Scottish vocalist Eddi Reader had sung behind the Gang of Four, Alison Moyet and Eurythmics; joined by guitarist/songwriter Mark Nevin (a onetime sideman of Jane Aire’s) and a lightweight rhythm section (Simon Edwards plays an acoustic guitarron in lieu of bass) she led the short-lived Fairground Attraction, a folky star in the UK jazz-pop heavens. The First of a Million Kisses is the quartet’s only full album, a wonderful, bewitching romance of airy music and Reader’s strong, supple voice. From svelte Everything but the Girl-styled elegance (“A Smile in a Whisper”) to fuller-figured pop (“Perfect”) to Costelloesque folk (“Moon on the Rain”) to minimalist Latin-inflected R&B (“Find My Love”) to shuffling Dixieland (“Clare”), the catchy songs and intimate performances never fail to charm. (The CD adds two Nevin-penned non-LP songs from the Perfect EP, which also boasts an a cappella rendition of “Mystery Train.”)
The album was followed by a pair of additional EPs drawn from it; each contains (in some configurations) three non-LP sides. (A Smile in a Whisper has the inevitable reading of Patsy Cline’s “Walking After Midnight.”) After Fairground Attraction broke up in the summer of ’89, the group’s label assembled Ay Fond Kiss, a compilation of B-sides and leftovers titled for a song on the Find My Love EP.