New Sounds of Australia are the real thing

Peter Allen at the Sydney Entertainment Centre, 1983Russell Morris’ Molly Meldrum-produced single The Real Thing, Peter Allen’s iconic I Still Call Australia Home and Archie Roach’s powerful song about the stolen generations, Took the Children Away, are among the ten recordings added to the Sounds of Australia this year.

Established by the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA) in 2007, the Sounds of Australia (formerly known as the National Registry of Recorded Sound) is the ultimate selection of sound recordings with cultural, historical and aesthetic significance and relevance, which inform or reflect life in Australia.

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.

Sounds of Australia brings to life the songs, sounds and stories in our heritage collections, and reminds us of the important and enjoyable moments in our past,” said sound curator Matthew Davies.

This year’s entries include a 1913 song by war time idol Florrie Forde, the collection of Roy and HG’s Triple J show This Sporting Life (1986-2008), surf classic Bombora by The Atlantics, and a recording of a lyrebird mimicking the sounds of a videogame.

The 2013 Sounds of Australia – in chronological order – are:

1. Hold Your Hand Out Naughty Boy, Florrie Forde (1913) – popular music
2. Yes, What?, 5AD, Rex Dawe and cast (1936-40) – radio comedy series
3. Bombora, The Atlantics (1963) – popular music
4. The Land Where the Crow Flies Backwards, Dougie Young (1964) – country, Indigenous
5. The Real Thing, Russell Morris (1969) – popular music
6. I Still Call Australia Home, Peter Allen (1980) – popular music
7. Improvisation in Acoustic Chambers, Dr Ros Bandt (1981) – experimental music
8. This Sporting Life, Roy and HG (1986-2008) – radio broadcast
9. Recording of a Superb Lyrebird at Healesville, Vic, Greg Wignell (1987) – environmental recording
10. Took the Children Away, Archie Roach (1990) – popular music, Indigenous

Each year, the Australian public nominates new sounds to be added with final selections determined by a panel of industry experts. In 2013 the amount of nominations from the public tripled, making the shortlisting process more challenging for the panel than in previous years.

“This year we have seen more public interest in Sounds of Australia than ever before,” explained Mr Davies.

“The final list of ten includes some of the most popular nominations from the public. We also had a number of excellent nominations that have not made it onto this year’s list, but with only ten new sounds added each year to represent over 100 years of history, we have had to make some hard choices.”

Previous entries range from the earliest Australian sound recording (1897’s The Hen Convention, by Thomas Rome) and John Collinson’s 1927 version of Waltzing Matilda, to popular acts such as AC/DC, Kylie Minogue, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.

Sounds of Australia also has a strong Indigenous component, from Fanny Cochrane Smith’s Tasmanian Aboriginal Songs to Yothu Yindi or a collection of ethnographic recordings of extinct and endangered languages.

 For more information on Sounds of Australia, visit the NFSA website.

Image: Peter Allen at the Sydney Entertainment Centre, 1983 – courtesy National Library of Australia