The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

“Hats” Off (Sort of) to Two Expansions of Blue Nile LPs

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If you’ve been waiting for expanded remasters from Scottish alternative band The Blue Nile, congratulations! Also, sorry to bear some bad news.

The Blue Nile, a trio consisting of non-traditional musicians Paul Buchanan (vocals/guitar/synthesizers), Robert Bell (bass) and Paul Joseph Moore (synthesizers), have an origin story almost as unusual as their musical direction. The group formed their own label, Peppermint Records, to distribute debut single “I Love This Life” in 1981; eventually, RSO Records picked up distribution but subsequent absorption into the PolyGram conglomerate virtually rendered the single nonexistent.

Years later, the band was picked up by another unusual label: Linn Records, owned by the European electronics manufacturer of the same name. The Blue Nile’s cutting-edge sound seemed like the perfect sonic formula for a brand-new hi-fi, and debut LP A Walk Across the Rooftops (1984) and single “Tinseltown in the Rain” dented the lower reaches of the U.K. charts.

After scrapping sessions for a second album, 1989 saw the group release Hats, a lush and layered effort that earned huge critical raves in England and peaked just outside the U.K. Top 10. (In the U.S., the album was aided by a much more direct push: A&M Records sent a copy free to anyone who called a toll-free number on a Billboard advertisement.) Two increasingly acoustic albums have followed since, 1996’s Peace at Last on the Warner Bros. label and 2004’s High, released by Sanctuary Records; unfortunately, the group has been inactive since 2008, with only Buchanan self-releasing a solo LP (with input from Bell) earlier this year.

To the delight of fans, EMI is planning deluxe two-disc editions of A Walk Across the Rooftops and Hats, each featuring bonus discs of non-LP content. Less exciting for hardcore fans is, while there appear to be a nice amount of unreleased content, very few of the original non-LP content from either of these two albums appears on the sets. Rooftops features remixes of “Tinseltown,” “Heatwave” and “Stay,” one original B-side (“Regret,” which backed “Tinseltown”), the band’s original RSO single and one unreleased track. Hats, meanwhile, only features one original B-side (“The Wires Are Down,” which backed “The Downtown Lights”), two alternate takes, two live cuts and another unreleased song, “Christmas.” Missing are non-LP tracks like “Saddle the Horses,” the B-side to “Stay,” and a Hats-era duet version of the band’s “Easter Parade” with Rickie Lee Jones, an early champion of the group in America.

All praise and/or blame for the bonus track situation goes to Buchanan and Bell themselves, who selected those tracks for inclusion on these new expansions, as well as overseeing the remastering done by Calum Malcolm, who engineered the original albums (not to mention the rest of The Blue Nile discography). Both expansions will be available November 11 in the United Kingdom. Hit the jump for the full track lists, courtesy of SpinCDs.

Thanks to super readers Len Lumbers and Richard for bringing these to our attention!

A Walk Across the Rooftops: Deluxe Edition (EMI, 2012)

Disc 1: Original LP (released as Linn Records LP LKH-1 (U.K.)/A&M, 1984)

  1. A Walk Across the Rooftops
  2. Tinseltown in the Rain
  3. From Rags to Riches
  4. Stay
  5. Easter Parade
  6. Heatwave
  7. Automobile Noise

Disc 2: Bonus content

  1. I Love This Life (single A-side – RSO 84, 1981)
  2. Heatwave (Rhythm Mix) (12″ B-side to “Tinseltown in the Rain” – Linn LKS-2 12, 1984)
  3. St. Catherine’s Day (previously unreleased)
  4. Tinseltown in the Rain (Remix) (12″ promo A-side – A&M SP-17356 (U.S.), 1984)
  5. The Second Act (single B-side – RSO 84, 1981)
  6. Stay (Little Mix) (single A-side – Linn LKS-1, 1984)
  7. Regret (B-side to “Tinseltown in the Rain” – Linn LKS-2, 1984)

Hats: Deluxe Edition (EMI, 2012)

Disc 1: Original LP (released as Linn Records LP LKH-2 (U.K.)/A&M SP-5824 (U.S.), 1989)

  1. Over the Hillside
  2. The Downtown Lights
  3. Let’s Go Out Tonight
  4. Headlights on the Parade
  5. From a Late Night Train
  6. Seven A.M.
  7. Saturday Night

Disc 2: Bonus material (previously unreleased except where noted)

  1. Seven A.M. (Live in Studio)
  2. Christmas
  3. Let’s Go Out Tonight (Vocal #2)
  4. Saturday Night (Vocal #2, Alternate Mix)
  5. Headlights on the Parade (Live in Tennessee)
  6. The Wires Are Down (B-side to “The Downtown Lights” – Linn LKS-3, 1989)

Written by Mike Duquette

October 2, 2012 at 13:55

4 Responses

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  1. These are pretty flipping sorry. I already made better versions of deluxe editions of these albums myself. The absence of the Rickie Lee Jones duet version of “Easter Parade” from either of these is criminal.


    October 5, 2012 at 22:00

    • Agreed, plenty of great stuff sadly left off, nice to see a couple of unreleased tracks get an appearance but shame that Young Club & Broadway in the snow havn’t been added, both lovely Hats era outakkes.


      October 7, 2012 at 15:52

  2. Well I think you can never get enough of the Blue Nile. I have to say I was a bit disappointed with Mid Air, although some songs are suited to such a bare arrangement, i missed the lush back that the Blue Nile is renowned for. On their website there is an instrumental version of Stay Close. I remixed it with the original for a 10 minute version of this classic. Hope you enjoy.

    Paul Strachan

    October 8, 2012 at 07:23

  3. I echo the comments above – a bit of a wasted opportunity, plus wonder what remastering can do for records that already sounded nigh on perfect.

    Mike Sargent

    October 8, 2012 at 07:34

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