One of the most intriguing parts of the Paul Kelly story is how he effectively erased his first two albums.
Paul Kelly and the Dots recorded two albums in the early 1980s - Talk and Manila.
These days, you can't buy those CDs in store, they're not available on iTunes or Spotify and none of their songs are on any of Kelly's three greatest hits packages.
It's because Kelly doesn't want people to hear those records, so he's eliminated them. Though that action has bumped up their price on the collectors' market - either of those albums will cost you at least $100 these days.
He managed to do so because Mushroom, his record company at the time, granted him the rights to those two albums before selling everything to Rupert Murdoch.
And so Kelly controls those records and does his best to act as though they don't exist, as though his recording career started with 1985's Post.
For Stuart Coupe, author of the first biography of Kelly, it's disappointing that these recordings have been razed from Australian music history.
"It remains one of the greatest music mysteries," Coupe says, "why does he not allow anyone to hear those first two albums?"
"I firmly believe the Manila album is great. I love that record - it's a great Paul Kelly record, it's a great rock record. I'm not as fond of Talk, his first album, but it's got some really great songs on it."
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Coupe asked Kelly why he did it - the answer was because he didn't like the songs or the way he sang them. But Coupe also quotes music critic David Fricke who offers perhaps a more accurate reason.
That early '80s period was when Kelly was using drugs - most notably heroin - which led him to missing a gig or two. Music is sticky; memories attach themselves to it quite easily. For Fricke, it's simply that those albums remind Kelly of that time, which he'd rather forget.
Kelly also gives that era little attention in his best-selling memoir How to Make Gravy.
Perhaps unfortunately for Kelly, it's also a period that drew Coupe in, partially because it had received so little attention. Coupe's biography is 343 pages and Kelly's pre-Post career takes up the first 100 or so.
"I think the development and evolution of any artist is, in some ways more interesting," he says.
"It's 'where did they come from?', 'how did they develop?, 'how did they get to where they are? that to me is particularly interesting.
"Paul's book is terrific but there were a lot of omissions and that was his decision. It was his memoir and he wrote about what he wanted to write about.
"I didn't go back and re-read it. In fact I read very little that's been written about Paul in the course of this book.
"Instead I talked to all the people who by the very nature of Paul's book, didn't have a voice in How to Make Gravy, which was everyone else who had been around him, contributed to his creativity, toured with him, played with him, collaborated with him, been in relationships with him."
That includes Coupe himself; the music journalist was Kelly's manager for a chunk of the 1980s.
Coupe says Kelly was a bit cautious about an ex-manager writing a biography but figured someone was going to do it eventually, so better it was someone he knew.
Even if they had hardly crossed paths in decades - when Kelly heard about the book he and Coupe had spoken to each other twice in more than 20 years.
That didn't stop Kelly sitting down to talk to Coupe for the book and point out some factual errors - though he didn't request that any sections were removed.
Kelly's career has spanned 40 years, which is unusual in itself. What else is unusual is the huge uptick he's experienced over the last decade, with his music crossing generational boundaries.
Coupe says that started when a book of Kelly's lyrics was included on the Victorian equivalent of the HSC, exposing his work to a teenage audience. Getting on bills like The Falls Festival and Splendour in the Grass didn't hurt either, nor did Kelly's genuine interest in the latest sounds.
For Coupe, this longevity is something no one could have predicted back in Kelly's early days.
"Someone once said to me, if you want to look at the late '70s heroin-drenched punk and post-punk Melbourne and try and think of two artists who would not only be alive in 2020 but at a creative high and a peak of popularity, the names Nick Cave and Paul Kelly would not have sprung immediately to mind."
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