Four iconic bands added to NFSA’s Sounds of Australia

Divinyls, c.1988The songs of four iconic Australian bands that helped define the 1980s have been added to the National Film and Sound Archive’s Sounds of Australia registry of historically, culturally and aesthetically significant sound recordings.

The songs selected this year for inclusion in Sounds of Australia are Cold Chisel’s Khe Sanh (1978), Divinyls’ Boys in Town (1981), ICEHOUSE’s Great Southern Land (1982) and The Go-Betweens’ Cattle and Cane (1983).

Cold Chisel’s Don Walker said of the announcement, “The choice of Khe Sanh by the NFSA for their Sounds of Australia registry is a great honour. Who would have thought such a thing was possible?”

For the Divinyls’ Mark McEntee, the inclusion of Boys in Town is a welcome surprise, “Who knew, the very first time Chrissie Amphlett and I met, that we would sit down and pen this song together? It was the first result of a magical connection between us, as songwriting partners, which would take us to heights we never would have expected.”

ICEHOUSE’s creative force, Iva Davies, said “I feel greatly honoured. At the time I wrote Great Southern Land, I was attempting to capture within it something of the sense of place, and perhaps something of the soul of Australia.”

“I had absolutely no idea at the time that people would react to it in the way that they did, and certainly not that they would still be reacting to it more than 30 years into the future. The song, and the way it has been received, still remains a mystery to me today, as it did then.”

The Go-Betweens Robert Forster added, “The addition of Cattle and Cane to Sounds of Australia is a highlight of The Go-Betweens’ career, and a further testament to the vision of the man that wrote it – the late Grant McLennan.”

In addition to these four popular songs, the new Sounds of Australia entries for 2014 include the earliest known Australian singer to make a commercial recording (Syria Lamonte, 1898), a concert recorded in a cave at Tobruk (1941), the sounds of a lone dingo howling in the wild (1990) and the collection of the ground-breaking Indigenous radio program Deadly Sounds (1993-2014).

There are currently 94 recordings in the Sounds of Australia registry, from the earliest Australian sound recording (1897’s The Hen Convention) to international stars such as AC/DC, Kylie Minogue, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. The selection also includes key moments in Australian history, and Indigenous culture.

Established by the NFSA in 2007 Sounds of Australia is the ultimate selection of sounds which inform or reflect life in our nation. They can be popular songs, advertising jingles, famous speeches, radio broadcasts, or any other sound recordings – as long as they’re Australian and more than 10 years old.

Each year the Australian public nominates new sounds to be added, with final selections determined by a panel of industry experts. The complete list is available online. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Divinyls (c.1988) – courtesy of the artist.