Leaps and Bounds (C Langman/P Kelly) – Paul Kelly and the Coloured Girls 1987
In 1977 Kelly had relocated to a shared house at 1109 Hoddle St, East Melbourne, he was pretty much broke but absorbing musical influences from a lively local club scene and the extensive record collection of one of his housemates.
He played the Carlton pub rock, campus, and inner-city venues as initially The High-Rise Bombers and then the Dots, they were generally described as New Wave, he met and married his first wife Hilary and their son Declan arrived in 1980. Below L-R – The Dots, Declan Kelly, Gossip album cover
Kelly was living with his wife and family in a flat in Punt Rd. Richmond, he was hitless, without a band and paralysed by writer’s block, he went see a group called the Cuban Heels at a pub in Richmond, the band’s front-man, Steve Connolly, seemed to Kelly like a cross between Hubert Sumlin, Steve Cropper and James Burton, all legendary guitarists. Connolly would ultimately join Kelly a year later in Sydney as lead guitarist with the Coloured Girls, and his musical influence within the group would prove to be pivotal to their future success.The Coloured Girls would ultimately stabilise around a band that would prove to be Kelly’s most enduring and talented line up – left to right below Michael Barclay (drums), Peter Bull (keyboards), Paul Kelly (guitar, vocals), Jon Scofield (bass) and Steve Connolly (lead guitar).
Leaps and Bounds was a double A-side release with the Dylanesque Bradmanon the flipside when taken off the Gossip album. It is uniquely Melbourne-oriented with specific references to the MCG, the Nylex digital clock above the Punt Rd silos, burning autumn leaves, Aussie rules football, and the city’s quirky weather. It was co-composed by Kelly and Chris Langman, when they shared a house in Hoddle St. East Melbourne, the song took several years to complete, with Steve Connolly writing the ultimate riff, and Jon Schofield delivering a memorable rumbling bass line. A punk version of the original had been recorded with Sports frontman Stephen Cummings producing, but basically it existed for years anonymously on a cassette in Kelly’s possession., until re-birthed in the mid-eighties. It is a poignant and timeless composition, all heartache and yearning, lust for life and feelings of ephemeral bliss. The first chorus consists of just two words: “I remember.” The second includes the tail “I go in leaps and bounds.” It is much-loved by Melburnians,Kelly has performed it at the AFL Grand Final in front of 100,000 fans, and the promo video was filmed atop the Punt Rd. silos, adjacent to the Nylex Plastics clock.
When Meatloaf delivered a less than memorable halftime performance at the AFL Grand Final in 2011, fans demanded that local artists be engaged the very next year, of course Paul Kelly was the star turn, and he sang Leaps and Bounds to the great joy of the 100,000 people in attendance. The only mondegreen that has been consistently attributed to a Kelly song is this one, when Greg Arnold, singer with Things of Stone and Wood, recalled that one of his mates thought the song was about a guy who has been refused entry to the MCG and he‘s yelling, “But I ‘m a member, I’m a member!”
Undoubtedly the Gossip album provided the critical breakthrough for Kelly, it was an album full of emotions, down-hearted songs (Look So Fine, Feel So Low, Somebody’s Forgetting Somebody), empathy for our First Nations people ( Maralinga), and admissions of failure and personal short comjngs (Stories of Me), but it was also the clearest affirmation of the emergence of one of this country’s finest songwriters.