Rock stars and dingoes join the NFSA collection
BY ADAM BLACKSHAW
Tens of thousands of items are collected by the NFSA each year for the national audiovisual collection. These are some highlights of what we collected in 2014. Read 2014 at the NFSA, Part 1.
John’s early interest in audio technology and his love of the Australian bush led him to create the world’s pre-eminent collection of Western Australian bird songs over a period of 50 years. Included in the acquisition was a number of recordings of Indigenous songs and ceremonies.
We also collected environmental and wildlife digital sound recordings from Vicki Powys. Vicki has been recording wildlife sounds since the 1980s and is currently sound editor for the Australian Wildlife Sound Recording group.
Vicki’s recording of a dingo was made in Palm Valley in Finke Gorge National Park, Northern Territory. When made in 1990 it was the only known recording of a solo male dingo howling in the wild. This recording was added to the Sounds of Australia registry in 2014.
Vicki Powys, Dingo. NFSA title: 1221379
In 1978 Bart Willoughby formed Australia’s first Indigenous rock band, No Fixed Address, fusing reggae with Indigenous Australian musical influences. For over 30 years he has been a central figure in the growth of Indigenous music in Australia.
One of the most highly anticipated events at the Melbourne Indigenous Arts Festival in February 2014 was Bart’s performance of ‘We Still Live On’ using the Melbourne Town Hall’s iconic Grand Organ.
The NFSA assisted with the audiovisual recording and post-production of this special event.
Radical Son crosses musical genres as a soul singer, rapper and spoken word performer. The NFSA acquired and supported the launch of his latest album, Cause ‘N Effect, at the 2014 Australian Worldwide Music Expo. We also recorded an interview with him for our collection.
Radical Son, ‘Talk to Me’ from the LP Cause ‘N Effect
Salam Cafe, Series 2 Episode 1 (2005). NFSA Title: 1226691. Courtesy RMITV
Salam Cafe was an award-winning Australian comedy talk show originally broadcast on Channel 31 community television under the title Ramadan TV. It won several Antenna Awards, recognising the best in community television programs, and made the transition to free-to-air TV when it was broadcast for a ten-week season on SBS in 2008.
The show was hosted by Ahmed Imam and filmed in front of a live audience in Sydney and Melbourne. It viewed life as a Muslim in Australia through panel discussions on issues of the day, vox pops and comedy sketches.
Australian music history
Skyhooks were a flamboyant and seminal Australian rock band formed in Melbourne in 1973.
Their debut album, Living in the 70s (1974), and their 1975 follow-up Ego is Not a Dirty Word, both reached number one on the Kent Music Report national album charts.
The original multi-tracks of these two albums were loaned to the NFSA in 2014, allowing us to make digital copies for the national collection.
Paul Kelly’s song ‘From Little Things Big Things Grow’ (1991) is instantly recognisable to most Australians and was added to the Sounds of Australia registry in 2010. It is just one hit from a career spanning 40 years.
This year the NFSA received a donation of Paul Kelly’s master audio material from the 1970s to the present.
Paul is one of Australia’s foremost singer-songwriters, and this invaluable collection represents an outstanding career.
From LGBTI to CBGBs
Gaywaves, Sydney’s first gay and lesbian radio program, was considered groundbreaking when it went to air in November 1979 on community radio station 2SER. This was at a time when homosexuality was still illegal in New South Wales.
The NFSA has been collecting a large number of episodes of Gaywaves, ensuring the preservation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) radio in the national collection.
This year we acquired a broadcast of the 2014 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras as part of the Gaywaves project. The broadcast was originally heard live on JOY 94.9, 2SER and Star Observer Digital in Sydney, as well as across the Community Radio Network.
Another radio collection highlight relates to the noted Australian journalist and author Lillian Roxon (1932–1973). Roxon spent a notable part of her career reporting on the American music scene of the 1960s and early ’70s. During 1971 she presented Lillian Roxon’s Discotheque, ‘a daily newscast from the world of music’, which was syndicated to 250 American radio stations.
Often called the ‘Mother of Rock’, Roxon was witness to the energy of the New York music scene shifting from Max’s Kansas City to an equally infamous venue, CBGBs. The latter launched the legendary punk band The Ramones in 1973, the year Lillian died.
Lillian’s radio broadcast from 1971 are now in the NFSA collection. Each segment is a short news story about some of music history’s iconic figures, including: Mick Jagger, John Lennon, Jim Morrison, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop and Australia’s Helen Reddy.
In their own words
The NFSA’s Oral History program records personal, first-hand recollections of careers in film, TV, radio or recorded sound that may be otherwise completely lost to future generations. Each year the NFSA conducts scores of oral history recordings with key professionals, practitioners, and established and emerging artists in the Australian audiovisual industry.
This year’s interviewees included musician and artist Chris O’Doherty, better known as Reg Mombassa, founding member of Mental As Anything; journalist, writer and documentary filmmaker John Pilger, who spoke about his life in the media; and Chris Bailey, who was recorded in Biggar (Scotland) talking about the very early days of seminal Australian punk band, The Saints.
John Pilger discusses childhood experiences that led to him becoming a journalist. NFSA title: 1220847
Chris Bailey discusses the very early days of The Saints in Brisbane. NFSA title: 1274700
As long as Australians continue telling stories, recording songs and capturing their experiences, dreams and expectations using moving image and recorded sound, the NFSA collection will never stop growing. What new (and old) items will we acquire in 2015? Stay tuned!