Monday, 13 September 2010

Affecting Albums - Gossip - Paul Kelly and The Coloured Girls

(Click on the song titles to have a listen to them on Spotify)

Number 2 in the series of Affecting Albums falls to Paul Kelly and the Coloured Girls, and their album Gossip (1986).

This was the second album that Paul Kelly released, after 1985's acoustic effort Post. In fact, four songs from his first album made it onto Gossip, getting the "full band" treatment. The mid 80's was a golden age of live music in Melbourne, and Paul Kelly was an integral part of the scene that was then developing.

Gossip marks the true start of Kelly's recording career, in that it set his style as a singer/songwriter who is at his best telling stories through song, and who sings songs very redolent of place. Most songs on Gossip are straightforward pop, but their lack of cliche, and the way they spoke directly to audience's life experiences proved instantly popular, and since this album Kelly has never looked back, to become the Australian music icon he is today.

The album has many highlights - the quintessential Melbourne song Leaps and Bounds, with the classic opening verse -

I'm high on the hill
Looking over the bridge
To the M.C.G.
And way up on high
The clock on the silo
Says eleven degrees

I remember...

To Victorians of a certain age these lines bring back images that remain as vivid today as they did 25 years ago. Sydney was not forgotten either, with another classic song, Randwick Bells.

There was an early sign of Kelly's concern with Aboriginal affairs in Maralinga (Rainy Land) a haunting and effective evocation of Aboriginal suffering connected with the atomic tests in Australia in the 60s. This song is musically the most unusual, with a droning monotone effect that piles on the pressure until the final ironic verse -

they said do you speak English?
he said
I know that Jesus loves me I know
because the bible tells me so

While these three songs may be what I remember first off, it would be remiss not to mention Before too long, and Darling it Hurts, which became the hits from the album, and had wide radio play.

Another factor in the brilliance of this album was it's size - depending on the version purchased, you got 20 or 24 songs for the money, and not a bad one among them.

Gossip (the full 24 song version), is available on iTunes. Check it out.

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