Human Frailty Pty Ltd
Paul Kelly is one of Australia's best known and talented songwriters with a narrative song writing style that set him apart from very early on it his career. Born in 1955, Kelly travelled around the country before settling in Melbourne in late 1976 and soon after joining an R&B pub band called the "High Rise Bombers". There were a massive seven members in this band which suffered many line-up changes before disbanding in 1978.
From the remains of the "High Rise Bombers" band Kelly formed "Paul Kelly and The Dots". After building a reputation around Melbourne and shifting the members a little more, in late 1979 the independent label debut 7" EP "Recognition" was released.
After signed to Mushroom in early 1980, Paul Kelly and the Dots achieved some success with the singles "Seeing Is Believing" and "Billy Baxter" (#38). The debut "Talk" album in 1981 (#44) contained the non charting single "Lowdown".
Following yet more line-up changes, the "Manilla" album was released in August 1982 and failed to chart. Two singles were also released from this album ("Clean This House" and "Alive and Well"). Kelly also contributed to the "Starstruck" soundtrack single "Rocking Institution" in 1982.
By August 1983 Paul Kelly had broken up the Dots and formed a new band. The final result of this was Paul Kelly's personalised stripped back acoustic sound on his May 1985 solo "Post" album. The album yielded the impressive "From St. Kilda To Kings Cross" single. Around the time of the release of "Post", Kelly had formed "Paul Kelly & The Coloured Girls", which was to lead to more commercial success than Kelly had ever experience before. As with all line up's in the past, there were many changes before it settled down.
In September 1986 Paul Kelly and the Coloured Girls issued the classic double album "Gossip" which reached #15 on the Australian charts (and was certified Gold). "Gossip" yielded the singles "Before Too Long" (#15), "Darling It Hurts" (#25), "Leaps and Bounds/Bradman" (#51) and "Look So Fine, Feel So Low". The band worked on the US market (where "The Messengers" was used instead of "The Coloured Girls" due to racial sensitivity), initially supporting Crowded House and then headlining.
Paul Kelly continued on the wave of success with the excellent 1987 album "Under The Sun", which produced the singles "To Her Door" (#14), "Forty Miles To Saturday Night" (#85), "Don't Stand So Close" and the hit "Dumb Things" (#36, also featured on the movie "Young Einstein").
"Paul Kelly and The Messengers" became the official name in Australia (as well as overseas) with the "So Much Water So Close To Home" album in 1989 (#10). Singles from this album were "Sweet Guy", "Careless" and the "Most Wanted Man In The World" EP.
The fourth Messengers album was the 18 track "Comedy" album in 1990 (#14), which contained the singles "Pouring Petrol On A Burning Man", "Don't Start Me Talking", "Keep It To Yourself" and "Wintercoat". This was to be the last full studio album from the Messengers as as they played their last shows together in August 1991 before disbanding. A collection of rare recordings and b-sides were released in May 1992 as "Hidden Things" and featured the great single "When I First Met Your Ma".
October 1992 saw the release of the "Live" double album, which did not do that well in the charts. By the stage of this album, Paul Kelly had became more of an albums artist, with many of the more recent singles not charting at all. Kelly produced albums for Renée Gayer and Vika and Linda around this time, as well as recording the soundtrack to "Everynight . . . Everynight" in 1994.
Kelly released his third solo album "Wanted Man" in July 1994, featuring a wide range of styles. Singles were "Song From The Sixteenth Floor", "Love Never Runs On Time" and "God's Hotel". Not much time had passed before the 1995 album "Deeper Water" which contained the singles "Summer Rain", "Give In To My Love" and "Deeper Water". By the end of 1995 a second live album called "Live At The Continental and the Esplanade" was released. By the end of 1996, the EP "How To Make Gravy" was released.
In May 1997 the excellent double A-sided single "Tease Me"/"It Started With A Kiss" was released as a precursor to the 20 track 'best of' collection "Song From The South". This best of is excellent and highly recommended. It was good to see this album debut at #2 and go on to sell more than any Paul Kelly album in the past.
The "Words and Music" album peaked at #17 following it's May 1998 release. It contained the singles "Nothing On My Mind", "Saturday Night Sunday Morning" and "I'll Be Your Lover".
Proving himself to be an incredibly prolific songwriter, Paul Kelly signed with EMI in 1999 and released two very different albums at the same time. The first was "Smoke" (Uncle Bill with Paul Kelly), a collection of Kelly tracks given the bluegrass country treatment which managed to work and reached #36. The second was "Professor Ratbaggy" (with that name as the artist as well) which was a mix of funk, R&B and reggae and contained the singles "White Trash" and "Coma".
In 2000 Paul Kelly released a solo EP "Roll On Summer" which just scraped into the Australian top 50 singles. A new Paul Kelly album "Nothing But A Dream" was released on the 13th of August 2001. The singles released were "Somewhere In The City", "Love Is The Law", the beautiful "If I Could Start Today Again" and "Just About To Break". On the 1st of July 2002 a bonus disc version of "Nothing But A Dream" was released with five additional songs. This release was to coincide with a tribute album called "Women At The Well" which contained a selection of talented, prominent female artists giving their renditions of Paul Kelly tracks.
Paul Kelly returned with a vengeance in 2004 with the two CD love focused "Ways and Means" album (#13) on the 16th of February 2004. The album was preceded by the "Won't You Come Around" EP, which contained an interesting cover of Nick Cave's "Nobody's Baby Now".
Paul Kelly swapped styles to bluegrass again for the "Foggy Highway" album in March 2005. This swinging album included reinterpretations of some old songs along with a handful of new tracks. This album increased Paul's country music following, an usual feat for a rock musician.
Paul Kelly has performed with Hunters and Collectors before, as is shown by the "Parting Glass" recorded on the US promo EP "Raw Material" (1988) that features him. Furthermore, Paul Kelly and Mark Seymour teamed up for the "Garbo" movie soundtrack single "Hey Boys" around 1991. Paul Kelly and Mark Seymour also teamed up for the lyrics on the final Hunters and Collectors single "Suit Your Style".
Kelly has a knack for producing melodic pop rock music with an intelligent narrative twist. We highly recommend checking out Paul Kelly's music if you have not already!
Check out Dumb Things - A thorough, excellent Paul Kelly web site.
Bottom photo by Ken Morse, 1998.