimes heartrending while the beautifully produced arrangements are deceptively simple.

One of my favourite albums; I suggest you give it a try, as it may become one of yours.......

Edit 2013 - The remastered CD lifts volume levels a touch - but not excessively - and there appears to be a more beneficial "presence" as a result. The bonus tracks are a mixed bag, but it's so good to finally have "Regret" presented here in all its aching beauty. I do miss a couple of obvious omissions such as the excellent extended and slightly remixed "Stay" in 12" single form, but this has been mentioned by many in the reviews of the two CD issue proper, so I shan't say more.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can Blue men sing the Blues? Definitely, 10 Aug 2002
By 
Dobester (Istanbul, Turkey) - See all my reviews
Urban angst from the Clyde. The Blue Nile may be in cryonic suspension (read: working on the difficult fourth album), but this and the other albums are timeless gems that bear fairly constant relistening, which is just as well, with an average of five years between albums.
Thoughtful, romantic teary-eyed dirges they may be, but they're gorgeous.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everybody has their own Blue Nile experience, 22 Nov 2012
By 
Jeffrey M. Black "jblack437" (Stockport) - See all my reviews
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If you've ever been in love, ever felt apart from the world, ever experienced a simmering spring/summer in the city, The Blue Nile will reach you like no other band. A song with the shrug of a chorus "Do I love you? Yes, I love you" becomes the most perfect love song you'll ever hear - and you can't put your finger on why (although the soaring orchestration helps).

Recorded 30 years ago, there are no dated drum sounds or anything of its time - just ambient, other-worldly music that was never in fashion in the first place. Whoever at Linn Hi-fi commissioned this as a demonstration record must have been very brave indeed. It's like an alternative version of how the 80s could have played out. Forget your Whams and Spandaus - this is what the people who really loved soulful music were listening to.

To my mind, it's stood up better than the equally classic 'Hats' because that album used recognisably 80s sounds. This doesn't at all - it just exists in its own space and is totally unique. I won't let you have this album because it's mine ... as well as anybody else who hears it and falls in love too.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A guide to teenage infatuation and the discovery of girls, 8 Oct 2003
By 
Matt Sephton (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Perhaps not as easily accessible as the later two Blue Nile albums, "Hats" telling the tale of heartbreak, growing up and finding the right girl and "Peace At Last" documenting adulthood, marriage and happy ever after, "A Walk Across The Rooftops" is still right up there.
The fact that it is close to twenty years old is almost unbelievable. It was a showcase for new technology (Linn drum machines and Compact Disc itself) and it is also a showcase for the most emotional singing and song writing I have ever come across. To not know the Blue Nile is to not know yourself.
For around less than a tenner self discovery comes pretty cheap these days.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gift to humanity, 18 Dec 2004
By 
Gerard J. Mcardle "Gerry" (Glasgow, Scotland United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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Why is this album a gift to humanity?
The seven songs contained within encompass love, angst, passion, joy, pain... It's all here, wrapped in beautifully crafted music which defies categorisation.
It may be going on 23 years old but that's completely irrelevant, this music is of its age but also completely timeless.
If you love music then you should really know this album.
It's sometimes described as being not immediately accessible, which is true I suppose. But if you get a copy and find 38 minutes to sit at peace and listen, then you will be HUGELY rewarded. The fact is that 99% of people who have this album will regard it as one of the jewels in their music collection.
If you're looking for shortcuts to the more accessible bits, I would say that 'Tinseltown in the rain', 'Heatwave' and 'Stay' are the places to start. I don't know anyone who has heard these songs and NOT loved them. Even one of my friends who is not really into music (I know - freak) is blown away by 'Heatwave'.
These songs will fuel your desire to listen to the rest, and it's ALL immensely rewarding.
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