In discussion with truly-madly on “Hats” by The Blue Nile (1989).
How did you come across this album for the first time?
In my early teens I was quite nerdily into hi-fi – it didn’t stop there to be honest – so there would always be a copy of „What Hi-Fi“ knocking about, covered in drooled saliva at the valve amp page. The magazine had a small music review section – I don’t recall usually paying much attention to this but for some reason I read the entry for „Hats“. I don’t remember what it said but something in it must have appealed to my inner angst – nor did that stop there either – at that time. Surely the word ‘melancholy’ was used. So I bought it blindly (the cassette). At that time I was listening to bits of everything, early House, Synth Pop, Indie, and I was buying vinyl but had this odd mental divide that meant I would buy albums on cassette and singles on 12”. And actually I only finally bought „Hats“ on vinyl fairly recently – random find at Rough Trade Portobello in London.
Why did you choose „Hats“ for this interview? What are its special credentials for you?
It would probably be too difficult to choose a House or Techno album, which might be the natural thing to do, and this was the first that came to mind otherwise. I still think it’s quite obscure in a way, despite being part of the mainstream, and seemingly more popular than I realised.
My first encounter with The Blue Nile was probably hearing „Tinseltown In The Rain“ on the radio, from their first album „A Walk Across The Rooftops“, released in 1983. Do you like that as well?
I like all their stuff but don’t remember anything pre-“Hats“. I now know Tinseltown was some kind of hit but don’t directly recall it from the radio, etc. But occasionally I’ll hear it, in a cab or something, and think there is more to it than simply having listened to it from the album, that maybe I did hear it around the time it came out. That first album, and „Hats“, they are the best ones for me.
For me it is a topic worthy of thorough academic research how the electronic music of the Synthpop era and beyond is so often pared with very charismatic lead voices. Is this only for contrast, or is there more to it?
Erm, is it too late to change my album? Read the rest of this entry »