Steve’s Eight CD Box Set – Anthology Volume One: The Sacred Path of The Fried Egg Maylands To The Gates of Hell (1962-2001) is a piece of Australian music history. The first time in Australian music history that an independent solo artist has released a box set.
Volume One: Do Not Fear The Rain
Volume Two: Off The Wall
Volume Three: It’s So Hard To Dance
Volume Four: For You
Volume Five: Fascination Took The Blame
Volume Six: Alexander Monkey
Volume Seven: New York City Blues
Volume Eight: Healing By The First Intention
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The West Australian – TODAY – Ray Purvis
The West Australian - TODAY - Ray Purvis - August 23, 2001
“Babyboomers hooked on ABC TV’s Long Way To The Top could be excused for thinking that WA played no part in the evolution of Aussie rock. But as Perth’s very own “Blues Shaman”, Steve Tallis – who for the last 35 years has been in the front line of the homegrown industry – proves with this sprawling set, the Perth music scene of the 60s, 70s and 80s was as influential and vibrant as downtown Sydney and Melbourne.
Obsessively detailed and brilliantly pieced together form an archive of studio sessions, mixing desk tapes and seven inch vinyl, the eight CD Box traces Tallis’ contribution with such influential bands as The Jellyroll Bakers, King Biscuit Company, Buckshot, Opposition, Apache Dropouts and Zombi Party. The set says as much about his personal development as a musician as it does about the local scene. Coming from a blues background, Tallis graduated to improvisation (with the late 70s Zappa-esque Fried Egg) and experimentation (the WA Chainsaw Orchestra) through to a hybrid of blues, jazz and voodoo with The Zombi Party. The supporting cast comprises a who’s who of Perth musicians.
The last CD of the set features his recent work with Suicide Ghosts (Gary Ridge – percussion, Dave Clarke- violin and harmonica) and a recent kitchen recording of field hollers and songs celebrating Bob Dylan’s 60th birthday. This is a mission of love that has consumed Tallis for the last 10 years and deserves to be heard by everyone.”
THE AGE NEWSPAPER (Melbourne) – PATRICK DONOVAN
THE AGE NEWSPAPER (Melbourne) - Patrick Donovan - September 6, 2002
Raised on a diet of Leadbelly, Dr John, Bob Dylan and voodoo religion, and with a scowl hardened by an unforgiving world, Perth troubadour Steve Tallis performed one of the most riveting, compelling live shows this reviewer has experienced. Just one man singing about sacred ghosts, scarecrows, injustices and the undead while aggressively strumming an acoustic guitar brought on a fever and left me in a trancelike state. But it wasn’t always like that. Before Tallis’s interest in voodoo came to the fore, he was Perth’s premier Bluesman, supporting everyone from Dylan to BB King. This exhaustive and fascinating 8CD Box Set traces his progression from ’60s R’n’B interpreter through early’70s psychedelia to today’s cryptic melting pot of primal, swampy blues. By the end he comes across as more than merely a scarecrow, and stands as one of Australia’s most eccentric and powerful singer songwriters.
RHYTHMS MAGAZINE – February 2002 – Issue 115 – Mark Doherty
RHYTHMS MAGAZINE – Issue 115 - Mark Doherty - February 1, 2002
(NB: This is part of a three-page feature including an interview.)
“Outside of Perth, singer/songwriter Steve Tallis is probably best known for his trio of critically acclaimed CDs, starting with 1993’s full band Zombi Party, featuring Jamie Oehlers on sax, then 1997’s Monkey Skulls and Thunderstones and 1999’s Zozo, both acoustic ventures with multi-instrumentalist Dave Clarke and percussionist Gary Ridge. These collections of songs, chants, hollers and assorted voodoo weirdness find Tallis at a high point in his long and varied career. The box set contains no tracks from these three CDs, but instead gives an insight into how his artistic vision has emerged and matured. The early dabblings in 60’s pop/R&B and Chicago Blues are of interest historically but don’t really engage this listener, however somewhere around CD #4 things really get interesting. This is where Steve’s concept of “no rehearsals, no preconceptions, no restrictions, just play” starts to gel. Once he surrounds himself with musicians who are up to the task, the sparks begin to fly and the extended improvisations on blues-based songs developed by Steve, and driven by his vocals and rhythm guitar really become satisfying. The personnel constantly shifts, with some of WA’s best musos occupying drums, bass, lead guitar, horns and keyboard positions.
The mid-seventies up to the present has been a creative period for Tallis as he veers between large scale R&B bands, small group improvisation outfits, and more recently solo/small combos acoustic work. It’s all documented here, with a basic but informative 52-page booklet which gives discographical details plus commentary, by not only Steve himself but many of the participants as well. It’s a fascinating journey, and one that will occupy many hours of listening, but not nearly as many as the almost 40 years of playing and singing that it represents.
An epic journey following one man’s quest for musical fulfilment. In its own way, it parallels recent attempts to chart the history of Australian rock music.”
NOVA MAGAZINE / PERTH BLUES CLUB – BLUES TIMES – Phil Barnett
NOVA MAGAZINE / PERTH BLUES CLUB – BLUES TIMES - Phil Bennett - August 18, 2022
For anyone who takes pride or even just has a passing interest in the history of the Perth music scene, this box set of eight cds and 50-page booklet is an absolute Aladdin’s Cave of treasures. By any criteria, this is a major work, an eye and ear opening delve back over a career that is in its 30th year, and the riches of this set are informed by a man whose personal history is intertwined with that of our city’s.
The sounds within are those of a man finding his groove and settling in for the long haul. True to Tallis’ fiercely independent and ‘take me as I am’ nature, the music is presented warts and all, with recordings collated from sources as disparate as reel to reels in the garage of 177, Railway Parade, Maylands (Co-operation – The Broken Things 1965) and the Kalamunda Town Hall (Rising Sun/Louisiana Blues – Juke 1970) to the pristine confines of Planet Studios in 1990. Like an aural storybook, the tale of Tallis and his relationship with the local blues and original music scene unfolds disc after disc, page after page. And along the way, the listener is introduced to a myriad of colourful characters and reminders of how things used to be. A sonic slideshow, if you will, as venues and bands flash across the speakers – the Sandgroper, the Stoned Crow and the Broadway Tavern, as The Apache Dropouts, Fried Egg and The Zombi Party tread the boards before crowds that would range from a few friends to ones where the joint was packed and jumping. A Tallis trademark is his willingness to encourage the self-expression of his fellow musicians, which, invariably, leads to moments of self-indulgence where you probably had to have been there to appreciate and enjoy it (The Jellyroll Bakers’ 20 minute version of Catfish Blues is a sheer endurance test), but what it does do is capture a host of local musicians in an open environment where they are free to follow the whims of the moment. And what a roll call of local talent it is – John Meyer, the Zar brothers, Greg Schultz, Ric Whittle, Gary Ridge, Al Kash, Bob Patient, Gandharva, Wayne Emery, Beast, Phil Kakulas, Sean Diggins, Jamie Oehlers, Konrad Park, Dave Clarke to name but two handfuls. These are players, most of them still plying their trade today, who formed the backbone of Perth’s blues, jazz and R&B scenes throughout the 70s and 80s and their presence serves as a tip of the hat to their contribution to our history.
Peter Fussell (guitarist, The Broken Things) sums the package up neatly with his closing statement: “I think it is a testament to your courage that you have endured and through your work have shown the world what a ‘little guy’ can do with huge imagination.”
A mind boggling epic, Anthology Volume One speaks volumes, both in its musical content and the pages of revealing anecdotes contained in its accompanying booklet, and deserves to be displayed in museums across Australia as a document of West Australian music culture.
A stellar effort that should keep the listener’s sonic appetite well and truly satiated.
MAGNET MAGAZINE (USA) – Issue # 59 (June 2003) – Fred Mills
MAGNET MAGAZINE (USA) - Issue # 59 - Fred Mills - June 1, 2003
“Australian Griot – Blues Shaman Steve Tallis delivers an eight – CD Boxed set, Anthology Volume One: The Sacred Path of The Fried Egg – Maylands to The Gates of Hell – 1962-2001 (Zombi). It’s as sprawling – and fascinating – as its title, ranging from ’60’s and early ’70’s musical stirrings (including garage -punks Broken Things and psychedelic – blues combo Lucy Crown) and a ’79 jazz -tinged pub-rock incarnation as The Opposition to a guitar / percussion session recorded in Paris in ’98 with Toups Bebey (son of late poet / musician Francis Bebey) and a Tom Waits-goes-world- beat live set from his end-of-millennium combo The Suicide Ghosts. No fewer than three other Tallis CDs have subsequently surfaced; Zozo, originally recorded in ’99, is a key listen. One minute he’s ranting and chanting like a born-again Captain Beefheart, the next he sounds like a latter day Dr John, raising the dead with his voodoo rattle. Next he’s a free-falling cross between Bob Dylan and Tim Buckley. This prolific troubadour has performed with the greats – among them Dylan, Eric Clapton, Tom Petty, Van Morrison, John Mayall, Ben Harper and Ani DiFranco – and for Australian-music buffs, he’s the embodiment of the restless, independent artist”
Ian McFarlane (Editor – Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop / Rock Historian)
Ian McFarlane - August 18, 2022
“Well, where to begin – the box set is certainly an awesome achievement. There’s so much to take in, I’ve been playing thru bits and pieces. I guess it’s hard to get past some of the lo-fi quality of a lot of the earlier stuff, but I reckon the Jelly Roll Bakers, Lucy Crown etc are amazing historically, and pretty damn fine blues to boot. I think I prefer some of your later 90s recordings, Zombi Party and especially Monkey Skulls & Thunderstones is fascinating. I really dig that whole ‘Hoodoo Man / Voodoo Blues / Blues Shaman / Acid Blues’ vibe.
I think you’ve provided Australian blues with a great legacy in putting the
box set together and its significance will stand forever, well done.”
(Editor – Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop / Rock Historian)
Groove Magazine (Qld) – Helen Farley
GROOVE MAGAZINE (QLD) - HELEN FARLEY - August 18, 2022
Talk about an epic journey – this anthology goes up hill and down dale, through the depths of despair and orgiastic ecstasy, through blues and rock and some weird spot in your unconscious, through the rebellion of the ‘60s, the flares of the ‘70s and well, I’m sure the ‘80s really must have had something going for them too.
Long Way to the Top has made us very aware of Australian music history as it happened on the East Coast from the ‘50s on, but it’s too easy to forget, that way across the other side of the country, the music was happening too. Anthology Volume One makes us cognizant of that fact, though admittedly, by focusing on one artist, it’s a pretty skewed view but a view nonetheless. The accompanying booklet is loaded with anecdotes and photos, helping you to immerse yourself in the relevant time period and geography.
The Anthology itself consists of eight discs, and I’m more than impressed with the diligence Steve displays in amassing such an eclectic aural document. For the most part, I hadn’t heard of the outfits thus catalogued, but I was intrigued to hear how one evolved into another. The joy is in the journey, especially with such traveling companions as the Apache Dropouts, the Steve Tallis Washboard Unit and the WA Chainsaw Orchestra.
Because the anthology covers such a long period, I’m unsure as to how to describe what lies within. Can I say it starts with urgent, adolescent blues and R&B and ends well … the blues is still there, but now it’s taken flight, cruising the lofty heights and taking on a spiritual dimension and beginning a lofty dialogue with all sorts of interesting demons, emotions, ideals and sounds.
I’m not sure who this anthology would appeal to. We in the Eastern states are largely deprived of Steve’s immediate musical influence, but anyone with a spirit for adventure or history would find a lot to tantalize them here. It’s a big ask to expect someone to listen to the collection for eight hours from end to end, but to dip in here and there is a delight. For more information, look up www.stevetallis.com.
Drum Media – Andrew Williams
Drum Media - Andrew Williams - May 27, 2003
When one thinks or hears about a new anthology it usually means a collection of work from someone famous worldwide. Those that come to mind are Anthologies of sorts from such acts as the Beatles, Jeff Beck, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Hendrix, Kiss or Pink Floyd to name a few. Groups or artists that have continued to release their musical contribution to the world over decades, even in death.
But what if someone not that famous chooses to release his or her own Anthology? When you look at that question and have a think about it, any artist who is lucky enough to have material of their work over their career, be it 10 or 40 years, sure has the right to compile their own Anthology. Sure it may not sell the masses as the Beatles etc, but an Anthology is all about showing the career, or history of the artist. Whether one person buys it or one million do, this is a very fortunate thing to be able to do.
I was going through some tapes the a while ago, when I came across a tape that I hadn’t heard in years and didn’t think I still had. It dates back to 1988 and features a four-song recording of original songs that myself and three other guys did. When I put the tape on I was immediately taken back to the two days when we recorded it. Memories, in such great detail, came back and thinking about it I can only imagine the thoughts, memories and emotions that Western Australian musician Steve Tallis had go through his when he decided to compile, and now release, his 39-year career Anthology The Sacred Path of the Fried Egg – 1962 – 2001.
Tallis is not the Beatles, nor Jeff Beck. But mega-fame aside, he is a multi-talented Australian musician who has continuously toured, recorded and explored various blues / roots styles for now some 41 years. The box set is more than a credit to Tallis. From rough demos, live recordings to polished studio work; the box set is the history of Tallis and his musical passion.
From his beginnings as a member of the Broken Things, barely a teenager, to his last offering in the boxed set as Steve Tallis & The Suicide Ghosts, Tallis’ Anthology is constructed over a whopping 8 cds.
To go through and give my opinion of what I think are the best parts of the Anthology would be pointless. The point of it all is that here we have an Australian artist who has accomplished so much in his life and his musical career and is fortunate enough to not only be able to put together such a detailed account of his career, but to also have the balls to do it in the first place. It also spans the different generations of music and how Tallis stayed true to his roots throughout. The Anthology also comes with 52 page booklet (including the cover), which shows photos of Tallis and the masses of musos he has worked with, information about each stage of the Anthology, including lists of musicians in each, plus loads of memories from Tallis and various people in his life. If you are a blues / roots enthusiast who would like a true, no holds barred, piece of Australian music history then I urge you to obtain a copy of The Sacred Path…
Sure it may not sell in the masses that other well-known Anthology sets do, it may not be in the Top 40, but one thing is for sure; this is a piece of work that Tallis can hold his head up high above the clouds with. A brilliant effort from a brilliant artist’s career.
COLLECTORMANIA / HOWLSPACE.COM – Chris Spencer
COLLECTORMANIA / HOWLSPACE.COM - CHRIS SPENCER - August 18, 2022
Eight CD Box Set – 114 tracks – 9 hours 36 minutes 18 seconds
Zombi Music –ZOMBICD4 – Released 19/8/2001
This month I’m going to focus on one of the most ambitious CD Box Sets ever undertaken by an Australian musician, Steve Tallis. Initially I would have got a chuckle out of Tallis’ humour in describing it as Volume One, but after checking out the goods, I sincerely believe he will produce a second box set before the end of his lifetime! Box Sets in Australia are a rare item. Few bands have had the longevity or extent of work to be afforded a box set of re-issues, either for the collector market or for the consumate fan who must collect everything a band issues. So, for company, Tallis has AC/DC, Skyhooks, The Angels, INXS, Split Enz, Johnny O’Keefe and The Birthday Party – all household names. Tallis is not in the same league as those bands but given the preparation, thought and dedication that Tallis has put into this project – without the aid of supportive record company – he deserves to be!
I’ve been familiar with Tallis’ work over a couple of decades, so, to me the main interest is in the first two cds of early recordings, which include tapes of live gigs – Steve taped almost every gig – which have not been released for general release or issued in such small numbers they never were sighted on the east coast. Thus these early recordings are immanently collectable. I terms of music, Tallis’ music has been drenched in blues and blues-rock related genres. His early bands were traditional blues bands but as he grew older, Steve has incorporated blues into his own recordings and compositions to such an extent his music, while still having a blues base, has extended into different directions, without losing sight of his early influences. Today his music is less easily describable, with Tallis using unusual rhthms and instruments to become more well known among world music enthusiasts, rather than just blues’ fans.
The 8 CD set is housed in two double jewel cases holding 4 cds each, encased in a heavy cardboard box. Accompanying the set are extensive notes in a 48-page booklet which includes colour photographs. The liner notes were compiled by Steve and many musicians were asked to make a few comments about working and playing with Tallis in many of the bands he has formed since 1962. These provide a fascinating insight in the world of Steve Tallis and give the reader a wonderful sense of the project. With my interest in family history, it’s inspiring to see such a detailed account documented for future research – there’s photos of various incarnations of Tallis’ bands during the past four decades. Thus for the collector this project is an obvious item to be collected, given the nature of the product and the unusualness of the presentation. Be quick for there are only 100 manufactured!
CHRIS SPENCER (Editor – WHO’S WHO OF AUSTRALIAN ROCK – AND BLUES)
BUCKETFULL OF BRAINS – London (UK) – Issue #65 – Mike Oldfield
BUCKETFULL OF BRAINS – London (UK) – Issue #65 - MIKE OLDFIELD - August 18, 2022
The 8-CD box retrospective is usually reserved for the most self-indulgent of rock stars: in the case of Steve Tallis, however, it’s more a history than a vanity project.
That Tallis is not a household name is undoubtedly because he’s spent most of his career based in Perth, Western Australia. Yet over the past 40-odd years the singer/guitarist has led and recorded with enough exotically-named bands to merit a Volume One tag to his anthology. Gulp. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is the musical equivalent of the discovery of a lost Stone Age tribe: rock’s tidal waves reached Perth as surely as they reached Croydon…possibly a week or two later. Tallis’ relative isolation, though, has enabled him to develop his music in a highly original style without being sidetracked by the whims and fancies of transient fashion. It’s hard to think of another musician who, starting from the usual mid-1960s template of R&B covers, has ended up with such a fascinating mixture of blues, rock and jazz. Robert Fripp probably comes closest, although the comparison is barely audible to the naked ear. Anthology charts the journey, through flirtations with jazz-rock, free jazz and country blues, among many other influences.
To be honest, the first two CDs, which cover the period up to 1974, could have used some editing. While electric blues and prog-rock seem to have reached Perth fairly promptly, the latest advances in recording technology seem to have taken the longer sea route.
The 1970s progress in a more jazzy, laidback vein. Fried Egg is the key band in this period, stretching out instrumentally on a series of live recordings, “So Hard A Time” being a particularly fine example. After a three-year hiatus, Tallis reappears in Albany, New York, in 1982 deep in the blues again. Back in Australia the following year, however, he’s found flirting with the outer limits of weird, which reaches some kind of peak with the Western Australia Chainsaw Orchestra. Yes, they do play chainsaws. Apart from the vocalist, who doubles on electric kitchen knife. The experience clearly had a positive effect because the late 1980s are a fertile period for Tallis. “A Woman Is A Secret”, “Alexander Monkey” and the fabulous “Dancing On The Jonquils” are among the highlights: strong songs expanded into inspirational jams. As the old century gives way to the new, there’s more of the same to come, interspersed with plenty of more challenging experimental music, none more so than that made by Zombi Party, which has echoes of Bill Laswell’s various partnerships with Peter Brotzmann.
The serpentine twists and turns of Tallis’ musical career are handsomely chronicled on the accompanying booklet. More of his music can be found on Zombi Party (Zombi CD1); Monkey Skulls & Thunderstones (Zombi CD2) and Zozo (Zombi CD3). Those merely intrigued will doubtless find that a visit to www.stevetallis.com pays dividends.
Glitterhouse Records – Ingolf Boysen
GLITTERHOUSE RECORDS - INGOLF BOYSEN - August 18, 2022
Anthology Volume One
Das Steve Tallis durchaus ein bisschen exzentrisch ist, wird er selbst gern zugeben, für einen Musiker ist das sowieso eine läßliche Sünde. Einen 8-CD Box-Set können wir von so manchem verdienten klassischen Rock-Act nicht bieten, und da kommt ein westaustralischer Blues-Mann daher und dokumentiert seine ganze musikalische Geschichte (bis 2001) in dieser Ballung und nennt es auch nur Teil 1. Dazu der Untertitel „The Sacred Path Of The Fried Egg Maylands To The Gates Of Hell – 1962-2001.
Wie manisch muß man sein, um schon als zarter Knabe von 11 Jahren, nicht nur mit der ersten Band in der heimischen Garage zu spielen, sondern auch Live aufzutreten und vor allem, die Tapes und und Master so zu bewahren, daß sie später, 40 Jahre später in dieser Anthologie landen.
Natürlich sind die frühen Aufnahmen zum Beispiel auf CD 1 mit den anfängen 1965 kein audiophiler Hochgenuß, aber so schlimm wie man fürchten könnte ist es dann auch wieder nicht. Die erste Band – The Broken Things – 5 frühe Teenager, demonstrieren schon eine sehr reife Auffassung von Rock und Blues. Tallis, ob Solo oder in diversen Bands, spielt den Blues dann auch bis Heute, während er dabei in abseitigere und grenzwertigere Schattierungen vordringt. Voodoos, Zombies, Naturglauben und afrikanische Wurzeln fließen in sein Hexenwerk ein.
Aus dem umfangreichen Booklet geht hervor, daß er im laufe der Karriere neben quasi allen Aussie-Stars, sowie bei Van Morrison, Eric Clapton und Bob Dylan als Vorprogramm auf dem Billboard stand. 114 Tracks, 9 Stunden, 36 Minuten und 18 Sekunden währt dieses Mammutwerk. Dazu ein üppiges Booklet in einer schlichten Longbox aus rotem Leinen.
Wer auch über den Erwerb der anderen angebotenen Tallis Alben nachdenkt, kann das Tun, denn es gibt keine Überschneidungen.
“POP DOWN UNDER” STEVE TALLIS: Redux
AMPLIFIER MAGAZINE (USA) – Issue 31 - David Hughes – Owen - August 18, 2022
Steve Tallis: Anthology Volume One is one of the more interesting box sets to come out in a while. I reckon I’d need two issues of Amplifier to explain in detail Steve’s musical escapades. At a pinch, his work covers blues, roots, improvisations, chants, hollerings and weird voodoo sounds – making Anthology Volume One one of the most ambitious packages ever to come out of this country. Steve’s work in the 60’s focused on roots rock, but he’s best known for his forays into unknown territory, which blend a raw mixture of blues and tribal fusion done with his bands The Apache Dropouts and Zombi Party. Anyone who has been in music for forty years and still produces something as challenging as Steve’s work deserves more than just a pat on the back. And to boot, this eight-disc set is only the half of it, with work already being started on Volume Two.