Today is the release of the 30th Anniversary edition of Shiver, Jenny Morris' classic second album which features her hit recording of Paul Kelly's "Street of Love". To celebrate, let's dive into it and some other fab PK covers recorded over the years. Enjoy!
Jenny Morris - "Street of Love"
Paul Kelly loves writing songs for women, and women love singing Paul Kelly songs. "Street Of Love", or "Beggar On The Street Of Love" as its writer named it when he recorded and released a version a year or so after Jenny's version, is one of several songs that Paul gave to female singers to record before eventually recording them himself. Jenny remains faithful to PK's melodic folk-rock stylings in her version, and you can bet he absolutely loved hearing Jenny's unaffected voice sing his song. Shiver also includes a song Jenny co-wrote with Paul Kelly, called "Self-Deceiver", which seem to be bear a stronger influence of album producer Andrew Farriss. "Street of Love" later resurfaced on an all-female collection of Paul Kelly covers called The Women At The Well which featured a couple of older recordings (the Anne Kirkpatrick recording below included) along with new recordings by Chrissy Amphlett, Kate Ceberano, Deborah Conway and Kasey Chambers but sadly that collection is currently unavailable.
Renee Geyer - "Difficult Woman"
Paul Kelly wrote this one for Renee and produced the 1994 album of the same name, which prompted something of a career revival for the great Australian soul singer, who would become something of a leading light on the Melbourne contemporary roots music scene that Paul had long had a foot in. Geyer later told the ABC: "I think some of the best things that he's ever written have been when he's written for somebody else. He's got an uncanny way of putting things that a billion people have said a million times, but he has a way of making it sound like it's the first time you've heard it. And that's why he's such a great writer." Renee later used the title for her autobiography, Confessions of a Difficult Woman, and Paul subsequently recorded the song himself for his 1995 album Deeper Water.
Anne Kirkpatrick (and Kelly Willis) - "Cradle of Love"
One of my favourite versions of a Paul Kelly song – and indeed one of my favourite Paul Kelly songs – is the fabulous 1993 recording of "Cradle of Love" from Slim Dusty's daughter, Anne Kirkpatrick. An overlooked and vastly underrated figure on the Australian music scene, Anne was singing Emmylou Harris and Gram Parsons songs to Australia's country music audience back in the 70s, decades before Kasey Chambers was doing something similar. She has a beautiful and pure voice and nails this gorgeous song, which was undoubtedly written for a woman to sing. "Cradle of Love" was also recorded by American Kelly Willis, and Paul eventually cut it himself for 2010's The A To Z Recordings. Let's hear Kelly & PK perform the song at Tamworth in 1999 as well as Anne's version.
Vika & Linda - "I Didn't Know Love Could Be Mine"
This is one Paul Kelly never released, unfortunately, but at least we have this version (even if it's not on YouTube), which is a highlight of the Bull sisters' much-loved first album. Paul Kelly produced the album the same year he produced Renee's Difficult Woman, and in both instances, he gave the artist a handful of songs. This one – a tremendous Stonesy rocker - dates back to Paul's days playing the Melbourne pubs with the Dots – it’s one of a small arsenal of fantastic tunes he wrote for the Dots and never recorded. Of course, an early champion of Paul Kelly & the Dots was Joe Camilleri – see our next selection – who was also responsible for bringing the Bull sisters to prominence in his Black Sorrows days, so there are some nice connections in this one.
Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons - “Only The Lonely Hearted”
The first Paul Kelly cover ever released – in fact very nearly the first Paul Kelly song ever released (the Dots' independently released 7" EP beat it only by a few months) – "Only The Lonely Hearted" (or "Only The Lonely Heart" as Paul originally sung it – was a highlight of the Falcons’ breakthrough LP Screaming Targets, and popular live song for the Dots when PK was first making a name for himself in the inner city pubs of Melbourne. Joe Camilleri was an early fan and became something of a mentor for the young singer-songwriter (the Dots' near hit “Billy Baxter” bares the Jo Jo Zep influence clearly), who was still relatively fresh off the bus from Adelaide.
Jimmy Little - "Randwick Bells"
One of the many highlights of Jimmy Little's 1999 Messenger album, which saw Australia's first indigenous country and pop star find a whole new audience via sublime versions of contemporary Australian songs by the likes of The Church and the Go-Betweens. Paul Kelly's lyricism and sense of melody, of course, fit Jimmy to a tee.
Screaming Jets - "Darling It Hurts"
From the sublime to ... well, Paul Kelly was very much a pub-rocker back in the day, so this kind of makes sense... Taken from the Screaming Jets' 2018 collection of Aussie pub tunes Gotcha Covered.
The Johnnys - "Bleeding Heart"
And speaking of pub rock, Sydney's rocking cowpokes The Johnnys were inner-city pub faves in the 80s alongside Paul Kelly & The Coloured Girls. Fronted by long-time Paul Kelly associate the late great Spencer P Jones (who moved from Melbourne around the same time Paul did, and who later played on "How Do You Make Gravy") the Johnnys were playing Paul's "White Train" before it appeared on Gossip, and they co-wrote this beauty which is as great as anything on that much-loved Paul Kelly breakthrough album.
As if any evidence was needed that Paul Kelly's songs resonated with younger generations, 2009 saw the advent of Before Too Long: Triple J's Tribute To Paul Kelly. A concert and then live album, it included performances from the likes of Paul Dempsey, Megan Washington, John Butler, Adalita, Dan Sultan, Clare Bowditch (who got to sing two of Paul's greatest: "Deeper Water" and the universally loved "To Her Door") and Missy Higgins, who performed a plaintive and beautiful "(You Can Put Your) Shoes Under My Bed".