From their first release, Pioneers, Wallis and Matilda have produced warm and appreciative comments and reviews, from critics and public alike. Here, we share a few with you, including a treasured letter from the grand-daughters of the Banjo himself...
Dear John Wallis,
"We greatly enjoy your musical interpretations of our Grandfather's works. We wish you every success with 'A Singer of the Bush' and have no doubt that it will give all Australians as much pleasure as your previous 'Tributes to A.B. Paterson'." Sincerely,
Rosamund Campbell and Philippa Harvie
Man, ain't that "Man from Snowy River" a great track?
Would that I could have ridden out that day with the Old Man, Clancy
and The Man From Snowy River. "
"The album Pioneers is really top grade stuff. John Wallis
has really got what it takes..."
"These old songs and bush ballads must bring almost a tear
of nostalgia to the eyes of us oldies who still love to retain such
"For some time I have been a fan of Wallis and Matilda.."
"If Banjo Paterson was here today he would be pleased with
your work. You should be very pleased with yourself.."
"Thank you for hours of good Australian music.."
"We've already worn the album out and we only picked it up
"Thank you for the hours of delight your music has given my
"We have found your production to be an essential part of
any record collection, not only for its entertainment, but for its educational
qualities as well..."
"I bought Clancy the first time I heard it on the radio..."
"Each rendition provokes a particular atmosphere, be it excitement,
nostalgia, melancholy or humour. Such a neatiful and worthwhile productions.."
THE GREAT WALLIS AND MATILDA COLLECTION (Volumes 1,2, & 3)
These three CDs have been produced to be a musical tribute to the great A.B.(Banjo) Paterson. John Wallis himself (being the writer, arranger, and producer of the music) has been the driving force behind the success of these CDs. Paterson's poetry writing technique must have been a huge challenge for John Wallis to come up with such a variety of musical styles to make his efforts a) appeal to the listening public, and also b) to have some chance of commercial success.
These three CDs are unique and are justly copyrighted. The reason Pioneers went "platinum" is because of the masterpieces Clancy of the Overflow and The Man from Ironbark. The mix of writing, performing, and production came together right on queue for these two songs in particular. It would be surprising if anyone reading this review had not heard of at least one of these productions on the radio at some time in the last thirty years. Yes, that's right! This band and these CDs have been around a long time!
On each CD there is a song that goes for longer than 15 minutes. It could be suggested that these efforts were possibly done as a challenge, or simply for posterity! They are certainly not "commercial"! Most of the tracks have John Wallis' vocal way out front in the production, but it is where his vocal is strongly supported by the group vocal (and / or other instrumental arrangements) that the uniqueness of the songs, without doubt, have their greatest appeal. It is my thought that this may not have been recognised earlier. The harmony structures and general musicianship are all very sound, and the band Matilda are to be congratulated for contributing so professionally to all the productions.
These three CDs are a musical tribute to the great A.B. (Banjo) Paterson. They are part of a thirty year effort by Snowy Mountains band Wallis and Matilda to set the complete works of this iconic Australian poet. John Wallis himself (being the writer, arranger, and producer), has been the driving force behind the success of these CDs. This collection is more varied than I would have anticipated, encompassing a variety of styles. All with John Wallis's very pleasant voice in the front of the mix and backed by a lovely mix of instrumentation and solid harmony vocals.
Wallis presents Paterson in all of his moods from bush ballads and sentimental stories to character sketches and populist doggerel.
Wallis is a grand interpreter and story teller and manages to hold interest even in tracks over fifteen minutes long.
The collection is obviously aimed at commercial interests, being beautifully produced and using contemporary instruments and appealing to the "Aussie" sensibility (such as Qantas ads including lovely children's choirs) and our need for fairly naked jingoism.
As a collector, these recordings should be on your shelf, but for me there is a certain lack of authenticity. Perhaps it is simply my own prejudices getting in the way but the songs all feel very shiny and slick, and I can't imagine them being sung around a session or a campfire.
Regardless of my reservations this is a stunning achievement and well worth the listening.
Downloadable from iTunes; www.wallisandmatilda.com.au or contact Access Music.
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