Album Review: The Blue Nile “Hats”

Album Review: The Blue Nile “Hats”

The Blue Nile - Hats - album artwork from thebluenile.org

Album artwork from thebluenile.org

Virgin 1989 (collectors edition Nov 2012)

Originally released in 1989 “Hats” coincided with my acquisition of a Roksan turntable, my first major step into the strange and beautiful world of hi-fi.  I played this so much and I heard it in almost every shop I visited, and like a lot of music you play obsessively I suddenly stopped, and for whatever reason haven’t listened to it since.  I must have lent it to someone as well because I no longer have it.  So any judgement of original versus re-mastered is based on a memory that’s about 24 years old.

Music though stays somewhere in your memory store that allows you an almost photographic recall and the opening notes of the opening song brings the whole of “Hats” flooding back.  I can’t think why I stopped listening to “Hats”, it’s full of quietly beautiful songs, very thoughtful and graceful musicianship, and was outstandingly well produced.

Just as much care has gone into the re-mastered version as well.  The re-mastering was done by the original recording engineer, Calum Malcolm, and band members Paul Buchanan and Robert Bell.

Maybe because I’ve been listening to Paul Buchanan’s solo album “Mid Air” so much, this time around I’m more aware of just what a good singer and songwriter he is, and perhaps because my hi-fi journeys reached a stage where I’m very happy with where I am.  Whatever, listening to “Hats” purely in terms of music and songs is both a beautiful and affecting experience.  Everything fits together and the tracks flow from one to another in a way that makes it hard not to listen from start to finish.

If you listened to “Hats” way back when it was first released, listen to it again.  It sounds as fresh and sophisticated now as it did then. If the Blue Nile is a band you haven’t heard before, “Hats” would be a very good place to start; it’s an outstanding album in every way.  Oh yes, and the bonus disc would make this worth owning even if you still have an original copy.  Nigel Finn

 

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