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Paul Kelly

Singer/songwriter Paul Kelly captures Australia in his songs the way Bruce Springsteen or the Kinks' Ray Davies have encapsulated their homelands, and he does it with the musical energy and diversity of Elvis Costello. The sixth of nine children, Kelly was born in Adelaide in 1955. After school he wandered around Australia for a few years, working odd jobs, writing poetry, and thinking about a career as a short-story writer. He was already in his late teens when he picked up a guitar. Kelly made his public debut singing the Australian folk song "Streets of Forbes" to a Hobart audience in 1974, and two years later, he moved to Melbourne to join R&B pub band the High Rise Bombers. With a large lineup and three songwriters, the band's splintering was inevitable and Kelly formed his own group, Paul Kelly & the Dots.

Kelly immediately established himself as his peers' favorite songwriter. On nights off, Melbourne musicians went to see him. He also had a big fan at Mushroom Records. One of the company's PR people locked herself in a room, refusing to come out until Mushroom signed Paul Kelly & the Dots. The result was two roots rock albums, Talk and Manila, which Kelly himself was never completely happy with given his perfectionism. By late 1984, Kelly had broken up the Dots and moved to Sydney, where he recorded a defining solo album called Post. Without a record contract and no real idea about how the album was going to be released, Post was recorded over two weeks on a shoestring budget, delivering the essence of Paul Kelly in a loosely structured song cycle signposting Adelaide, Melbourne, and Sydney place names the way Springsteen speaks of New Jersey. On the strength of that album, Mushroom picked up Kelly's contract again, and the singer formed a new group, Paul Kelly & the Coloured Girls (a reference to Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side").

In September 1986, Kelly's songwriting skills spilled over four sides of the 14-song double-album Gossip. Recorded in just a month, the classic Australian rock album attained gold sales and produced the hit singles "Darling It Hurts" and "Before Too Long." The album included three re-recorded songs from Post. Gossip was also the record that introduced Kelly to American audiences when it was released by A&M in July 1987, edited down to a 15-song single album. In the meantime, the group returned to the studio to record a collection of 14 new Kelly originals for its second Australian album, Under the Sun. To avoid misunderstandings, the group changed its name to Paul Kelly & the Messengers with the release of July 1989's So Much Water, So Close to Home. The new album was produced by Scott Litt of R.E.M. fame and its songs were colored by American influences and experiences. After one more album, Comedy, Kelly decided the group had gone as far as they could, and to avoid the risk of repeating themselves, he dissolved the Messengers with a farewell tour.

For the next two years, Kelly recharged his batteries with a set of diverse activities, like performing in Australia and America, producing the groundbreaking Charcoal Lane album by aboriginal songwriter Archie Roach, collaborating on Yothu Yindi's "Treaty," writing songs for his acting role in the stage play Funerals and Circuses (about racial tensions in small-town Australia), and releasing his first book of poetry, Lyrics. His second studio solo album, 1994's Wanted Man, spread his musical influences as wide as his activities. His 1997 greatest-hits album Songs from the South sold double platinum (a second volume didn't appear until 2008). In 1999, he delivered two very different albums at the same time, a bluegrass album with Uncle Bill called Smoke and a technology-influenced album with a new group, Professor Ratbaggy.

Kelly was prolific in the 21st century, releasing Nothing But a Dream in 2001, the double-disc Ways & Means in 2004, the bluegrass-inflected Foggy Highway in 2005, and an album with the surf-influenced band Stardust Five in 2006. Stolen Apples found him back in traditional form in 2007, and a live album from the Stolen Apples tour was released in 2008. In 2010, the Australian radio outlet Triple J paid homage to Kelly on the occasion of his 30th anniversary as a live performer with a special live concert featuring a variety of artists interpreting his songs. The show was broadcast and later released on the album Before Too Long: Triple J's Tribute to Paul Kelly. That same year, Kelly published a memoir, How to Make Gravy, and a documentary on his life and work, Paul Kelly: Stories of Me, was released. In 2012, Kelly released Spring and Fall, a concept album about the beginning and end of a romance. In early 2013, Kelly teamed up with another Antipodes pop icon, Neil Finn, for a major duo tour of Australia; the show spawned a live album, Goin' Your Way that was recorded at the Sydney Opera House and released in their homelands in November 2013, while a belated American release followed in December 2015. Late 2014 saw the release of The Merri Soul Sessions, a set of soul- and R&B-influenced tunes that were recorded live in the studio with guest vocalists Clairy Browne, Kira Puru, Linda Bull, Vika Bull, and Dan Sultan. ~ Ed Nimmervoll
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Paul Kelly Presents - The Merri Soul Sessions

1. Smells Like Rain (Feat. Linda Bull)

2. What You Want (Feat. Vika Bull)

3. Keep On Coming Back For More (Feat. Clairy Browne)

4. Sweet Guy (Feat. Vika Bull)

6. Don't Let A Good Thing Go (Feat. Dan Sultan)

7. Where Were You When I Needed You (Feat. Clairy Browne)

8. Thank You

9. I Don't Know What I'd Do (Feat. Kira Puru)

x

Track List: Spring And Fall

1. New Found Year

2. When A Woman Loves A Man

3. For The Ages

4. Gonna Be Good

5. Someone New

6. Time And Tide

7. Sometimes My Baby

8. Cold As Canada

9. I'm On Your Side

10. None Of Your Business Now

11. Little Aches And Pains

x

Track List: Stolen Apples

1. Feelings Of Grief

2. God Told Me To

3. Stolen Apples Taste The Sweetest

4. Sweetest Thing

5. You're 39, You're Beautiful And You're Mine

6. The Lion And The Lamb

7. Right Outta My Head

8. Keep On Driving

9. The Ballad Of Queenie And Rover

10. The Foggy Fields Of France

11. Please Leave Your Light On

x

Track List: Words And Music

1. Little Kings

2. I'll Be Your Lover

3. Nothing On My Mind

4. Words And Music

5. How To Make Gravy

6. Gutless Wonder

7. Tease Me

8. I'd Rather Go Blind

10. Beat Of Your Heart

11. It Started With A Kiss

12. Glory Be To God

13. Saturday Night And Sunday Morning

14. Charlie Owen's Slide Guitar

15. Melting

x

Track List: Deeper Water

1. Blush

2. Extra Mile

3. I'll Forgive But I Won't Forget

4. Queen Stone

5. Deeper Water

6. Madeleine's Song

7. Difficult Woman

8. Give In To My Love

9. I've Been A Fool

10. Anastasia Changes Her Mind

11. California

12. Gathering Storm

x

Track List: Comedy

1. Don't Start Me Talking

2. Stories Of Me

3. Winter Coat

4. It's All Downhill From Here

5. Leaving Her For The Last Time

6. Brighter

7. Your Little Sister (Is A Big Girl Now)

8. I Won't Be Your Dog Anymore

9. Take Your Time

10. Sydney From A 727

11. Buffalo Ballet

12. I Can't Believe We Were Married

13. From Little Things Big Things Grow

14. Blue Stranger

15. Keep It To Yourself

16. You Can Put Your Shoes Under My Bed

17. Invisible Me

x

Track List: Post

1. From St Kilda To Kings Cross

2. Incident On South Dowling

3. Look So Fine, Feel So Low

4. White Train

5. Luck

6. Blues For Skip

7. Adelaide

8. Satisfy Your Woman

9. (You Can Put Your) Shoes Under My Bed

10. Standing On The Street Of Early Sorrows

11. Little Decisions

x

Track List: Nothing but a Dream

1. If I Could Start Today Again

2. Change My Mind

3. Midnight Rain

4. I Close My Eyes and Think of You

5. Somewhere in the City

6. Just About to Break

7. Love Is the Law

8. The Pretty Place

9. I Wasted Time

10. Would You Be My Friend

11. Smoke Under the Bridge

x

Track List: Ways & Means

Disc 1

1. Gunnamatta

2. The Oldest Story in the Book

3. Heavy Thing

4. Won't You Come Around?

5. These Are the Days

6. Beautiful Feeling

7. Crying Shame

8. Sure Got Me

9. To Be Good Takes a Long Time

10. Can't Help You Now

11. Nothing But a Dream

Disc 2

1. Little Bit O' Sugar

2. Forty-Eight Angels

3. Your Lovin' Is On My Mind

4. You Broke a Beautiful Thing

5. My Way Is to You

6. Curly Red

7. King of Fools

8. Young Lovers

9. Big Fine Girl

10. Let's Fall Again

Comments

Report as inappropriate
Iconic. Brilliant. Paul is nothing short of brilliant and resilient.
Report as inappropriate
its odd because it has been right. Saw the ozzy Paul live in Boston several years back...great show.
Report as inappropriate
Wow...disapp o i n t i n g , Pandora...
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donjackson61 7
I knew he was from the south
Report as inappropriate
youngrobert4
The REAL Paul Kelly (yes guys he's from Oz)
http://en.wi k i p e d i a . o r g / w i k i / P a u l _ K e l l y _ % 2 8 m u s i c i a n % 2 9
Report as inappropriate
C'mon guys,get it together, he's definitely from Oz
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obviously no one reads these posts except those of us struck by how wrong this bio is!
Report as inappropriate
Definitely Paul Kelly from Down Under...why don't you fix this. Some of these post are two years old?
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adam.tfl
wrong paul kelly pandora!
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mannie7
Well at least the music is our bona fide Aussie Paul. But geez, how'd they mix up these artists?
Report as inappropriate
rw8d4
my confidence in pandora has plummeted... . t w o VERY different Paul Kelly's!! shame on you pandora...
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wrong Paul Kelly
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lucol89
As many have noted this Bio is for the wrong Paul Kelly. Please update it and let everyone know about the real iconic Australian, Paul Kelly....
Report as inappropriate
wrong paul kelly!
Report as inappropriate
This Bio is for the wrong Paul Kelly!
Report as inappropriate
One and only....
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A fine Aussie institution. . . .
Report as inappropriate
wlynum9
This is the wrong Paul Kelly!!!
Report as inappropriate
cosmocleo
How about adding the other Paul Kelly. An incredible and under appreciated soul singer (biggest hit "Stealin' in the Name of the Lord"). He is also a fine songwriter, e.g. "Personally" recorded by Karla Bonoff. Thanks.
Report as inappropriate
I Like this guy's music. Nice stuff !
Report as inappropriate
I like Paul Kelly.
Report as inappropriate
I enjoyed "Extra Mile" from Deep Water Album.
Report as inappropriate
One of the best live shows i've seen, and i've seen everybody. His music has the same emotional impact of Springsteen and Ray Davies, as mentioned above, without sounding anything like either of them. This man deserves to be heard and appreciated.

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