Title - 'The First Of A Million Kisses: Expanded Edition'
Artist - Fairground Attraction
For those not in the know, Fairground Attraction were a British folk and soft rock band. They are best known for their hit song 'Perfect' and the subsequent single 'Find My Love', and for helping to launch the career of lead vocalist Eddi Reader.
Based around the brilliant songwriting of founder Mark Nevin and the remarkable voice of Reader, Fairground Attraction established themselves overnight as one of the UK's most popular bands of the late 1980s with the release of the classic single 'Perfect' and it's parent (and only) album The First Of A Million Kisses - 1989's Brit Awards Album Of The Year.
The First Of A Million Kisses is now reissued and expanded (oh boy, is it ever expanded) this January 16th, 2017 via Cherry Red Records (UK). Including nine (9) previously unreleased recordings - four previously unreleased songs and five demos - and eight (8) other non-album tracks only previously issued on long out of print Live In Japan release, this 2-CD set is a must-have for all fans of the band.
Compiled with songwriter and bandleader Mark Nevin the sleeve notes include interviews with both Mark Nevin and singer Eddi Reader. Inclusive also of a bunch of rarely-heard 7" single B-sides (remember them!), this immense, and highly warranted 2-CD collection begins gently with the soothing sway of 'A Smile In A Whisper' and backs it with the aforementioned number one hit single, 'Perfect'. The finger-snappin' song that reached number one on the UK Singles Chart in 1988, even today when listened back to is as fresh-sounding, as joyous, as vibrant, as hopeful as it was back all those years ago.
The lovely, Irish storytelling behind 'Moon On The Rain' is next and is followed by both subtle mid-tempo 'Find My Love' and then the song from whence their name originated, 'Fairground Attraction'. The vocal range of Reader is brought to the fore on the beautiful 'The Wind Knows My Name', which is backed by the upbeat, New Orleans jazz flow of 'Clare', the laid back memories of 'Comedy Waltz', and then both another finger-snappin' track in 'The Moon Is Mine' and the slow burn of 'Station Street'. Next up, and rounding out the original album, are the love story pairing of both 'Whispers' and 'Allelujah'.
Bringing together a unique blend of folk, jazz, country, and cajun elements, and inclusive of ten songs intended for its follow-up (for, and sadly, this was the only album released by the band before their break-up in 1990), the bonus tracks on the first disc continue the Fairground Attraction vibe just perfectly. First we get 'Falling Backwards', then comes the beautiful 'Mythology', before the family struggles brought forth within 'Trying Times'. One of my own personal favorites is the upbeat, Latinesque vibe of 'Winter Rose' where the instruments are given the floor, Reader's vocals acting much like backing vocals.
For 'Ay Fond Kiss' we get back to the ethereal vocal performance stance from Reader, before heading into 'You Send Me', the guitar-flirty 'Watching the Party'. The first disc is this incredible double album then comes to a close with the haunting medieval lyrical flirtation of 'Jock O' Hazeldean' and then the slow blues and snare drum appeal of 'The Game of Love'.
The second disc opens with the under-two-minutes long, almost solo acoustic 'Mystery Train', before heading into a stunning Beatles cover, 'Do You Want to Know a Secret?' Wow, what a delightfully beautiful, just perfect rendition it is and not one I'd ever heard from them before now. Next up is a live snapshot of the band from their Japan dates ('The Waltz Continues', 'Don't Be a Stranger', 'Dangerous', 'I Know Why the Willow Weeps', 'Home to Heartache', 'Fear Is the Enemy of Love', 'Broken By a Breeze', 'Goodbye to Songtown' - before a select run of Demo's are loving remastered for our listening pleasure.
With their collective instrumentation mainly acoustic, but in part inclusive of a double bass and basic, non-intrusive rhythmic percussion, all overlaid by Nevin's tight, clean and distinctive guitar solos, those kick off with 'I May Never Be Queen', 'Prayer To St Valentine', 'Swing Trumpet' and then ebb seamlessly into 'Red Ribbon', 'Find My Love', 'Mythology' and 'Station Street'. This 19 track second disc then comes to a close with both 'The Moon Is Mine' and a stunning cover of American country music artist Patsy Cline's recorded 'Walking After Midnight (Version)'.
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