Reason #297: Hats
Starting with this post I will no longer be using the phrase “why the ’80’s didn’t suck” in my headings. You all know what this here little blog is about by now, right? Anyway, with that out of the way, lets talk about Hats.
Hats, by The Blue Nile, is one of those albums that has reached mythical status among audiophiles, and for good reason. It sounds amazing. The production is crystal clear and full of detail. That the songs are first rate is a very pleasant bonus. The Blue Nile (or, really, Paul Buchanan and mates), works very, very slowly, and there is five long years between this album and their debut, A Walk Across The Rooftops. Now that may not seem like a huge gap today but it certainly was back in the ’80’s. If you spent longer than 2-3 years between albums your fans wouldn’t be there when you returned. 5 years is the same amount of time between The Stone Roses debut and its follow up, and look what happened to them. That was due to legal issues, though; this wait was down to the perfectionist nature of Buchanan, and the wait was worth it. The Downtown Lights is just stunningly beautiful, as is Headlights On The Parade. As Allmusic state, Hats is “an immensely warm and human album,”, and I cannot do better than that to describe this work of art. This is also one of the best examples I can think of where the cover art perfectly exemplifies the music within.
It wasn’t immediate for me, though. Sometimes it takes being at the right place at the right time in the right frame of mind to fully appreciate an album, and for me it was driving through the Napa valley at dusk. It was just the perfect soundtrack for the drive and it took me out of myself a bit, which I think the best music does. The music, and Buchanan’s voice aren’t for everyone, and this album is not the place I would start if you’re a newbie to the music of The Blue Nile. I’d go with Rooftops first. But if you stick with it and allow it to really sink in I think you’re in for a lifelong treat with this band.