Entertainment Music Sounds that made Australia: A true blue anthem, Gough Whitlam jingle, and Silverchair celebrated

Sounds that made Australia: A true blue anthem, Gough Whitlam jingle, and Silverchair celebrated

Silverchair burst onto Australia's music scene in 1994 with their single 'Tomorrow'. Photo: Push Archives
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It’s one of those lyrics that your brain automatically sings when you read it.

“Do what you wanna do, be what you wanna be …”

Now, the 1970s masterpiece Because I Love You by The Master’s Apprentices is one of the official Sounds of Australia, inducted into the National Film and Sound Archive’s Sounds of Australia registry.

Each year, the registry collects 10 recordings that have had a defining effect on Australian culture.

This year’s list has sounds precious to almost every generation.

“It really is recognition of those sounds that have a huge cultural impact that really stand the test of time and remain with people,” curator Thorsten Kaeding said.

The ‘Newcastle sound’ added to registry

Established by the National Film and Sound Archive in 2007, the registry invites the public to nominate new sounds to be added each year, with the final selections decided by a panel of industry experts.

Among them is Australia’s response to the Seattle sound, the breakthrough 1994 single Tomorrow, by three teenagers from Newcastle playing under the name Innocent Criminals.

Rebranding themselves Silverchair, the band quickly became a household name, sitting at the top of the ARIA charts for six weeks and breaking into the US market, where the track hit No.1.

“I remember that song just exploded on Australian radio. And this is these three teenagers from Newcastle, who just captured that grand era, that sound, the whole vibe of the time,” Mr Kaeding said.

Tomorrow really summed that up and still does. As soon as you hear it, you’re taken all the way back there.”

A true blue anthem inducted

John Williamson’s 1986 classic True Blue is another song that captures a moment in time in Australia’s history.

It’s a track that draws heavily on quintessential Aussie slang and was the soundtrack to the Australian Made campaign.

The national cricket and rugby union teams even adopted True Blue as an unofficial theme song.

“It pretty much immediately just hit a nerve I think with Australians, and came to represent something more than a popular music song,” Mr Kaeding said.

“All these years later, it’s still being used because it speaks to something for people. And that’s, I think, the enduring power of music.”

Toilet humour, Olympics operas and political jingles

In the year that former prime minister Gough Whitlam’s dismissal has returned to headlines, it seems fitting his 1972 election campaign jingle, It’s Time, is being added to the archives.

Written by Whitlam’s campaign director Paul Jones and sung by Alison McCallum, with a chorus of ’70s Aussie stars, the It’s Time phrase has become an enduring part of the national political firmament, often repeated in campaigns for change.

One of the first recordings to bring the didgeridoo to the mainstream also joins the registry this year.

Arnhem Land Popular Classics featured field recordings of elders playing the didgeridoo, known as the Yidaki in Yolngu, and singing near Katherine in the early ’60s.

Delving further back into the nation’s aural history, recordings by Eileen Joyce, a piano prodigy who played for soldiers during World War II on the BBC, and baritone Hamilton Hill, whose 1907 song Starlight remains as an example of the country’s emerging recording industry, will be added to the registry.

Rounding out the new additions are the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games Official Souvenir Recording; Nausicaa: Opera in Three Acts by Peggy Glanville-Hicks; and the recordings of comedy duo Tony Martin and Mick Molloy’s 1990s radio program Martin/Molloy.

In a statement, Martin said he was honoured to be inducted into Sounds of Australia.

“As fans of our show would recall, some of those sounds were rather rude, but as a massive radio nerd – and a New Zealander – this is a huge honour,” he said.


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