2014 Registry additions

Syria Lamonte in Melbourne 'Punch’, 19 October 1899

Courtesy State Library of Victoria

1898 They Always Follow Me   Syria Lamonte
Berliner E3013

Syria Lamonte (1869-1935) is the earliest known Australian performer to make a commercial recording. Lamonte was born Sarah Cohen in Sydney and arrived in London in 1896. She recorded 21 record ‘sides’ between August and October 1898 at The Gramophone Company in London.

American sound engineer Fred Gaisberg recorded the discs using the new zinc-etched, flat disc technology. This involved cutting a lateral groove into a wax coating on a zinc disc which was then acid-etched to make a deeper groove from which stampers could be made. One of the songs she recorded was They Always Follow Me, from the 1897 musical The Belle of New York.

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They Always Follow Me

Syria Lamonte (Berliner E3013)   NFSA title: 1251712

Governor Sir Dudley de Chair at Government House, Sydney, 2 September 1929

Photo by Baden Herbertson. Courtesy of the National Library of Australia.

1926 Speech at the Opening of the Columbia Graphophone Company Australian Factory   Admiral Sir Dudley De Chair KCB MVO
Columbia 1180637

The opening of the Columbia Graphophone Company record factory in Homebush, Sydney on 14 October 1926 marks the beginning of the record industry in Australia. The first recording plant in Australasia, it enabled the mass production of shellac 78rpm discs of both imported masters and local recordings by Australian performers. The speech by the Governor of NSW, Sir Dudley de Chair (1864-1958), highlights the significance of the occasion for developing Australian industries. His speech takes place during an official luncheon and the sound of cutlery and other background noise is clearly audible throughout the recording.

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Speech at the Opening of the Columbia Graphophone Company Australian Factory

Admiral Sir Dudley De Chair (Columbia 1180637)   NFSA title: 774314

ABC war correspondent Chester Wilmot, recording at Tobruk in 1940

Courtesy ABC Document Archives

1941 Concert in a Cave at Tobruk   Chester Wilmot, ABC Field Unit
ABC Archives

ABC war correspondent Chester Wilmot (1911-1954) pioneered the use of recording equipment in the field. He spent several months in Tobruk in 1941 during the siege by German and Italian troops when the Australian soldiers became known as the Rats of Tobruk. He recorded his dispatches on lacquer discs, sometimes with the sounds of gunfire or bombing raids in the background.

In October 1941 the ABC Field Unit recorded a concert put on by 400 Australian soldiers in an ammunition cave. Wilmot’s introduction places you right in the cave alongside the men and the musical performances (including the short song Bless Them All and a wistful saxophone and piano accordion instrumental) reveal the acoustics to be surprisingly good. The highlight is one soldier’s stirring rendition of The Legion of the Lost, with the massed voices of the makeshift military choir bringing the song to a rousing finale.

Listen to more Chester Wilmot recordings in the Western Desert, 1941 on Soundcloud.

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Concert in a Cave at Tobruk

Chester Wilmot, ABC Field Unit. Courtesy ABC Archives

Dr Val Stephen Using a Moog synthesizer, late 1960s

Courtesy of Gwen Stephen

1967 Fireworks and The Orgasmic Opus   Dr Val Stephen
Folkways FM3436

Two recordings by Dr Val Stephen (1919-1998) are the first electronic music compositions by an Australian artist to be released internationally on a commercial record label. Stephen was a Melbourne anaesthetist who first encountered European experimental music in the late 1950s and built his own sound-generating equipment. Despite his self-described ‘amateur’ musician status, his tracks Fireworks and The Orgasmic Opus (both recorded in 1963) appeared on the American Folkways compilation album Electronic Music in 1967.

In Fireworks, Stephen manipulates everyday sounds to create a dazzling display of sonic pyrotechnics as high-pitched electronic noises explode above a persistent background throb. The Orgasmic Opus comically suggests a brief sexual encounter with a series of bleeps overlaying a burbling melody and ending in an explosive climax.

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Fireworks

Val Stephen (Folkways FM3436)

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The Orgasmic Opus

Val Stephen (Folkways FM3436)
Aerial view of the band, consisting of five men, standing on a staircase

Cold Chisel, 1979

Courtesy of the artist

1978 Khe Sanh   Cold Chisel
WEA 600038

Khe Sanh was the first Cold Chisel single and remains a popular anthem about the Australian experience of the Vietnam War and the lingering after effects on those who served there. It is composed as a series of verses without a chorus, a structure which reflects the restless mood of the lyrics about a man who can’t stop wandering and settle down. Khe Sanh only reached No. 41 on the national charts, its sales potential hindered by a commercial radio ban. The ban was ostensibly because of drug and sexual references, but composer Don Walker suspected it was more to do with a broader unwillingness to come to grips with the aftermath of a failed war.

Watch Khe Sanh in full on the Cold Chisel YouTube channel

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Khe Sanh

Cold Chisel (WEA 600038)   NFSA title: 260154

Chrissy Amphlett and Mark McEntee

Courtesy of the artist   NFSA title: 475052

1981 Boys in Town   Divinyls
WEA 100178

Boys in Town was the first song written by singer Chrissy Amphlett and guitarist Mark McEntee, the core of Divinyls throughout the band’s existence from 1980 until 2007. It was recorded for the soundtrack of the film Monkey Grip (Ken Cameron, Australia, 1982) and also released as the band’s first single, reaching No. 8 on the national charts. Boys in Town has a driving beat and a sexually provocative lyric, sung with unashamed brashness by Amphlett. The desperate quality to her vocal performance matches the longing for change expressed in the lyrics. Amphlett was part of a new surge of compelling women fronting guitar-driven rock/pop bands in Australia around this time.

Watch Boys in Town (live) in full on the Divinyls VEVO YouTube channel

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Boys in Town

Divinyls (WEA 100178)   NFSA title: 296374
Medium close-up of Iva Davies

Iva Davies, ICEHOUSE

Courtesy of the artist

1982 Great Southern Land   ICEHOUSE
Regular Records RRSP715

Great Southern Land is one of the most enduring popular songs from the early 1980s about the nature of Australia. The song reflects a blend of Australian geography and culture, with lyrics that cast back across the vast history of the land and its Indigenous inhabitants, to a time long before the arrival of white settlers. The music adds to the sense of place, suggesting the openness and expansiveness of Australia’s desert interior. Songwriter and composer Iva Davies made extensive use of the new generation of polyphonic synthesizers, especially the Prophet 5 and Linn drum machine, in creating the song and the LP, Primitive Man, from which it came. Great Southern Land reached No. 5 on the national charts.

Watch Great Southern Land with an introduction from Iva Davies on the ICEHOUSE YouTube channel

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Great Southern Land

ICEHOUSE (Regular Records RRSP715)   NFSA title: 428036

The Go-Betweens

Courtesy of the artist

1983 Cattle and Cane   The Go-Betweens
Rough Trade RT124

Cattle and Cane is a signature song by The Go-Betweens, one of the most critically acclaimed Australian bands of the 1980s. It is an autobiographical reminiscence by Grant McLennan (who wrote the song with Robert Forster) of a train trip home to North Queensland as a schoolboy. The song was written and recorded by a homesick McLennan in London and the lyrics mention several natural features of the distant (in space and memory) Australian landscape: cattle, cane, tin, timber and fire (cinders). The music has a dreamy, atmospheric quality that matches the introspective theme of the lyrics. In 2001 the Australasian Performing Rights Association voted Cattle and Cane one of the Top Thirty Australian songs of all time.

Watch Robert Forster and Grant McLennan from The Go-Betweens introduce and play Cattle and Cane on The Go-Betweens YouTube channel

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Cattle and Cane

The Go-Betweens (Rough Trade RT124)   NFSA title: 736789

Dingo at wildlife sanctuary

Please note: this is not the actual dingo in the recording; image used under Creative Commons licence (http://ca.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dingo#mediaviewer/File:Dingo_face444.jpg)

1990 Dingo   Vicki Powys
When recorded in 1990 this was the only known recording made of a solo dingo howling in the wild. Powys recorded the dingo sounds early in the morning at Palm Valley in Finke Gorge National Park, Northern Territory, during a winter camping trip. She used a Sony Cassette Walkman and two ‘tie-pin’ microphones at a distance of only a few metres as the curious dingo approached her campsite. Powys is a landscape artist who has been recording nature and studying wildlife since the 1980s. She is a key member of the Australian Wildlife Sound Recording Group.

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Dingo

Vicki Powys   NFSA title: 1221379
Woman smiling with Sydney Harbour Bridge in backdrop

Rhoda Roberts, Deadly Sounds presenter

Courtesy of Rhoda Roberts

1993-2014 Deadly Sounds   Vibe Australia

Deadly Sounds was a weekly one-hour Indigenous radio program featuring interviews with special guests and music by Indigenous artists. Hosted by journalist, actor and author Rhoda Roberts, it ran for 21 years from 1993. In the first episode, Roberts discussed racism in sport with Nicky Winmar, St Kilda player in the AFL league, and spoke to two Indigenous high school students about their winning entry at the Sydney finals of the Rock Eisteddfod. The Deadly Sounds musical intro, which you can hear in the clip below, emphasises the program’s focus on Indigenous music ('listen to black music, hear the deadly sounds’). To that end, the first episode also introduced the Deadly Sounds National Indigenous Music Chart, which helped give exposure to emerging and established Indigenous musicians. Deadly Sounds was distributed nationally to over 200 stations every week, initially on cassette and later through the Community Radio Network and National Indigenous Radio Service satellites.

Listen to Deadly Sounds Episode 1 in full on SoundCloud

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Deadly Sounds

Vibe Australia   NFSA title: 696283

Comments

I would love to find a copy of "Concert in a cave at Tobruk", my Grandfather (92 years young and going strong) fought with the 2/13th and I am sure he would love to hear this!

Michael Bailey on 21 Nov 2014, 9:42 a.m.

Fascinating stuff to anyone interested in Australian history - it's always good to keep learning and developing a better understanding of how we got to where we are. But at another level this unexpectedly stirs up quite a deep pride in being an Australian. Thanks.

Rick Lewis on 24 Nov 2014, 8:35 a.m.

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