The Blue Nile – in concert – recorded live at the Manchester Trade Hall – November 24, 1990 – BBC Radio 1
The Blue Nile in concert tonight – recorded at the Manchester Trade Hall by the venerable BBC Radio on November 24, 1990.
The Blue Nile’s early music was built heavily on synthesizers and electronic instrumentation and percussion, although later works featured guitar more prominently. Following early championing by established artists such as Rickie Lee Jones and Peter Gabriel (the band would later work with both acts), The Blue Nile gained critical acclaim, particularly for their first two albums A Walk Across the Rooftops and Hats, and some commercial success in both the UK and the US, which led to the band working with a wide range of musicians from the late 1980s onwards. The band has earned four top 75 hits on the UK Singles Chart, their highest being “Saturday Night” which reached No. 50 in 1991. In the United States, “The Downtown Lights” became their only charter, peaking at No. 10 on Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart.
Paul Buchanan and his childhood friend Robert Bell grew up together in Glasgow and both attended the University of Glasgow in the late 1970s (Buchanan gaining his degree in literature and medieval history; Bell in mathematics).Buchanan’s civil servant father had been a semi-professional musician and had musical instruments in the house, but it was only after he and Bell had graduated that Buchanan began to think seriously about a career in music.
Although Buchanan had grown up in the same neighbourhood as Paul Joseph “PJ” Moore, it was only at university, where Moore was studying electronics, that they became well acquainted, and the three friends became part of a band, first known as McIntyre (named after the John McIntyre Building, the university’s administrative offices) and then Night by Night, although Buchanan later commented that Night by Night only played “twice, maybe three times” in their short existence. The band struggled to retain a settled line-up, and by 1981 Buchanan, Bell and Moore were the only remaining members.
Renaming themselves the Blue Nile (after the title of the 1962 book by Alan Moorehead), the group managed to raise enough money to record and release their first single, “I Love This Life”, on their own Peppermint Records label.
The most commonly told story about the Blue Nile is that in 1983 they were approached by local hi-fi manufacturer Linn Products and asked to produce a song that would showcase the Linn equipment to best effect: Linn were so pleased with the resulting record that they offered the Blue Nile a contract to make a whole album, and set up their own record label specifically to release the album.
Although there has never been an official statement to clarify whether the Blue Nile still exist or not, the indications are that the band has split up. There appears to be disagreement among the band members themselves as to whether they will ever make another record together.
In 2019, the band’s major label albums were re-issued on vinyl, with a re-issue of High charting at number 74 in the UK charts after being released by Confetti Records on 5 June 2020 as vinyl or double CD edition.
As a reminder, here is The Blue Nile as they were in 1990, in concert from Manchester.