Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Music Review: “GREATEST HITS: SONGS FROM THE SOUTH: VOLUMES 1 & 2” by Paul Kelly

                  Songs From The South


America has Bob Dylan, The U.K. has the Beatles, Canada gave us The Guess Who, Joni Mitchell and Neal Young. Oddly, Australia, the other English speaking country in the world has translated very few artists to the shores of North America. Technically The Bee Gees were Australian. So was Olivia Newton John. Then, there was Men At Work.

But Paul Kelly is the iconic Australian answer to Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Neil Young and at times throughout his career he has been the Australian answer to The Byrds, Tom Petty, John Prine, Leonard Cohen and a host of other folk/rock/pop stars. His music runs the gambit from A-Z . If you are not acquainted with Paul Kelly’s body of work, here is another chance as this 2008 compilation is now available in America again, Songs From The South is being released along with the eight-CD, 105-song live box set  The A-Z Recordings and the book, How to Make Gravy which chronicles an event from 2004 where Paul performed over 100 of his songs, in alphabetical order and in between songs told stories about how they came to be written.

Paul Kelly is a natural born story teller and the tales between songs cover confessions, personal and family history as well as what it’s like to be on the road as a travelling musician. The writing is revealing, funny, cynically honest, and thought provoking. The lyrics and stories in the book cover the vast culture of Australia and may be eye opening for an American audience.

The album, “Songs From The South Vol. 1 & 2” are a cross section of Paul’s career, from his days as Paul Kelly and the Colored Girls (changed to Paul Kelly and the Messengers, initially for international releases, to avoid any possible racist interpretations.) He disbanded the Messengers in 1991 and since then has formed other groups as projects demanded.

Disk one covers the years with The Messengers and opens with the pub rock/folky flavored “From St. Kilda to Kings Cross”. other memorial tunes from this early period are the top forty hits “Before To Long” , “Darling It Hurts” and the highest charting Australian hit “To Her Door” as well as “Dumb Things” released back in 1988 it featured on the soundtrack to the Australian box office hit comedy "Young Einstein" and following on from the success of that film reached as high as #17 on the American rock charts.

Paul Kelly And The Colored Girls–Dumb Things

Disk two covers the years 1998 through 2008 and covers songs from the top 20 albums, “Words and Music”, “Professor Ratbaggy”, ”Nothing But A Dream” and “Stolen Apples” as well as projects such as “Stardust Five” and his solo hits. One of my favorites is a road song “Every Fucking City”, a tongue only partially in cheek take of touring night after night. Also included are the previously unreleased “Thoughts In The Middle Of The Night” and “Shane Warne” whose melody is based on a calypso song by Lord Kitchner, “London Is The Place For Me”.Paul_Kellysm

If you’re already a fan of Paul Kelly then you probably already know that he is doing a whirl wind American tour covering the A-Z repertoire. that’s 100 songs, done in alphabetical order with stories in between. It should be some kind of experience. Last night and tonight he is in CHICAGO at  Schuba’s , September 14-15  LOS ANGELES  Hotel Café, September 18-19  VANCOUVER Electric Owl, September 23-24  TORONTO The Dakota Tavern and September 26-27 NEW YORK The Rockwood Music Hall – Stage 2. Check your local ticket outlets for times. Fans of great music will not want to miss this.

The Dirty Lowdown

Article first published as Music Review: Paul Kelly - Greatest Hits - Songs From The South Vol. 1 & 2 on Blogcritics

Copyright © 2011 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved

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