singer/songwriter PAUL KELLY has announced that he will
6 Aug Dublin Whelans ~ 15 euros
Means", Kelly's ninth collection of new songs since Post in 1985,
"A class act
for 20 years on his ninth album, grimy blues, carousing folk
"Disc one rattles
and blows like Highway 61 ghost-ridden by Hank Williams, a
"A record that
demands to be played loud and live . "Ways And means is a
"With Paul Kelly satisfaction is always guaranteed" - Logo ****
tracks such as Sure Got Me sit well beside other
Means) leaves you wishing that love in the real world could match
» From very early on in his career, Paul Kelly was recognized as one of the most significant singer/songwriters in the country. Inspired initially by the likes of Bob Dylan, Hank Williams, Lou Reed and Robert Johnson, Kelly’s narrative songwriting style was infused with wry observations, bittersweet emotions and enormous appeal
» The sixth of nine children, Paul Kelly was born in Adelaide, Australia in 1955 and attended a Christian Brothers School, where he played trumpet and captained the cricket team. After school he wandered around Australia for a few years, working odd-jobs and picking up a guitar along the way. He made his public debut singing the Australian folk song ‘Streets Of Forbes’ to a Hobart audience in 1974, and two years later moved to Melbourne, where the thriving pub-rock scene was being transformed by a surge of punk adrenalin. Paul Kelly and The Dots quickly became a local fixture, a hard-driving guitar band whose two albums, Talk and Manila, reflected a talent still in gestation.
» The break-up of The Dots in 1982 precipitated a fallow period during which Kelly was without a record contract. But moving to Sydney in 1984 helped break the spell; with a handful of cohorts such as guitarist Steve Connolly and bass player Ian Rilen, Kelly spent $3500 recording Post over a two week period at Clive Shakespeare’s recording studio. The album was a loosely structured song-cycle which followed a character’s transition from dissolution (White Train, Blues For Skip) through nostalgic longing (Adelaide, Standing On The Street Of Early Sorrows) to a final note of resolution (Little Decisions). The aching melodies and bittersweet tone of these 11 songs, along with their unapologetically Australian reference-points, marked a major leap in Kelly’s songwriting. Australian Rolling Stone hailed Post as the best record of 1985.
» By then Kelly was back in the studio with a full-time band consisting of Steve Connolly, drummer Michael Barclay, bass player Jon Schofield and keyboard player Peter Bull. Paul Kelly and the Coloured Girl (‘a joke name that stuck’) went into the studio with producer Alan Thorne in March 1986, emerging a month later with the remarkable double album Gossip, a collection of 24 songs which cemented Kelly’s reputation as a songwriter with a few peers. The range of material was again extremely broad, from the undulating electric piano groove introducing Last Train To Heaven to the rock-out raunch of the single Darling It Hurts, in which the song’s protagonist sees his girlfriend turning tricks on a Sydney street. Three tunes from Post were re-recorded with the full band, while Maralinga (Rainy Land) – a haunting evocation of the effects of British atomic testing on South Australian aborigines – was the first of several Paul Kelly songs which would chronicle the stories of indigenous Australians
» Edited down to a 15-song single album, Gossip was also the record which introduced Kelly to American audiences when it was released by A & M Records in July 1987. Bill Flanagan of Musician magazine described it as ‘striking’ and commended the songwriter for his ‘fresh ideas and startling images’. By now Kelly and the band were road-hardened and ready, having played 150 Australian gigs in one eight-month period. In May 1987 they returned to the studio with Alan Thorne to record Under The Sun, a collection of 14 new Kelly originals. After changing their name to Paul Kelly and the Messengers, the band headed out on a maiden venture into the US, which saw them traverse the continent twice in two months by bus. ‘Mr Kelly sang on smart, catchy three minute song after another – dozens of them – and the band played with no frills directness,’ wrote New York Times critic Jon Pareles after their performance at the Bottom Line club in New York.
» The 1989 album So Much Water, So Close To Home completed a transition that had been evident on Under The Sun, as Kelly’s writing on songs such as Sweet Guy and South Of Germany moved towards a narrative style populated by more fully-realised characters. Both the album’s title and the song Everything’s Turning To White drew from a short story by the American author Raymond Carver, a master of pared down prose. Produced by American Scott Litt, who had worked with R.E.M., So Much Water also had a stripped-back musical sound
» Despite the critical acclaim they had earned and the camaraderie evident in their live performances, Kelly and the Messengers dissolved their partnership in 1991 after one final album, Comedy. Again recorded by Alan Thorne in Sydney, the album was an 18 song collection which included the droll I Can’t Believe We Were Married and a song co-written with Aboriginal songwriter Kev Carmody, From Little Things Big Things Grow, which recounted the eight-year struggle for land by the Gurindji people of the Northern Territory
» An Australian tour in 1991 marked the final appearances of Paul Kelly and the Messengers, whose swan-song was Hidden Things, a compilation of 18 rarities and B-sides recorded over the previous six years. The album included several cover versions – Reckless by James Reyne, Pasture’s Of Plenty by Woody Guthrie, Elly by Kev Carmody – and two new originals, When I First Met Your Ma and Rally Round The Drum, which was co-written with Aboriginal songwriter Archie Roach
» ‘The Messengers were the first band I’d had that became an entity’, recalled Kelly. ‘We forged a style together. But I felt if we had kept going it would have got formulaic and that’s why I broke it up. I wanted to try and start moving into other areas, start mixing thing up.’
» Kelly had made the first steps towards ‘mixing things up’ when he worked with Archie Roach and the Aboriginal band Yothu Yindi in 1991. An early fan of Roach’s, he co-produced the singer-songwriter’s acclaimed debut album ‘Charcoal Lane’ with Steve Connolly. The Yothu Yindi connection came on a trip to the Northern Territory with Kelly collaborated with the group on ‘Treaty’, the song that became a surprise pop hit when it was remixed as a dance single
» A flurry of diverse projects followed over the next tow years. Kelly’s songs began to emerge more regularly on albums by other artists, both in Australia and overseas. Having honed his skills as a live performer, he recorded two concerts in Perth and Melbourne for the double-CD set of Live, May 1992, featuring 22 songs performed with the stark accompaniment of just his own guitar and piano. In early 1992 he was invited to write songs for ‘Funerals and Circuses’, a Roger Bennett play about racial tensions in small-town Australia. The play was acclaimed by critics when it was staged at the 1992 Adelaide Festival and also marked Kelly’s acting debut in the role of a petrol station attendant. Later that year he signed a contract with publishers Angus and Robertson for a book of his collected lyrics, contributed songs and vocals to the soundtrack of the television series ‘The Seven Deadly Sing’ and sang a duet with Mark Seymour – ‘Hey Boys’ – for the film ‘Garbo’.
» In 1993 Kelly moved to Los Angeles for nine months, where he began playing with an assortment of Australian and American musicians, including Detroit-born guitarist Randy Jacobs. In Los Angeles he also produced a new album for Australian singer Renee Geyer, ‘Difficult Woman’. Returning to Australia later in the year, he collaborated with Christine Anu and Angelique Cooer on ‘Last Train’, a dance remix of his 1986 song Last Train To Heaven which was heard all summer on Triple J.
» The book ‘Lyrics’, which collected Kelly’s song lyrics written from 1984-1993, was published in September. Reviewing it in the Melbourne Age, poet and critic John Forbes described the songs as ‘passionate, direct and forceful’. Kelly subsequently went into the studios with former Black Sorrows singers Vika and Linda Bull to produce their debut album. He then completed work on his tenth album Wanted Man, which featured 14 songs recorded in Australia and the U.S. with co-producers Randy Jacobs and David Bridie. The album had a funkier feel reflected in both its earthy lyrics (Just Like Animals, She’s Rare) and the more overtly black rhythms of songs like We’ve Started A Fire and the pop-soul single Song From The Sixteenth Floor.
» In 1994, Kelly recorded the mainly instrumental soundtrack for ‘Everynight…..Everynight’, a tough and unsparing feature film by director Alkinos Tsilimidos, set in the notorious H Division of Pentridge Jail in the 1970’s. The film made its debut in June 1994 at the Melbourne Film Festival. Later that year, Kelly began playing with a Melbourne-based group of musicians that included Randy Jacobs, guitarist Shane O’Mara, drummer Peter Luscombe, bassist Stephen Hadley, keyboard player Bruce Haymes and pedal steel player Graham Lee. Two live performances were taped in Melbourne and released as Paul Kelly Live At The Continental And The Esplanade originally available on mail-order an later brought out on general release. Over a nine month period they also recorded the 12 songs released in early 1996 as Deeper Water, an album which explored the more mature concerns of a songwriter approaching his 40th birthday and wrestling with issues of fatherhood and mortality. Writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, critic Mark Mordue said the album secured Kelly’s reputation as songwriter and evinced an ‘unusual intensity and warmth’. Kelly dedicated the album to his old confrere Steve Connolly, who had died the year before from unexpected medical complications following an operation.
» Throughout this period Kelly continued to tour as a live performer throughout Europe, Canada, the U.S. and Australia, playing solo or with musicians such as guitarists Spencer Jones and Shane O’Mara. By early 1996 a permanent band had coalesced around O’Mara, Haymes, Luscombe and Hadley (the latter two formerly with the Black Sorrows), with Spencer Jones a semi-permanent fixture. After a national tour to promote Deeper Water, the band recorded several songs which were released as the four-track EP How To Make Gravy in late 1996. In early 1997 they recorded a new single, Tease Me / It Started With A Kiss, and began rehearsals for Paul Kelly’s twelfth album of new material, to be released later that year. A long-awaited retrospective compilation, the 20-song Songs From The South: Paul Kelly’s Greatest Hits, was released in June 1997
» In three short but oh-so-sweet days on sale, Paul Kelly’s first retrospective album, ‘Songs From The South’ was certified Gold. In just under a fortnight Australia’s most pertinent singer/songwriter went Platinum
» In 1997 Paul Kelly was inducted into the ARIA Hall Of Fame, acclaimed as Best Male Artist and arrived at #1 with his greatest hits album, ‘Songs From The South’
» 1999 was a watershed in Kelly’s career, when he signed to EMI, under his own imprint, Gawd Aggie, and almost immediately issued not one but two albums, Smoke and Professor Ratbaggy, the former rough and ready interpretation of Kelly classics with Melbourne bluegrass outfit Uncle Bill, the second a dub-funk-reggae product of jam sessions with the regular Melbourne muso mafia mentioned earlier
» Nothing But A Dream was released on August 13 2001. It is a fresh take on Kelly’s songwriting tradition. He wanted to make a reflective singer/songwriter album and gathered material while working on his other projects, waiting for the moment to put together the pieces. All 11 songs on Nothing But A Dream started out with just Kelly and guitar. Melancholy, introspective and poetic, some of them began life in the shed at the bottom of his garden in Melbourne, which doubles as his mini recording studio. Several of those songs, such as the hauntingly beautiful If I Could Start Today Again, Change Your Mind and the closing Smoke Under The Bridge remain relatively untouched from those solitary recording sessions
» Paul Kelly, in collaboration with Professor Ratbaggy and Shane O’Mara, wrote the music for the Ray Lawrence film Lantana, starring Anthony La Paglia and Geoffrey Rush, which had its premiere at the opening of the Sydney Film Festival in June 2001. He worked with Uncle Bill’s Gerry Hale on the score for the film Silent Partner and completed his film cycle by collaborating on music for the Rachel Perkins movie One Night The Moon, in which he also appeared along with Kaarin Fairfax and daughter Memphis
» In 2002 Paul Kelly was awarded ‘Best Adult Contemporary Album for Nothing But A Dream’ and ‘Best Original Soundtrack for Lantana’ at the 2002 ARIA Awards
» May 2002, The Women at the Well was released. This album is a collection of his songs sung by his female contemporaries. The recordings on The Women at the Well – more than half of which are new to this compilation, the others timely reissues – are ample evidence of both the affinity that women feel with Kelly’s art, and their willingness to give it a playful twist. Oh-so-familiar melodies are thrown intriguingly out of kilter; lyrics that once seemed all sweetness and light take on sardonic and witty overtones; innocent-sounding loves songs become devil’s playgrounds for sexuality, seduction, betrayal and desire. For young women such as Kasey Chambers, Christine, Adalita Srsen of Magic Dirt and Lash, Paul Kelly’s songs were the AM-radio soundtrack from their childhoods. For long-time Kelly collaborators such a Renee Geyer, Vika and Linda Bull, Kate Ceberano and Deborah Conway, he has been a mentor, producer, co-writer and friend
» In 2003 Paul Kelly was awarded a Golden Guitar for ‘Best Country Duet’ with Troy Cassar Daley
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