Sunday, 5 June 2011

12. The Blue Nile - Peace At Last

This is hard to write. The Blue Nile are special and Hats is one of my favourite ever albums with A Walk Across The Rooftops and High not far behind. So, with loving three quarters of their total output unconditionally, why shy away from Peace At Last? Firstly, look at the sleeve. Does that inspire confidence? Secondly, the thing that works so well with The Blue Nile is the way the steely synths and the cold drum machines contrast with the warmth and longing of Paul Buchanan's voice. So when I read that for Peace At Last the band had turned to acoustic guitars for a more natural sound I was automatically put off. With good reason it turns out. The opening song, Happiness, is perhaps the blandest MOR pop song ever written and recorded, and brace yourself for 3.12 seconds in when the choir barges in - it is horrible. Maybe the rest of the record is better? Unfortunately not. With one staggering, jaw dropping, exception the record is grim. Look at the titles: Happiness, Sentimental Man, Love Came Down, Body and Soul. It's like Phil Collins, Mick Hucknall, and Chris Rea gathered together in attempt to write and record the blandest album they could. And remember, I LOVE this band

But... It's all worth it. Every naff sounding second is worth it, and more, all because of the seventh song, Family Life, one of Blue Nile's greatest songs, and hyperbole alert, one of the greatest pop songs ever written. It is perhaps the most un-rock and roll song ever written, and maybe because most of us lead un-rock and roll lives, it is truly moving. The strings fade away at the end and Buchanan sings:

'Jesus I go to sleep and I pray
For my kids, for my wife, family life.'

It's enough to make a grown man weep. Even a man who doesn't believe in god and has no kids.

Download Family Life, buy A Walk Across The Rooftops, Hats and High in full, and let's pretend this record never happened.

1 comment:

  1. Ha ha, your review made me laugh. The terrible trio of Collins, Hucknall and Rea is enough to give anyone nightmares. I've just got hold of all Blue Nile albums after hearing Paul Buchanan's Mid Air, although I haven't had time to listen to them yet. Is it best to start chronologically? I've not heard much by Blue Nile but I did like 'Let's Go Out Tonight' which he re-recorded with Craig Armstrong on The Space Between Us album.