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Paula Kelley - Some Sucker's Life Part1

  by John Clarkson

published: 28 / 5 / 2006

Paula Kelley - Some Sucker's Life Part1
Label: Select Label
Format: CD


Versatile collection of demos and lost recordings spanning from the early 90's to the current day from American musician and singer-songwriter, Paula Kelley

In recent years Paula Kelley records have become increasingly large-scale. While her last album ‘The Trouble With Success’ featured a 21 piece orchestra and an 11 strong choir, her new 16 song odds-and-sods collection, the self-mockingly titled ‘Some Sucker’s Life : Part 1’, however, serves as a timely reminder of just how good the Boston-born but now LA-based singer-songwriter can sound on her own and with a regular 4-piece band. Kelley first came to prominence in the early 90’s as a guitarist in shoegazing group, the Drop Nineteens. Abandoning them after one album ‘Delaware’ (1992) to become a front woman, she formed first of all grunge act Hot Rod, with whom she recorded a single album ‘Speed ! Danger ! Death’ (1993), and then Boy Wonder, with whom she recorded both another album ‘Wonder-Wear’ (1997) and also a five-song EP ‘Break the Spell etc (1999)’. While Boy Wonder started out as an indie guitar pop outfit , they experimented extensively latterly, and especially on ‘Break the Spell etc’, with both vocal harmonies and dense, wall-of-sound arrangements. When Boy Wonder broke up in 2000 and Kelley turned solo, her long-held fixation with the Beach Boys and the early Bee Gees reached full fruition on her first solo album, 'Nothing/Everything' (2001) the most 60's sounding of all her records. ‘The Trouble With Success’ (2003), her second solo album, however, found her moving on again, and, a big band record, owed as much a debt to Frank Sinatra, Julie London and Alma Cogan, as it did to Brian Wilson and the Gibb Brothers. ‘Some Sucker’s Life : Part 1’ compiles together demos and lost recordings from as far back as 1992, directly after Kelley had left the Drop Nineteens to form Hot Rod, to as recently as 2005, shortly after she left Boston to move to Southern California. A much slowed-down, more dreamy 1995 version of the harmony-soaked ‘Girl of the Day’ a song which finally made the ‘Nothing/Everything’ album, and which traces Kelley’s own development as a musician, is a particular highlight. ‘Some Sucker’s Life’, however, has several other surprises too. ‘Talk Away’ is a softly breezing country-tinged rocker, written by Kelley when she was at a college and even before she joined the Drop Nineteens. Only finally recorded to her satisfaction in 2004, it finds her backed by instrumental lounge/country act the Weisstronauts, whom, as well as featuring both Kelley’s regular Boston producer Pete Weiss on acoustic and electric guitar and mouth harp, also had at that time in their line-up Kelley’s husband, ex-Boy Wonder guitarist Aaron Tap again on acoustic guitar and also banjo. ‘Burnin’ for You’ is a reworking of an old Blue Oyster number. While the original was a sleazy hard rock song told from the perspective of a stalker, Kelley has stripped it down to feature just herself on vocal and guitar and Lily Aycud on aching trumpet, and in contrast has transformed it into a whispered acoustic torch ballad. ‘Your Big World’ was recorded in 1995 with an early line-up of Boy Wonder and is a raucous Joan Jett-style rock ‘n’ roll number. ‘B.S. I Love You’ is similarly rumbustious , and recorded in 1999 with the final incarnation of Boy Wonder just before they split, runs to only a minute and a half and is a harmony-strewn and breathless punk pop track. There is also a hint of what may be yet to come with ‘Goodbye September’, a powerful new demo recorded in California last year. A surging Goffin and King-type brooding big pop ballad, it involves programmed strings and finds Kelley, who is accompanied by Aycud on lilting trumpet and Tap on backing vocals, switching from her regular instrument of guitar to piano. As she says a passionate goodbye to the autumn months she looks back on a love affair concurrently starting to wilt and then decaying as winter sets in. For those who are already Paula Kelley fans ‘Some Sucker’s Life : Part 1’ is essential listening, revealing several previously little-heard and unknown classics. For those who haven’t heard her music before, it provides, with most of the Hot Rod and Boy Wonder catalogue now long deleted, even despite its status as a demos collection, a perfect overview of her career to date. Incorporating together ballads, acoustic tracks, pop songs, rock and country numbers and big band tunes, it shows exactly how versatile Paula Kelley is as both a musician and singer-songwriter.

Track Listing:-
1 High Boots
2 Born To Be A Star
3 Burnin' For You
4 Talk Away
5 B.S. I Love You
6 Firewalker
7 Your Big World
8 Over Your Head
9 Goodbye September
10 Life Isn't Fair
11 The Big Deal
12 Girl Of The Day
13 Soaking
14 Damaged
15 You're Up
16 Untitled

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Interview (2002)
Paula Kelley - Interview
Former Drop Nineteens guitarist and Boy Wonder frontman, Paula Kelley is back with her debut solo album, 'Nothing/Everything'. She chats to John Clarkson about, how despite its Brian Wilson and Burt Bacharach influences, she has kept it contemporary
Interview Part 1 (2002)


The Trouble With Success (2004)
Impressive new album from the ever dependable Boston singer-songwriter Paula Kelley, which this time finds her experimenting with a big band sound
Nothing Everything (2002)
A Bit of Everything (2001)

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