If you were saddled with the task of choosing songs to best represent Australia’s music history in 10 or 20 years time, what would you select?
Each year since its formation in 2007, the responsibility of the National Registry of Recorded Sound has been to collate public nominations for some of Australia’s most iconic and important recordings to add to a registry.
The final selections from public selections are then determined and added by a panel of industry experts, with the aim of preserving them for future generations as ‘Sounds Of Australia’.
News Ltd reports that the selections for this year’s additions to the ‘Sounds of Australia’ registry have been announced, with AC/DC’s legendary ‘It’s A Long Way To The Top’ and indigenous musical icon Jimmy Little’s breakthrough single ‘Royal Telephone’ the latest additions to make their historical mark on the National Registry of Recorded Sound.
Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds’ 1988 album Tender Prey and ambient jazz purists The Necks’ 2001 recording Aether have also been named as the 2012 Sounds of Australia, as well as releases from comedian Barry Humphries and important spoken word recordings from long lost Aboriginal languages and radio serials.
Molly Meldrum spoke to News Ltd about AC/DC’s addition to the 2012 Sounds of Australia, crediting the song’s straight-ahead melody and lyrics, as well as its iconic flatbet truck performance video and signature bagpipe riffing, as part of the hit’s enduring legacy.
”I don’t think anyone realised how timeless the song would be and that video is one of the most viewed in Australian history,” said Meldrum.
Thorsten Kaeding, a spokesman for the National Film and Sound Archive which keeps the registry, commented on the selection of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds 1998 album, which includes such tunes as ‘The Mercy Seat’ and ‘Deanna’, in the 2012 Sounds of Australia.
“[Tender Prey] set the pattern for where they were going and really articulated that sound and the storytelling and darkness of [Cave’s] work,” Kaeding said.
John O’Donnell, co-author of the 100 Best Australian Albums, said that it was a controversial selection. Noting that while Tender Prey is a ”great album”, it is not Cave’s best.
”If they were looking for a record from the 1980s, I would put a lot in front of it when you don’t have Midnight Oil or Cold Chisel in the registry yet,” said O’Donnell.
Meanwhile, Jimmy Little’s manager Buzz Bidstrup is honoured by the selection of ‘Royal Telephone’ remarking that: ”People all around the country identify Jimmy with that song; it’s plumbed deeply into the psyche of Australians.”
Bidstrup also told press that it took many years for the singer to receive royalties from the song because it was copyrighted as a Baptist hymn.
“A few years ago, we managed to register the song as being Jimmy Little’s arrangement,” said Bidstrup, “so he was able to receive royalties for it but all those years it was No.1, he made nothing from it except the joy of singing it.”
You can view the full list of the 2012 Sounds of Australia below:
Jimmy Little – ,Royal Telephone, 1963
AC/DC – It’s A Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll) by AC/DC, 1975
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Tender Prey, 1988
The Necks – Aehter, 2001
A Track Winding Back by Barry Humphries and Dick Bentley including Along the Road to Gundagai, 1972;
The Black Watch by Percy Herford one of the oldest known commercially released Australian recordings, 1903-1910;
Formative recordings of Australian-Hawaiian music, 1927-1932;
Grace Gibson Productions’ radio serials including long-running family drama Dr Paul and crime serial Night Beat, 1946-1970;
The Luise Hercus Collection (from the AIATSIS Audiovisual Archive) including recordings of more than 40 endangered or no longer spoken Aboriginal languages, 1963-1997;
Tim Bowden’s Patrol from Da Nang radio documentary made for ABC radio’s Fact & Opinion, 1966;