ALL THAT JAZZ

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Front Page - Iain Shed­den spin­doc@ theaus­tralian.com.au

IN the spirit of ‘‘too much Paul Kelly is never enough’’ SD has been leaf­ing through the book of es­says that fol­lows the biopic of one of Aus­tralia’s great­est liv­ing song­writ­ers. In re­cent years, aside from the Melbourne-based singer’s recorded out­put, we’ve had his crit­i­cally ac­claimed au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, How to Make Gravy, a se­ries of con­certs, Con­ver­sa­tions with

Ghosts, set­ting to mu­sic the po­etry of WB Yeats, Al­fred Ten­nyson, Les Mur­ray and oth­ers, a pro­ject that is about to be re­leased as an al­bum and for which he will per­form more shows. Then there’s the film bi­og­ra­phy, Sto­ries

of Me, re­leased last year to co­in­cide with the re­lease of his lat­est al­bum, Spring and Fall. Fol­low­ing that there was a tour with Neil Finn, high­lights of which are about to ap­pear on DVD. Last month came the Paul Kelly and the

Por­traits ex­hi­bi­tion at the National Por­trait Gallery in Can­berra, launched si­mul­ta­ne­ously with his Paul Kelly — Sto­ries of Me Schools’ Ed­u­ca­tion and Cur­ricu­lum Pro­gram. He has been busy with his night job as well, per­form­ing ex­ten­sively over­seas to pro­mote Spring and

Fall, some­thing he will be­gin do­ing here next week with the start of a national tour, in which he will be play­ing the al­bum in full fol­lowed by selec­tions from his hu­mon­gous back cat­a­logue. In time for Christ­mas there will be Paul Kelly: The Board Game and a line of Paul Kelly mix ’n’ match con­fec­tionery. Per­haps not. How­ever, we do have Paul Kelly: The Es­says, a com­pan­ion to the film bi­og­ra­phy made by Ian Dar­ling last year that tracked Kelly’s life from as­pir­ing crick­eter as a boy in Ade­laide to the highly re­spected vet­eran muso he is to­day. It’s hard to imag­ine there is much left to know about some­one whose ca­reer has been so ubiq­ui­tous, but there are a few re­veal­ing mo­ments in the 10 es­says on the song­writer put to­gether by writer, broad­caster and Sto­ries of

Me pro­ducer David Leser. Jour­nal­ists Toby Creswell and The Week­end Aus­tralian

Mag­a­zine’s Richard Guilliatt are among the con­trib­u­tors who un­ravel some of the Kelly in­tri­ca­cies from dif­fer­ent parts of his ca­reer. Most en­dear­ing, how­ever, is the open­ing chap­ter, My Cousin the Song­writer, by Kelly’s cousin Alex McGre­gor, in which he ex­am­ines the sig­nif­i­cance, good and bad, of a large fam­ily (Kelly is one of nine chil­dren) spread across Aus­tralia in de­vel­op­ing a mu­sic ca­reer. As Kelly sought recog­ni­tion for his work in the early 1980s, writes McGre­gor, ‘‘an abun­dance of fam­ily was un­doubt­edly a boon . . . not least be­cause it guar­an­teed the be­gin­ning of an au­di­ence right across the coun­try, as well as a place to stay and the odd bar­be­cue to feed a hun­gry band’’. Hope­fully when Kelly hits the road next week he won’t have to rely on fam­ily hand­outs — not for the whole tour any­way. SD had the plea­sure of talk­ing to Aus­tralian pop diva Me­gan Wash­ing­ton last week as she pre­pared to record her new al­bum in Lon­don. The singer has spent most of this year in the English cap­i­tal writ­ing ma­te­rial for the record, just as she spent a few months in New York work­ing on its pre­de­ces­sor, 2010’s I Be­lieve

You Liar. That al­bum’s pop smarts were a long way off from her ear­lier jazz phase, so it will be in­ter­est­ing to see if she has moved on again this time. By way of a clue, Wash­ing­ton ad­mit­ted she had been lis­ten­ing to a lot of early 80s songs. ‘‘I’d never re­ally heard bands like Tears for Fears, The The and Talk Talk be­fore,’’ she said. ‘‘I’m not sure what the al­bum is go­ing to sound like but I’m re­ally into (Talk Talk song­writer) Mark Hol­lis at the mo­ment.’’ The al­bum is due late this year or early next year.

Paul Kelly is about to start a national tour

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