EDDI READER-THE BEST OF EDDI READER.

EDDI READER-THE BEST OF EDDI READER.

Eddi Reader was twenty-eight when Fairground Attraction signed to RCA. The next three years were a roller coaster for Fairground Attraction.

Their debut single Perfect was released in April 1988, and reached number one in the British singles charts. Fairground Attraction slice of pop perfection whetted record buyer’s attention for Fairground Attraction’s debut album.

Just a month later, the genre-melting The First Of A Million Kisses was released in May 1988. This captivating album of pop, folk, jazz and cajun began climbing the charts. Eventually, it reached number two, and was certified platinum in Britain. Meanwhile, Fairground Attraction’s music was finding an audience much further afield.

In Australia, Perfect had topped the singles charts, and in New Zealand it reached number four. Then The First Of A Million Kisses reached number nine in the Australian album charts. For Eddi Reader, Mark E. Nevin, Simon Edwards and Roy Dodds they were living the dream.

A year earlier, Fairground Attraction had just signed to RCA. By July 1988, their sophomore single Find My Love reached number seven in Britain. Then in November 1988, A Smile In A Whisper became the third single to be released from The First Of A Million Kisses. It reached just eighty-eight in the British charts. While this was disappointing, 1988 had been the stuff of dreams. Surely 1989 couldn’t get any better?

As 1989 dawned, Fairground Attraction released their fourth and final single from The First Of A Million Kisses. The song that was chosen, was Clare. However, it peaked at just forty-nine. Again, this was slightly disappointing. However, Fairground Attraction were in for a pleasant surprise.

On the 13th February 1989, the great and good of British music gathered together at the Royal Albert Hall. When the winners were announced, Fairground Attraction swept the board. Not only did Perfect win the award for best single; but The First Of A Million Kisses won award for the best album. For Eddi Reader, all the years she had spent serving her musical apprenticeship was worthwhile.

Following their triumph at the Brit Award, Fairground Attraction released a cover of Alan Block and Donn Hecht’s Walkin’ After Midnight. It was originally covered by Patsy Cline, and now, Fairground Attraction gave the song a makeover. However, the single reached just ninety-seven in the British charts. By then, Fairground Attraction were on tour.

Fairground Attraction had headed stateside, and toured America. Next stop was Japan, as Fairground Attraction continued to win friends and influence people. For the girl who had grown up in Glasgow and Irvine, in Scotland, Eddi Reader couldn’t believe how her life had been transformed. It was like a fairy tale.

Sadly, there was handsome Prince and no happy ending. By the time Fairground Attraction began recording their sophomore album in September 1989, rumours suggested that all wasn’t well within Fairground Attraction. Sources close to the band reported arguments in the studio. Sadly, this turned out to be true, and in January 1990, the announcement came that Fairground Attraction had split-up.

Incredibly, just eleven months after winning two Brit Awards, Fairground Attraction were no more. Despite this, Fairground Attraction released their sophomore album in July 1990. Ay Fond Kiss featured unreleased songs, B-Sides and cover versions. The misspelt Ay Fond Kiss still managed to reach fifty-five in Britain. By then, Eddi Reader had returned home to Scotland.

Although Eddi Reader had decided to embark upon a solo career, she was dipping her toe into the world of acting. Eddi Reader had been cast as Jolene Jowett, a singer and accordionist in Joh Byrne’s comedy drama Your Cheatin’ Heart. Acting would be something that Eddi Reader would return to. However, from now on, Eddi Reader would be concentrating on her solo career.

Eddi Reader’s solo career and her career with Fairground Attraction is documented and celebrated on The Best Of Eddi Reader. This thirty track double album was recently released by Reveal Records. Fittingly, The Best Of Eddi Reader starts with The Fairground Attraction years.

From the Fairground Attraction years, just a trio of songs have been chosen. This includes Fairground Attraction’s first two singles, Perfect and Find My Love. However, the other track Whispers, from The First Of A Million Kisses. It’s a beautiful ballad, which is the perfect showcase for Eddi Reader’s heartfelt, tender vocal. Even then, it was obvious that if push came to shove, that Eddi Reader could survive without the rest of Fairground Attraction.

After the recording of John Byrne’s comedy drama Your Cheatin’ Heart, Eddi Reader was ready to think about her solo career. It must have been a daunting prospect. Up until then, she had part of a band. That had been the case since she was a backing singer with the Gang Of Four, right through to her time with Fairground Attraction. Being a solo artist was a totally different prospect. Now Eddie Reader was the star of the show. It was her, and her alone that people came along to see. For most artists in a similar situation, this took some getting used to. Eddie Reader seemed to embrace her new role as a solo artist. 

Mirmama.

Having moved home to Scotland, Eddi Reader returned to London to record her debut solo album. In London, Eddi began working with her new backing band, The Patron Saints of Imperfection.  Roy Dodds, Neill and Calum MacColl would accompany Eddi on what became her debut album, Mirmama.

For Mirmama, Eddi recorded eleven songs. They were mixture of cover versions and new songs. Among the cover versions were Fred Neil’s Dolphins and Craig Wiseman and Steve McEwan’s My Old Friend The Blues. They feature on The Best Of Eddi Reader. So does What You Do With What You’ve Got, which Eddie cowrote. This trio of tracks were among the highlights of Mirmama. 

Eddi reinvents Dolphins, where she briefly paying homage to Tim Buckely who also covered the song. Then Eddi delivers an understated country-tinged take of My Old Friend The Blues. They were just two of the highlights of Mirmama.

When critics received a copy of Mirmama, the album was credited to Eddi Reader With The Patron Saints Of Imperfection. The reviews of Mirmama were positive, and  critics agreed that Eddi Reader had seamlessly made the transition to solo artist.

This became apparent when Mirmama reached number thirty-four in the British charts. Eddi Reader’s solo career was underway.

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Eddi Reader.

By 1993, Eddi Reader was signed to ready to begin work on her sophomore album. She had enjoyed a spell as presenter of BBC Scotland’s short-lived music program No Stilettos. However, after that, it was a return to the “day job.”

This time, there was no sign of The Patron Saints Of Imperfection on her sophomore album. However, a familiar face made a return and Eddi worked with a new songwriting partner for the first time

Eddi’s new songwriting partner was Boo Hewerdine. He wrote two tracks, and cowrote three with Eddi. A familiar face from Eddi’s past contributed another four tracks, Mark E. Nevin. The former Fairground Attraction guitarist contributed three tracks; and Dear John which he had previously written with Kirsty MacColl. She decided not release the song, and offered it to Eddi. Her heart wrenching version of Dear John and Patience Of Angels features on The Best Of Eddie Reader, would become one of the highlights of Eddi’s sophomore album.

To record what became Eddi Reader, Eddi headed to El Mirador, California, where she worked with producer Greg Penny. He had previously produced K.D. Lang’s album Ingenue. With such an impressive track record, Eddi knew that Greg Penny would bring out the best in her.

That proved to be the case. When Eddi Reader was released in Britain in June 1994, it was to widespread critical acclaim. Critics hailed Eddi Reader’s sophomore album as a mini-masterpiece. Record buyers agreed.

When Eddie Reader was released, it was Eddi’s first release for Blanco y Negro Records, a subsidiary of Warner Bros. The major label machine got behind Eddi Reader, as her eponymous album was released in Britain, America and Japan. In Britain, Eddi Reader reached number four. Eddi had repaid Blanco y Negro Records’ faith in her. 

Things got even better for Eddi Reader in February 1995, when Eddi Reader won her third Brit Award. This time, it was for the Best Female Singer. While this was Eddi’s first as a solo artist, it was the third Brit Award of her career. Eddi Reader’s glittering career continued.

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Candyfloss and Medicine.

Just over a  year after winning another Brit Award,  Eddi Reader returned in July 1996 with her third album, Candyfloss and Medicine. This time, Eddi hadn’t journeyed to California to record Candyfloss and Medicine. Instead, she recorded the album in London.

By then, Eddi was maturing as a songwriter. She had penned eight of the ten tracks on the album with various songwriting partners. This included her half-brothers Neil and Calum MacColl and co-producer Teddy Borowiecki. However, Eddi’s most successful songwriting partnership was with Boo Hewerdine. They cowrote five of the songs on Candyfloss and Medicine. This included Semi Precious which they cowrote with co-producer Teddy Borowieck.

Recording of Candyfloss and Medicine took place at two studios in London. At The Snake Ranch and Eden Studios, Eddi and her band were joined by special guests Boo Hewerdine and Bernard Butler. Along with strings and horn sections, Candyfloss and Medicine took shape. One of its highlights was the  beautiful, country-tinged ballad, Semi Precious, which features on The Best Of Eddi Reader. It was, critics said one of the album’s highlights.

Prior to the release of Candyfloss and Medicine in July 1996, critics penned reviews of Eddi Reader’s third album. Again, critical acclaim, praise and plaudits accompanied the release of Eddi’s third album.  Eddi Reader critics felt, was maturing as a singer and songwriter with every album; and Candyfloss and Medicine was a truly captivating album.

When Candyfloss and Medicine was released, the album stalled at number twenty-four in Britain. This was slightly disappointing considering that Eddi Reader had reached number four. However, by 1996, Eddi was enjoying commercial success much further afield. Her albums were released in America and Japan, where she was a popular draw.

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Angels and Electricity.

It was nearly another two years, before Eddi returned with the followup to Candyfloss and Medicine, Angels and Electricity. For Angels and Electricity, Eddi had reunited with some familiar musical faces.

This included Mark E. Nevin, who contributed the album opener Kiteflyer’s Hill. Eddi’s regular songwriting partner Boo Hewerdine penned four of the thirteen tracks on Angels and Electricity. This included Wings on My Heels and Hummingbird. Boo and Eddi also cowrote Follow My Tears. These four tracks were among the highlights of Angels and Electricity, and would become staples of Eddi’s live sets. So it’s fitting that they feature on The Best Of Eddi Reader. They’re a reminder of one of Eddi’s best albums which was recorded at various studios.

As work began on Angels and Electricity, Eddi’s band had a familiar look to it. Keyboardist Teddy Borowiecki, drummer Roy Dodds and guitarists Calum and Neill MacColl had played on previous albums, and played a crucial part in the sound and success of Angels and Electricity.

Before the release of Angels and Electricity in May 1998, critics had their say on Eddi’s fourth studio album. The reviews were positive, with songs like Kiteflyer’s Hil, Please Don’t Ask Me To Dance and a cover Ron Sexsmith’s On A Whim receiving praise from critics. Buoyed by the reviews of Angels and Electricity, Eddi  eagerly awaited the release of the album.

Sadly, when Angels and Electricity was released, it peaked at forty-nine in the British charts. For Eddi this was a huge blow. Given the quality of the songs on Angels and Electricity, everyone expected the album to fare much better. However, things were about to get worse for Eddi.

Following the release of Angels and Electricity, Blanco y Negro Records didn’t renew Eddi’s contract. When her next album was released, she would no longer be signed to a major label.

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Simple Soul.

Three years after the release of Angels and Electricity, Eddi returned with her new album Simple Soul. It would be released on Rough Trade Records. However, Simple Soul was an album that very nearly wasn’t released.

Eddi had bought a some new recording equipment, and wanted to try it out. So with Roy Dodds, her drummer, who she had known since they were in Fairground Attraction, they decided to record some demos of new songs.

Together, Eddi and Roy recorded twenty-seven songs. When Eddi listened to the song’s understated, sparse sound she liked what she heard. Suddenly, she begin to think about releasing some of the songs. Eventually, she had picked eleven songs, which became Simple Soul. It would be released in January 2001.

Simple Soul was an album divided the opinion of critics. The majority were won over by the more intimate, understated sound. It showed another side to Eddi Reader. However, a few critics weren’t convinced. So record buyers had the casting vote.

When Simple Soul was released in January 2001, it was Eddi Reader’s first release for Rough Trade Records. The album sold well, and proved popular among her fans. However, Simple Soul failed to chart. This was  a first for Eddi Reader and an inauspicious start to life at Rough Trade Records.

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Driftwood.

Given the popularity of Simple Soul amongst her fans, Eddi decided to release a followup album. She was in an unusual position of releasing a second album of what were essentially demos and outtakes. Despite this, there was an appetite for the new songs.

With another sixteen songs to choose from, she had plenty material to choose from. Eventually, Eddi decided on twelve tracks which became Driftwood.

Rather than release Driftwood via a record company, Eddi decided to self-release her sixth studio album. Copies of Driftwood were sold on her Simple Soul tour. Again, Driftwood’s much more intimate, understated sound found favour among Eddi’s fanbase. So would her next album.

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Eddi Reader Sings The Songs Of Robert Burns.

Eddi’s next album was a very personal one. As a child, Eddi had moved from Glasgow to Irvine, Ayrshire. It was in Ayrshire, that Eddi discovered the work of Scotland’s bard Robert Burns. Suddenly, Eddi was introduced to what she called: “an alternative Scottish beauty and language.” She was captivated by Burns’ work; and this was the start of a lifelong love affair.

In 2003, Eddi decided to record an album of Robert Burns’ work set to music. So set about arranging and recording some of Robert Burns’ best known and best loved work. 

With her regular band, plus Boo Hewerdine and folk artists like Phil Cunningham, Kate Rusby and John McCusker, Eddi headed to CaVa Studios in Glasgow. That’s where Eddi Reader recorded her tribute to Scotland’s bard.

When Eddi Reader Sings The Songs Of Robert Burns was complete, it featured eleven of the bard’s finest works. This included Ae Fond Kiss, Wild Mountainside, Willie Stewart and My Love Is Like A Red Red Rose, which feature on The Best Of Eddi Reader. These songs take on new meaning, as Eddi’s breathes new life and meaning into the familiar words. Critics agreed.

Eddi Reader Sings The Songs Of Robert Burns received critical acclaim. It received some of the best reviews of Eddi’s solo career, and is now regarded as one of her finest solo albums. That’s despite what a third rate politician said recently in the House Of Lords. Back in January 2003, Eddi Reader Sings The Songs Of Robert Burns was released to overwhelming critical acclaim.

After the release of Eddi Reader Sings The Songs Of Robert Burns, it became apparent that Eddi’s music was finding a much wider audience. Burns aficionados had discovered Eddi Reader’s music. They regarded the album as a fitting tribute to their hero. With praise, plaudits and critical acclaim ringing in her ears, it was a proud moment for Eddi Reader. She was  a proud nationalist, who had sung one of the bard’s songs at the opening of the Scottish Parliament. Six years later, she would revisit Robert Burns’ work. By then Eddi would’ve released another album.

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Peacetime.

Four years after the success of Eddi Reader Sings The Songs Of Robert Burns, the First Lady of Scottish music returned with another album, Peacetime. It would feature an all-star cast.

To play on Peacetime, Eddi had recruited some of the best British traditional folk musicians. They were joined by what Eddi believed were some of top contemporary musicians. This included some of the best players in their chosen genre. With such an experienced band, this was an exciting time for Eddi.

For Peacetime, Eddi chose a mixture of traditional and new songs. This included Robert Burns’ Leezie Lindsay,  Boo Hewerdine’s Muddy Water and Declan O’Rourke’s Galileo (Someone Like You. They all feature on The Best Of Eddi Reader, and were regarded as highlights of Peacetime.

It had been recorded at Pure Records Studio, Yorkshire. Joining Eddi, were her regular band, Boo Hewerdine, John McCusker, Ian Carr, Ewen Vernal and Michael McGoldrick. They accompanied Eddi on the eleven songs that became Peacetime.

Just before the release of Peacetime in January 2007, reviews of Eddi’s eighth album were published. While most were positive, there was the odd dissenting voice. Mostly, though, critics were impressed with what was a genre-melting album. Everything from folk and jazz to a much more contemporary sound were showcased on Peacetime, which marked the return of Eddi Reader on Rough Trade Records.

It had been six years since Eddi released her last album on Rough Trade Records. A lot had happened since then. Her star was in the ascendancy, and she seemed as popular as ever. Especially in her native Scotland.

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Eddi Reader Sings The Songs Of Robert Burns.

With Scotland about to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Robert Burns birth in 2009, Eddi decided to record another seven of the bard’s poems. They had been arranged and recorded, and would be released as part of a Deluxe Edition of Eddi Reader Sings The Songs Of Robert Burns. 

The album was released on 12th January 2009, just in advance of the birth of 250th anniversary of Robert Burns birth, on 25th January 1759. Eddi Reader Sings The Songs Of Robert Burns was the perfect soundtrack as a nation celebrated the 250th anniversary of Robert Burns birth. For Eddi Reader it was another of her finest hours. However, before long, Eddi was back with a new album.

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Love Is The Way.

Just four months after the release of Eddi’s second homage to Robert Burns, she was back with her ninth studio album, Love Is The Way. It was released on Rough Trade Records, in May 2009.

Love Is The Way featured thirteen songs from Eddi Reader. They were an interesting selection of song. This included cover versions of songs by Brian Wilson and Fleetwood Mac, plus new songs from Jack Maher and Sandy Wright. Among the other songs were Boo Hewerdine’s Dragonflies; Declan O’Rourke’s Love Is The Way; and John Douglas’ New York City. John Douglas also cowrote Roses with Eddi Reader. These songs were  among Love Is The Way’s highlights; so it’s fitting that they feature on The Best Of Eddi Reader.

As the release of Love Is The Way approached, critics began to pen their reviews of Eddi’s ninth studio album. It was the first album that Eddi had produced herself. Mostly, the reviews were positive, but there were a few agnostics who hadn’t been won over by Love Is The Way. However, Eddi’s loyal fanbase begged to differ.

When Love Is The Way  was released, the album reached number 109 in the British album charts. As Eddi Reader approached her fiftieth birthday, she was still a hugely popular artist. Still Eddi’s albums sold well, and her tours always sold out. 

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Vagabond.

There was a gap of five years before Eddi Reader returned with her tenth, and most recent album. Vagabond was released in February 2014, by Reveal Records. A lot had changed in the past five years.

Eddi had written the fourteen tracks on Vagabond. It was the first album where Eddi had written every track. She also produced Vagabond, which was recorded in Eddi’s native Scotland with some familiar faces. 

Just like previous albums, Eddi was accompanied by some familiar faces. Boo Hewerdine, Ray Dodds, Ian Carr, John McCusker and Ewan Vernal all returned for Eddi’s tenth album. Along with Karen Matheson and Phil Cunningham, Vagabond took shape. Once Vagabond was complete, the release was scheduled for February 2014. 

When critics and fans heard Vagabond, they realised that the five year wait had been worthwhile. Especially given the quality of songs like Vagabond, Snowflakes In The Sun and Baby’s Boat. They were among the highlights of Vagabond, and feature some of Eddi’s best lyrics and most impassioned and emotive vocal. So it’s fitting that these songs feature on The Best Of Eddi Reader. This thirty track compilation is the the most comprehensive retrospective of Eddi Reader’s career so far.

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The Best Of Eddi Reader, which was recently released by Reveal Records, and encompasses a recording career that’s lasted twenty-nine eight years. From the Fairground Attraction years, right through to Eddi’s most recent solo album, Vagabond, it’s the most comprehensive overview of the career of the First Lady of Scottish music, Eddi Reader.

Now fifty-six, The Best Of Eddi Reader is a reminder, if any was needed of one of the most talented Scottish singer-songwriters of her generation. Proof of that are a number one single; platinum album and three Brit Awards. They’re just a few of the reasons why Eddi Reader is  the First Lady of Scottish music. Thirty more can be found on The Best Of Eddi Reader.

EDDI READER-THE BEST OF EDDI READER.

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