Song of the Day, July 27: A Walk Across the Rooftops by the Blue Nile

BlueNileWalkToday’s song is the brilliant reinvention of a dogged musical trio. Paul Buchanan and Robert Bell were school chums in Glasgow. They met PJ Moore in college, and their shared love of music found them working — separately and together — in a number of short-lived bands. When the dust settled after graduation, the three were a mostly electronic covers band backed by a drum machine that only played Latin rhythms. Calling themselves the Blue Nile, they built a solid enough reputation to get some studio time and begin working on their own material. Engineer Calum Malcolm helped them refine their sound using state-of-the-art studio equipment. (In fact, their use of Linn equipment helped them land a label deal and led to a rumor that their first album was intended as a Linn demo disc.) Notoriously meticulous — they’ve only released four albums in 30 years — they took months to ink the deal with Linn, but the result was spectacular.

A Walk Across the Rooftops is a powerful album that exemplifies the less-is-more principle. The spare arrangements, centered on Buchanan’s raw ache of a voice and carefully layered keyboards with just enough guitar for warmth, take a while to grab hold, but once they do, the songs are powerful. The title track is a perfect introduction to the band and one of their finest moments.

Buchanan sings of a lonely journey through the city, pondering the object of his affections. A twilight, perilous walk, it provides the perfect backdrop for his ardor and uncertainty. The instrumental elements sneak in and around his vocal, bolstering the eerie feeling. “I am in love, I am in love with you!” he declares, before retreating into his inner monologue. Brilliantly crafted, it captures the fragility of deep emotion and the lonely power of an urban landscape.

Enjoy this beautiful song today.


About Robert Hulshof-Schmidt
Freelance writer, researcher, online comic vendor, and project manager. Fan of a wide range of music -- especially folk and 80s pop -- vintage comics, British TV, and LGBT fiction.

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