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2012 Registry additions
c 1903-1910 – The Black Watch — Percy Herford
1927-1932 – Queenie and David Kaili – Sydney recordings
1944 onwards – Grace Gibson Productions’ radio serials — Various artists
1963 – Royal Telephone — Jimmy Little
1963-1997 – The Luise Hercus Collection, AIATSIS Audiovisual Archive — Dr Luise A Hercus (creator)
1966 – Patrol from Da Nang — Tim Bowden
1972 – A Track Winding Back — Barry Humphries and Dick Bentley
1975 – It’s A Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll) — AC/DC
1988 – Tender Prey — Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
2001 – Aether — The Necks
2012 Sounds of Australia patron: David Bridie, musician and producer
This year’s selection covers almost an entire century, from Australia’s oldest known commercially released recording The Black Watch (1903) by Percy Herford, to a 2001 album by improvised music trio The Necks. It ranges from popular songs such as AC/DC’s It’s A Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll) and Jimmy Little’s 1963 classic Royal Telephone, to a collection containing more than 40 endangered and extinct Indigenous languages.
c 1903—1910 The Black Watch — Percy Herford
Australia Record No 58
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. 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.
1927—1932 Queenie and David Kaili – Sydney recordings
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.
Ukulele Lullaby – Parlophone A2364 (Nov 1927)
Shoo the Hoodoo Away – Parlophone A3053 (Aug 1930)
Sittin’ on the Moon – Parlophone A3210 (July 1931)
From 1944 Grace Gibson Productions’ radio serials — Various artists
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 Dumetrius. 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.
Night Beat, Episode 007, 1946
Contributors: Howard Craven (NRT), Ross Napier (SCR), Ron Ingleby (SCR), Lawrence H Cecil (PDR).
Cast: Alan White (Randy Stone)
Dossier On Dumetrius, Episode 087, 1951
Contributors: Lawrence H Cecil (PDR), Lindsay Hardy (SCR).
Cast: Bruce Stewart (Gregory Keen), Frank Waters (Tommy Coutts), Guy Doleman (Dumetrius), Dinah Shearing (Hedy Bergner), Reginald Goldsworthy (Peter Ridgeway), Alan White (Godowski), Ruth Cracknell (Dora).
Dr Paul, Episode 4626, c 1963
Contributors: Reg Johnston (PDR), Therese Desmond (PDR), Judy Johnstone (SCR), Richard Lane (PDC, SCR), Hilda Scurr (PDR), Eden Rutter (PDR), Kathleen Carroll (SCR), Creswick Jenkinson, (SCR), Ron Roberts (NRT), Lever Brothers (SPO).
Cast: John Bushelle (Dr Paul), Alastair Duncan (Dr Paul), Dinah Shearing (Virginia Martin), Lynne Murphy (Virginia Martin), Laurel Mather (Elizabeth), Michael Plant (Ricky Scanlon), Alan White (Dr John Cabot), Margaret Christensen (Virginia Martin), Amber Mae Cecil (Leota), Brigit Lenihan (Molly, Dr Paul’s housekeeper).
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Castlereagh Line, c 1980
Contributors: Ross Napier (AUT), Grace Gibson Productions (PDC).
Cast: Ric Hutton, Wynne Nelson, Deryk Barnes.
Summary: Set in 1880, The Castlereagh Line commences with the establishment of a Coach Line in northern New South Wales.
Cattleman, episode 099, c 1961
Contributors: RS Porteus (AUT), Grace Gibson Productions (PDC).
Cast: Frank Waters, Nigel Lovell, Lyndall Barbour, Lynne Murphy, Muriel Steinbeck, John
Summary: The story of Ben McCready based on the novel by RS Porteus.
Audio courtesy Grace Gibson Productions
1963 Royal Telephone — Jimmy Little
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.
Audio courtesy of Warner Music
1963—1997 The Luise Hercus Collection, AIATSIS Audiovisual Archive — Dr Luise A Hercus (creator)
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. This clip features a verse from a wind arresting song belonging to Pirlakaya native well ‘Beelaka’ and sung by Mick McLean in Pt Augusta on January 31, 1974. Mick McLean’s birthplace is in the central Simpson Desert and the language he’s singing in is Wangkangurru.
Audio: courtesy of AIATSIS
1966 Patrol from Da Nang — Tim Bowden
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.
Audio: courtesy of ABC Archives
1972 A Track Winding Back — Barry Humphries and Dick Bentley
Philips 6205 019
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.
Along the Road to Gundagai –- Barry Humphries and Dick Bentley
True British Spunk — Edna Everage
Audio: courtesy of Barry Humphries
1975 It’s A Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll) — AC/DC
Albert AP 10990
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.
Audio: courtesy J Albert & Son
Composed by Scott/Young/Young
Performed by AC/DC
© & (P) 1975 J Albert & Son Pty Limited
1988 Tender Prey — Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Mute STUMM 52
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 title: 425260 (Tender Prey)
Audio: courtesy Mute Records/EMI Australia
2001 Aether — The Necks
Fish of Milk FOM0007
The Necks are a unique and widely admired three-piece band who play 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.