Paul Kelly: Time

Time is the first in a series of themed compilations from Paul Kelly, the Australian singer-songwriter and musician, made up of 30 tracks from his notable career. The compilation is available on streaming platforms and for download; a CD version is also in the works. The format suggests an increased interest in releasing work in different ways, as per the 2020 surprise digital only album Forty Days, a set of original and cover songs recorded during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The compilation selects tracks from 18 albums from 1985 to 2019, namely (here we go, stat lovers) Post (1985), Gossip (1986), Under The Sun (1987), So Much Water So Close To Home (1989), Comedy (1991), Hidden Things (1992), Wanted Man (1994), Deeper Water (1995), Songs from the South (1997), Nothing But A Dream (2001), Ways and Means (2003), Foggy Highway (2005), Stolen Apples (2007), Live Apples (2011), Spring and Fall (2012), Seven Sonnets & A Song (2016), Nature (2018), and Thirteen Ways To Look At Birds (2019).

Of these, Ways and Means is the most plundered (with four tracks, “The Oldest Story In The Book”, “Young Lovers”, “To Be Good Takes A Long Time” and “Won’t You Come Around?”), followed by Spring and Fall (three tracks – “Time And Tide”, “For The Ages” and “Little Aches And Pains”), and then Nothing But A Dream (“The Pretty Place”, “I Wasted Time”), Gossip (“Before Too Long” and “Randwick Bells”), and Songs from the South (“Winter Coat”, “Before Too Long”). The remainder is made up of a track from each album, in no particular order.

Time also features four previously unreleased tracks. There are three recent live recordings, two from 2022 (an emotive “Deeper Water” and the gentle singalong “From Little Things Big Things Grow”) and one from 2021, a soulful version of “Love Never Runs On Time”. Of most interest to Kelly fans will be the new studio recording and song, “Back to The Future”, which serves as a suitable lead-off track for the collection, asking “if we could go back to the future, would you?” With an engaging brass interlude, it’s an engaging song, but 37 years too late for the popular film of the same name.

There’s a wealth of material on the collection, sometimes with a tenuous link to time, with the theme stretched to encompass the past and memory (“The Pretty Place” and “When I First Met Your Ma”). It includes a good mix of well-known classics (“How To Make Gravy”, “Won’t You Come Around?”, “Winter Coat”, “Before Too Long”) and more obscure or “deep” cuts (“The Magpies”, “Buffalo Ballet”, “Going About My Father’s Business”, “Song of the Old Rake”). The inclusion of songs from early albums Post and Gossip will delight Kelly’s hardcore supporters.

Standout tracks on this compilation surely include “The Oldest Story In The Book”, “For The Ages”, and “If I Could Start Today Again”, but this will be down to the listener’s preference. Kelly says that he has always felt that we don’t have much time and he’s right, but at least his discography and career suggest a life well lived.

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Label: Gawd Aggie/Cooking Vinyl
Release Date: 17 JUN 2022