The Classic Album at Midnight – The Blue Nile’s A Walk Across the Rooftops

The Classic Album at Midnight – The Blue Nile's A Walk Across the Rooftops


Tonight (September 30th) on the world famous Classic Album At Midnight on Radio Nova we’re playing The Blue Nile’s A Walk Across the Rooftops.

The album is presented in full with no commercials or interruptions.

The early 1980s saw a new wave of groups emerge from Scotland, with the likes of Simple Minds, Big Country and Aztec Camera all enjoying chart success. Also emerging from this wave of talent was The Blue Nile.

The band was founded in 1981 in Glasgow by three friends attending the University of Glasgow – Paul Buchanan (vocals, guitars, synthesizers), Robert Bell (bass, synthesizers) and Paul Joseph Moore (keyboards, synthesizers).

Initially playing covers in local venues, The Blue Nile began to write their own material. They developed a synth heavy sound more in common with the Sheffield bands of the time than their Glaswegian neighbours.

The Blue Nile recorded several demos with engineer Calum Malcolm, who happened to be a friend of Ivor Tiefenbrun, founder of hi-fi manufacturer Linn. Tiefenbrun was on the lookout for acts to sign for a record label he was setting up. Upon hearing one of The Blue Nile’s demos he immediately offered the band a contract, though it took them nine months to accept.

We just got lucky that we’d found our way to an excellent engineer who knew the company,” PJ Moore said of their good fortune.

The Blue Nile spent five months recording their debut album A Walk Across the Rooftops in 1983. The process was drawn out by the band’s obsessive attention to detail. “They were always particularly sensitive to not doing the wrong thing and making sure it had absolutely the right emotional impact,” Calum Malcolm recalled.

Along with Bell, Buchanan and Moore, drums were played on the record by Nigel Thomas.

In its original release A Walk Across the Rooftops features seven tracks of moody synth bliss. Side A gives us A Walk Across the Rooftops; Tinseltown in the Rain; and From Rags to Riches. On Side B are Stay; Easter Parade; Heatwave and Automobile Noise. In 2012 a collector’s edition of the album was released with seven bonus tracks included.

A Walk Across the Rooftops was released on April 30th, 1984, the first record put out by the newly formed Linn Records. It peaked at number 80 on the UK album chart. Singles Stay and Tinseltown in the Rain reached numbers 97 and 87 respectively on the UK singles chart.

While A Walk Across the Rooftops failed to make much impact on the charts, it proved a favourite among music critics on its release.

The Blue Nile’s stunning debut album seduces the emotions as well as the senses, and instead of fighting its effect, the sensible thing to do is relax and enjoy it,” read Melody Maker’s review. “Great music is still being made,” wrote NME, who placed the album at number 28 on its albums of 1984 list.

Despite its lack of commercial success, A Walk Among the Rooftops earned a place in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

You can hear A Walk Among the Rooftops before you sleep tonight as we’re playing it in full on Radio Nova at midnight.