Peter Garrett and Midnight Oil play at the Royal Theatre in Canberra in 2009. Photo: Glen McCurtayne
Fans of 1980s music (you know who you are) - pay attention, your country needs you.
The National Film and Sound Archive has admitted to Fairfax Media it has a blind spot: '80s music – and it wants your help to set the record straight.
National Registry of Recorded Sound archivist Graham McDonald has asked Fairfax readers to help identify which '80s songs "really reflected something about Australia", so the 'Sounds of Australia' list can be updated.
The Divinyls at Homebake in 2007. Photo: Edwina Pickles
"We are aware the registry doesn't have much music from the early to mid-1980s," McDonald says. "And we know there were so many really internationally successful bands at that time, the likes of Air Supply, Midnight Oil, Cold Chisel, the Divinyls. I shouldn't even mention names really because there are so many I'm bound to overlook some.
"It is something of a hole for us. We'd like to know, with 30 years hindsight, what are the standout acts and songs of that time?"
That particular decade was of course a key time in Australian music, both in terms of popular success and creativity: our soft-rock acts were doing well internationally, but at home a harder-edged rock identity was well established and evolving in different directions, led initially by AC/DC, Cold Chisel, The Angels, Hunters & Collectors and INXS. Separate to that, Australian pop (Kylie Minogue, Crowded House), new wave (Icehouse) and alternative rock (The Go Betweens, The Church, The Sunnyboys) acts were making themselves known.
Cold Chisel's Ian Moss and Jimmy Barnes. Photo: Ashley Mar
Picking a defining sound is impossible of course, so you can give up on that idea. McDonald is interested in identifying music that says something about Australia, but also recognises iconic Australian artists. For instance, Olivia Newton John's 1981 global smash Physical doesn't sound very "Australian" (whatever an Australian song sounds like), but she's among our greatest icons. On the other hand, most people wouldn't pick Gang Gajang in a crowd, but the band's 1985 song Sounds of Then is pure Australiana. So it's up to you.
While McDonald's main assignment for Fairfax readers is to help identify the most valuable '80s songs, you are free to nominate another recording (although not from television, it's not included in the register). So for instance, a key moment from a radio broadcast of a football grand final or an Ashes test could be nominated.
"We don't have any grand final calls yet, or anything from a cricket test," McDonald says.
What about a non-cricket cricket moment, like Kerry O'Keefe's unforgettable laugh? "Yes absolutely. Or one of his ridiculous jokes."
There are two ways to have a say in the songs (and sounds) that will be added to the 'Sounds of Australia' list: vote in our poll below (which is our list songs released in the '80s, not an official selection), or submit your own nomination directly to the archive - before September 9.
After that date a shortlist will be drawn up and a panel of 35 musicians, producers, academics, collectors, record industry folks and journalists will vote to select 10 new entrants to the registry, which currently contains 80 recordings. That existing list is here - so you don't nominate something that is already included - like Kylie's I Should Be So Lucky, or Men At Work's Down Under.
Submit a suggestion straight to the National Film and Sound Archive for consideration for the 'Sounds of Australia' list, or just vote in our poll below.