From AC/DC to Indigenous languages, ten new titles added to the National Registry of Recorded Sound

Popular recording artists AC/DC, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and the late Jimmy Little have been immortalised with their inclusion in the National Film and Sound Archive’s National Registry of Recorded Sound.

The Registry is a selection of sound recordings with cultural, historical and aesthetic significance and relevance, which inform or reflect life in Australia.

The 2012 additions were announced today by the Minister for the Arts, The Hon. Simon Crean MP.

This year’s selection covers almost an entire century, from one of Australia’s oldest known commercially released recordings The Black Watch (c1903-1910) by Percy Herford, to a 2001 album by improvised music trio The Necks.

It ranges from popular songs such as AC/DC’s iconic It’s A Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll) and Jimmy Little’s 1963 classic Royal Telephone, to an invaluable collection containing more than 40 endangered or extinct Indigenous languages, recorded by linguist Luise Hercus over the course of 35 years.

Other new additions include Nick Cave and the Bad Seed’s 1988 album Tender Prey; the radio serials created by Grace Gibson Productions between 1947 and 1970; a radio documentary made by ABC journalist Tim Bowden in Da Nang, Vietnam during the war; rare Australian recordings by Hawaiian musicians David and Queenie Kaili; and a 1972 record by Barry Humphries and Dick Bentley, which also contains a B-side song by Edna Everage, True British Spunk.

The Registry was established in 2007. Each year the Australian public nominates new recorded sounds to be added, with final selections determined by a panel of industry experts. The sounds can contain music, spoken word and any other kind of sound, and must be more than ten-years old.

Previous entries to the Registry include the earliest Australian sound recording (1897’s The Hen Convention, by Thomas Rome), Fanny Cochrane Smith’s Tasmanian Aboriginal Songs and John Collinson’s 1927 version of Waltzing Matilda, as well as music by Dames Nellie Melba and Joan Sutherland, Slim Dusty, Skyhooks, The Seekers, Men At Work, Yothu Yindi and Kylie Minogue. The complete list is available on the NFSA website.

The National Registry of Recorded Sound is part of the NFSA’s Sounds of Australia program to promote and celebrate the nation’s sound heritage.

Musician and producer David Bridie is this year’s patron for Sounds of Australia: “The National Registry of Recorded Sound celebrates the diversity of our sound heritage and captures its multitude of voices. These sounds reflect who we are as a people, as a nation. They signify where we’ve come from and perhaps where we’d like to be years from now. We should listen to and learn from them.”

The Sounds of Australia program also includes the NFSA Cochrane Smith Award for Sound Heritage and the Thomas Rome Lecture, both of which took place in Melbourne on August 13. The award was presented to Dr Ros Bandt, and the lecture delivered by Michael Gudinski.

National Registry of Recorded Sound – 2012 Additions

The Black Watch
Percy Herford, Australia Record No 58, c1903-1910
The Australia Record Company operated in Glebe, Sydney, between 1903 and 1910, recording and releasing a number of Australian popular (mostly music hall) performers. It is likely that it was the first company making commercial recordings in Australia. The company had at least two addresses; one in 73 Glebe Rd, Glebe, and another at 81 St Johns Rd, Forest Lodge. It was variously called the Australia Moulded Record Co and the Australia Phono Record Co.
Percy Herford was a well known performer in Australia from the 1890s on. The Black Watch is a black wax cylinder record and the only example from the company in the NFSA collection.
NFSA spokesperson: Collections Development Officer Tamara Osicka

The David & Queenie Kaili recordings in Sydney 1927-1932
David & Queenie Kaili, Parlophone, 1927-1932
These are the formative recordings of Australian Hawaiian music. The Kailis were Hawaiian-born musicians who toured and recorded in Australia in the 1920s and early 30s, making 23 records for Parlophone between 1927 and 1932. David Kaili was one of the first generation of steel guitar players and had been recording since 1914. The music of the duo, sometimes billed as The Hawaiian Entertainers, inspired the first Australian musicians playing Hawaiian music. Their Australian recordings are rare and much of it has never been re-released.
NFSA spokesperson: Sound Archivist Graham McDonald
Title-related spokesperson: Rebecca Coyle, Associate Professor, School of Arts and Social Sciences at Southern Cross University

Grace Gibson Productions’ radio serials 1946-1970
Various artists 1946-1970
In 1934, Texas-born Grace Gibson was brought to Australia by Sydney radio station 2GB’s general manager, AE Bennett, to help sell American radio programs within Australia. Within ten years she had formed Grace Gibson Radio Productions, one of the most successful radio production companies in the world. Gibson’s company specialised in soap operas and serials, ranging from long-running family dramas Dr Paul and Portia Faces Life, to crime serials Night Beat and Dossier on Demetrius. Scripts were often imported from the United States and adapted for Australian audiences, produced using local actors and then syndicated to radio stations across Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Hong Kong and Canada. Many shows were so popular that they were still produced for up to 14 years after the original American scripts ran out, employing local writers to take over. When Gibson sold the business in 1978, Grace Gibson Productions had produced and sold around 40,000 quarter-hour episodes.
NFSA spokesperson: Sound Archivist Graham McDonald or Senior Curator of sound, Broadcast and New Media, Matthew Davies
Title-related spokesperson: Reg James, former MD of Grace Gibson.

Royal Telephone
Jimmy Little, Festival FK453, 1963
While Jimmy Little had been recording since the mid 1950s, it wasn’t until the release of Royal Telephone in 1963 that he became better known outside the country music genre. This was the first recording by an Indigenous Australian to achieve mainstream chart success, reaching no.1 on the Sydney charts and no.10 nationally. The song established him as a star in Australian popular music and his career continued for over 40 years.
Title-related spokesperson: Jimmy Little’s manager, Graham ‘Buzz’ Bidstrup

The Luise Hercus Collection, AIATSIS Audiovisual Archive
Dr. Luise A Hercus (creator) , 1963-1997
Linguist Luise Hercus has spent over 50 years recording and studying Australian Aboriginal languages. She produced over 1,000 hours of unpublished recordings documenting Aboriginal languages from Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland. This invaluable collection includes recordings of more than 40 Aboriginal languages which are endangered or no longer spoken, including Arabana, Birladapa, Diyari, Kuyani, Madhi Madhi, Malyangapa, Ngarigu, Wangkangurru, Wergaia, Wirangu, Yardliyawarra, Yarluyandi and many others. It contains the only known recordings of some of these languages.
Title-related spokesperson: AIATSIS Native Title Research and Access Officer, Grace Koch

Tim Bowden’s 'Patrol from Da Nang’ radio documentary
Tim Bowden, ABC, 1966
There are not many radio field recordings made by on-the-ground reporters in the ABC’s archival collection. Even if there were, this recording would stand out in the crowd. Bowden’s 1966 documentary is part reflection on the Vietnam war and part field recording. Made for the ABC radio program Fact & Opinion, it is comprehensive at 40 minutes. The content ranges from graphic recordings of mortar attacks to US Marine banter as they carry out their patrol and interviews with the soldiers about what they think they are doing there. It is an amazing historical document and a riveting radio documentary.
NFSA spokesperson: Sound Archivist Graham McDonald or Senior Curator of sound, Broadcast and New Media, Matthew Davies
Title-related spokesperson: Journalist Tim Bowden

A Track Winding Back
Barry Humphries & Dick Bentley, Philips 6205 019, 1972
Barry Humphries’ recording career has paralleled his stage and screen activities. On the A side he is joined by Australian actor Dick Bentley (who appeared with Humphries in the first two Barry McKenzie films) for Along the Road to Gundagai and Is’e an Aussie is’e Lizzie. The B side is Edna Everage singing True British Spunk, originally written for a BBC TV series in 1969 but excised before broadcast. One Humphries biographer has noted that his best songs are written for Edna.
NFSA spokesperson: Sound Archivist Graham McDonald or Senior Curator of sound, Broadcast and New Media, Matthew Davies

It’s A Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll)
AC/DC, Albert AP 10990, 1975
T.N.T. was the second studio album from AC/DC and defined their style of hard edged, riff-based rock music. The first track on the LP, It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n’ Roll) has become an anthem of this genre of music, and the phrase has become part of the Australian language. It is also notable for the use of highland bagpipes in rock music. T.N.T. was an Australian-only release with most of the tracks being released overseas on High Voltage (Atlantic Records) which included a slightly shorter version of It’s a Long Way to the Top.
NFSA spokesperson: Sound Archivist Graham McDonald or Senior Curator of sound, Broadcast and New Media, Matthew Davies

Tender Prey
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Mute STUMM 52, 1988
This is the fifth studio album from the band and was recorded and mixed over eight months in various studios in Berlin, London and Melbourne between late 1987 and early 1988. Well reviewed on release, chart success came only in the UK, although it has since been recognised as an important stage in the group’s artistic development. The album is notable for its approach to the recording process, being built up from layered-over fragments and ideas rather than being based on a solid rhythmic foundation. The best known track is The Mercy Seat, a mainstay of Cave’s live shows ever since, and covered by Johnny Cash.
NFSA spokesperson: Sound Archivist Graham McDonald or Senior Curator of sound, Broadcast and New Media, Matthew Davies
Title-related spokesperson: Band member Mick Harvey

The Necks, Fish of Milk FOM0007, 2001
The Necks are a unique and widely admired three-piece band who plays a distinctive improvised music. The group is Chris Abrahams on piano and Hammond organ, Tony Buck on drums, percussion and electric guitar and Lloyd Swanton on bass guitar and double bass. Their music is improvised around rhythmic or melodic patterns and one piece can be an entire CD. Aether is a masterpiece of their style.
NFSA spokesperson: Recorded Sound Specialist Thorsten Kaeding
Title-related spokesperson: Band members Lloyd Swanton and Chris Abrahams


The 2012 additions to the National Registry of Recorded Sound, along with still and moving images, can be downloaded from the NFSA’s Media Portal.

Interviews are available with NFSA expert curators and talent associated with the sound recordings.

For interviews, access to the Media Portal and other enquiries, contact Miguel Gonzalez on 02 8202 0114 or 0404 281 632, or