Eddi Reader Biography

Sadenia Reader, 28 August 1959, Glasgow, Scotland. Formerly lead singer of Fairground Attraction, Reader has enjoyed an acclaimed solo career throughout the 90s and into the new millennium, always taking care to select complementary musicians and material, partly as a result of her previous chastening experience of the music industry.

Having spent eight years as a session singer (nicknamed ‘Ever Ready’ because of her willingness to accept any offer of work, ranging from Gang Of Four and the Eurythmics to Tesco adverts), Reader eventually reached number 1 in the UK charts with Fairground Attraction’s ‘Perfect’ in May 1988. The band broke up after only one album (The First Of A Million Kisses) because of internal tensions between the band and songwriter Mark Nevin. Reader appeared in John Byrne’s BBC drama series Your Cheatin’ Heart before embarking on a solo career at the turn of the decade. She relocated to Kilmarnock with Fairground Attraction drummer Roy Dodds, and set about recording material at the Trash Can Sinatras’ studio. The two of them took the demos down to London, where they met guitarist Neill MacColl (son of Ewan MacColl and half-brother of Kirsty MacColl). With the addition of bass player Phil Steriopulos, Reader’s new ‘backing’ band, the Patron Saints Of Imperfection, was complete. RCA Records invested heavily in the artist, resulting in several expensive sessions, including stints at Jools Holland’s studio in Greenwich, London. Guests included Holland, multi-instrumentalist Calum MacColl and fiddler Aly Bain. When the album eventually emerged after several re-recordings, it was given impetus by a strong suite of cover versions, including Loudon Wainwright III’s ‘The Swimming Song’, Fred Neil’s ‘Dolphins’, Steve Earle’s ‘My Old Friend The Blues’ and John Prine’s ‘Hello In There’. Its title, Mirmama, was taken from the Yugoslavian word for peace, ‘mir’, and arose because of a story Reader had encountered about a speaking Madonna which had appeared in Herzegovina. However, sales failed to match RCA’s expectations, with the album just scraping into the UK Top 40.

Afterwards Reader appeared live with the Trash Can Sinatras, sang at 1993’s Virago Women’s Day celebration, and presented a BBC2 Scottish music television series. She also appeared in a London theatre production of The Trick Is To Keep Breathing. A second, self-titled album, on the Warner Brothers Records’ subsidiary Blanco y Negro, followed in June 1994. Produced by Greg Penny (the man behind k.d. lang’s Ingenué), the album debuted at UK number 4 and included the Top 40 hit ‘Patience Of Angels’, one of several compositions by Boo Hewerdine. Other credits included three songs co-written with Teddy Borowiecki, and four from Mark Nevin of Fairground Attraction, now the two parties had buried their past. The only retained musician was Roy Dodds, who joined Dean Parks (guitar), Nevin (guitar) and Borowiecki (accordion).

In 1996, a change of image revealed a 50s glamour queen. Following her recording of Gene Pitney’s ‘Town Without Pity’, which broke into the UK Top 30, Reader confessed ‘I’m really into that torch stuff, Marlene Dietrich, Gilda with Rita Hayworth - there’s something really attractive about it’. She returned to a more straightforward style for 1998’s Angels & Electricity, which included superb readings of Hewerdine’s ‘Bell, Book And Candle’ and Ron Sexsmith’s ‘On A Whim’. Reader left Blanco y Negro shortly after completing a promotional tour. She debuted on the Rough Trade Records label in 2001 with the low-key Simple Soul. Reader followed this up with an album’s worth of interpretations of the poems and songs of Robert Burns, the ‘national poet of Scotland’, recorded with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. In the 2006 New Years Honours list she was awarded an MBE for Services To Music.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.