Thursday, February 18, 2010

Paul Kelly - Stolen Apples


I'm really fucking annoyed.  Let me tell you why.

Late last night, I spent a good deal of time reading and researching about Paul Kelly and had started writing this review.  I was really pleased with what I had down and went to bed with the songs from this wonderful album in my head and a satisfied smile on my face, intending to finish it off today.

It was just too good to be true.  When I came back to it this morning, everything I had written was gone.  I can't be arsed going back and trying to rehash it.  You're just gonna have to believe me when I say it was a stunning tribute to one of Australia's most loved troubadours.  He's responsible for writing or co-writing some true Australian classics such as Yothu Yindi's Treaty, and his own To Her Door, Dumb Things and From Little Thing Big Things Grow.

Stolen Apples is his eighteenth studio album and is every bit as relevant a part of his extensive recording career as anything he's previously released.  If there is a voice of contemporary Australian music, then Paul Kelly's is the one.  His muse roams wide as this wide brown land although as I write this, it's been raining heavily all day.  But this is also evocative of Paul Kelly and his many moods.

He knows no bounds either musically or lyrically, whether it's personal country odes to the love of his life (You're 39, You're Beautiful And You're Mine), modern folk songs about Australian legends (The Ballad Of Queenie And Rover) or fictional studies of despicable characters (God Told Me To), Kelly proves once more why he's one of the greatest.



Paul Kelly has the honour of being the first artist I ever bought unheard, purely at the recommendation of a music magazine, the now-defunct and curiously named weekly tabloid RAM.  And my experience of Post in 1985 was so overwhelming, he's been a firm favourite ever since.  On that album he chronicled his moves - from his place of birth in Adelaide and then from Melbourne to Sydney in From St Kilda to Kings Cross, together with his experiences with heroin when he got to the Big Smoke - Incident on South Dowling.

Because Kelly tells his life like it is - and he tells other people's lives, and he makes up stories.  I love him because he does best when he's telling you a story.  Even non-Australians may have experienced his craft, with his version of a Raymond Carver story - So Much Water So Close To Home - becoming part of the soundtrack to the award-winning Australian movie Jindabyne, based on the same story.

Any movie set in the sunburnt country would be the better for featuring his iconic, laconic Aussie drawl.  He's as Australian as a kookaburra, and just as delightful.   In his many incarnations, with the Dots and the Messengers and the Coloured Girls, Kelly's songs paint a picture of the Australian experience I would encourage anyone planning to visit to experience before getting on a plane.  They'd be just as good as a travel guide, and far more enjoyable.

*sigh* This also means we gotta buy Post and Gossip at least on CD, huh YourZ?  They're languishing on vinyl right now, and I miss them! (YourZ sez: I'll add 'em to the list, honey buns...)


For more information:
Or for a listen to some of Australia's finest artists playing the great man's songs in a tribute concert:
In our collection, we also have Songs From The South, and So Much Water So Close To Home

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