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The Blue Nile is an adult alternative/pop band from Glasgow, Scotland. The music of The Blue Nile is built heavily on synthesizers and electronic instrumentation and percussion, although later works have featured acoustic guitar more prominently.


The band was formed when friends Paul Buchanan (born April 16 1956, Glasgow) and Paul Joseph Moore met Robert Bell shortly after graduating from the University of Glasgow in the late 1970s. Previously Robert and Paul were the key members of the band 'Night by Night' who had a small but enthusiastic following in the Glasgow area - they had made demos of songs like 'Rio' and 'Stay' but were not commercial enough at the time - had they continued with this trajectory, we may never had the Blue Nile. Although their individual degrees didn't reflect their future career trajectory (English Literature, Electronics and Mathematics, respectively), their mutual friendship grew out of their shared interest in music, and they began writing and recording together. They formed their own label, Peppermint Records, on which they released their first single, "I Love This Life", which was later picked up and issued by RSO Records. Soon afterward, RSO was absorbed into Polygram, and The Blue Nile's first single disappeared from view, as did the band.

1984 saw a greater exposure for the band throughout Europe with the videos for their two singles "Stay" and "Tinseltown in the Rain" often shown on the pre-MTV video channel Music Box.

Still, the trio kept writing and recording over the next couple of years, including a couple of tracks that would later surface on their debut album. When local Hi-Fi manufacturer Linn Electronics heard their music, the company offered the band money to record a track that would showcase the sonic range of the company's high-end audio equipment. Linn was so pleased with the result, they formed their own record label in order to release The Blue Nile's debut, A Walk Across the Rooftops, in 1984. Although it received positive reviews, it sold modestly.

After a prolonged delay in which an entire album's worth of work was scrapped, The Blue Nile released Hats in 1989 to rave reviews, including a rare five-star rating from Q magazine. The album was recorded in the same studio as much of their previous work, Castlesound in Pencaitland, East Lothian. This album, which explores the highs and lows of romantic love, is considered by most critics and listeners to be the band's most enduring work. At the time, Hats reached #12 on the UK album charts and even slipped into the Billboard 200 in the United States. Rickie Lee Jones, a huge fan of the band, personally selected The Blue Nile as her opening act for her 1990 tour. She would later record a duet with them, a cover of the band's own "Easter Parade", which was featured as a B-side to the single "Headlights on the Parade".

In 1993, the band worked on Annie Lennox's debut album, Diva; she in turn covered "The Downtown Lights", from Hats, for her album Medusa, released in 1995.

A year later, The Blue Nile finally released their long-anticipated follow-up to Hats, entitled Peace at Last. In a radical departure from the band's prior two albums, the record is primarily driven by Buchanan's acoustic guitar. Even a gospel choir makes a brief appearance on the leadoff single, "Happiness". Despite the release of Peace at Last on a major label, the album sold poorly, and the critical reaction to the album was more mixed. However, "Family Life" was singled out for praise by most critics and listeners, many of whom consider it an instant classic.

After the longest gestation period between albums – eight years – The Blue Nile released High in 2004. Although acoustic guitar is still present on some tracks, the overall musical sound is more reminiscent of Hats, and as a result, the record has once again received almost universal critical praise.

Current activities

Paul Buchanan and Robert Bell toured England and Scotland in May and June 2006, followed by Scotland and Ireland in November 2006, billed as "Paul Buchanan sings the songs of The Blue Nile". The band consisted of Paul Buchanan on vocals and guitar; Robert Bell on bass guitar and keyboards; Alan Cuthbertson and Brendan Smith on keyboards; Stuart McCredie on guitar; and Liam Bradley on drums. The future of The Blue Nile under that name is unclear in the light of this tour.

Paul Buchanan is currently collaborating with Shirley Manson (lead singer of Garbage) on her upcoming highly anticipated solo album.

Paul Buchanan and Robert Bell will be playing at the Manchester International Festival on July 14th 2007 at Manchester's Bridgewater Hall. Although advertised as The Blue Nile it is likely that PJ will not be playing with them and that the same band as the 2006 tour will be utilised once again.

Bridgewater Hall's own website has the details - "One of the jewels of British music, The Blue Nile have infrequently yet consistently created music of rare truth and beauty. For their first appearance in more than seven years they perform their only UK show at Manchester International Festival. The perfect Saturday night".

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