The Blue Nile-Hats (Linn Records, 1989)
The Blue Nile are a not-terribly-prolific (4 albums in nearly 30 years) Scottish band, who so impressed a non-record-releasing hifi company with their songs that they set up a label in order to release their music.
I love two Blue Nile songs- debut single 'I Love This Life', which is bloody impossible to find in any kind of physical format; it's on a 2004 single currently going for silly money on eBay but that's it- and 'The Downtown Lights', which is on this LP. I've never actually managed to listen all the way through.
On first listen the album is exceedingly 80s. It's almost entirely electronic and chockablock with synths but hasn't dated badly at all. TDW is still brilliant and definitely the best thing here, but there are songs of similar quality galore; 'Over The Hillside', 'Headlights On The Parade'...
With over half the songs being more than 5 minutes long, this isn't a particularly instant or commercial album, and it requires concentration, but it is a rewarding listen. A couple of uptempos break up any possible monotony; Paul Buchanan's voice tends to sound mournful no matter what he sings.
This got huge critical acclaim when it came out (e.g. 5 star Q magazine review) and I'd probably agree with that. For an album which came out an eternity ago in music terms, it bears up to scrutiny very well