I’ve fallen for Hats, the second Blue Nile Album, just recently in fact. Good timing given the new 2CD reissue. Before that it was all about A Walk Across The Rooftops (also reissued recently) and High (the one so many forgot about because, ultimately, Peace At Last was a little lacklustre). Just four albums in 30 years, it’s now nearly a decade since the last album – but there’s news Paul Buchanan could be offering a swifter follow-up to his sublime Mid Air, so hey, that’s something.
Meanwhile the reissues (Peace At Last is on the way, and, therefore presumably High as well…) seem perfect for the fans (only a small catalogue, anything extra is, well a bonus) and also work as a way of pulling in newcomers, people who have heard the name and now want to explore as the cult has grown across the last two decades of the band’s relative-silence.
So, I should clarify, I already loved Hats, but my vinyl copy was well-worn before I picked it up cheap; it’s never really delivered the album – correctly – to my ears.
So for a start I’m in on the ground level with this reissue simply because of that.
Disc two, the extras, well it’s possibly a bit thin – if you’ve collected up the singles then you’ll have the b-sides but if you stopped at the albums or this is your first time accessing the album then you’ve got something new ahead of you on disc two.
But I’m happy enough with the half-hour of extras because reissues only work for me if the album deserves to be heard again – in a new way, with fresh ears and Hats (and any of the Blue Nile albums) certainly deserves that.
Hats was released in 1989 – it might, if anything, seem more appropriate now; it’s certainly lost absolutely nothing, and hearing it (again) after Buchanan’s solo album it almost feels like it could be a follow-up to that, as much as it was to the first Blue Nile album.
That yearning sound Buchanan seems to on the one hand so effortlessly summon, on the other you know he’s pouring out his soul, giving his heart to each song, take Headlights on the Parade for example. Wow.
Morose, maudlin, world-weary, it never sounded so sweet, so soulful, so beautiful.
Nice to finally hear it.