From humble beginnings, as a music retailer on Flinders Street in Melbourne, Central Station Records has stood the test of time, becoming the longest running independent dance label in Australia, synonymous with the rise of dance music and culture from the 70s, through to today. The store was the first of its kind to be importing the new wave of disco and hip hop slowly creeping into the mainstream throughout the late 70s - everything from Antiono Rogriguez’s ‘La Bamba’, to one of the most iconic hip hop records of all time ‘Rappers Delight’ by The Sugarhill Gang.
By the mid-late 80s, a further 5 retail stores opened around the country, including the infamous shop in Pitt Street Mall. Central Station Records was responsible for discovering the best house, disco, tech and NRG records from US, UK, and Europe, and quickly became a dominant force in the industry. The various stores became a hub for every local DJ, producer, enthusiast to get their hands on the newest dance music from all corners of the globe. The iconic vinyl counter becoming home to many of Australia’s leading DJs and music industry professionals.
In 1986, Jo Palumbo and Morgan Williams, expanded their budding empire - officially founding the record label of the same name. By 1988, Central Station had their first major underground hit with the release of Hithouse ‘Jack to the Sound of the Underground’, and shortly followed by their first commercial hit record from Australia’s own soap star Stefan Denis with ‘Don’t It Make You Feel Good’, which quickly soared to #16 on the UK singles chart.
With the label briefly folding in the early 90s, due to increased production costs, Central Station Records came back into the market just a few years later bigger and stronger than ever before. The label continued to take chances on obscure international records, and succeeding every step of the way. Releasing everything from high energy to the popular gay athems, it was youthful, exciting, and a game changer for the Australian industry, having never seen a small indie label being able to compete on such a level. From there, the commercial hits continued to impress, starting with Danni Minogues ‘93 hit ‘This Is It’, followed by a dance remix of Nikki French’s ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ reaching #2 on the mainstream charts, succeeded only by the happy hardcore record from Dutch group Hocus Pocus ‘Here’s Johnny’ - becoming the first dance single to hit #1 in Australia, and holding the spot for 5 weeks. A huge moment for the label and for the burgeoning dance music scene at the time.
It soon became apparent that the brand was ready to branch out once more, launching a series of sub-labels including Tinted Records, Dinky, Hardwax, and Bang On, each becoming an integral part of the local music culture in their own right. Tim McGee, now CEO of TMRW Music, launched Tinted Records as an outlet for the latest house music that was becoming more and more prominent, with the popularity of club nights such as Stateside. With its first release in ‘97 with Byron Stingily’s ‘Get Up Everybody’, the label would go on to be one of the most respected house labels in the country, and in just a few short years releasing one of the most iconic dance records of the late ‘90s, Armand Van Heldon’s ‘You Don’t Know Me’, a global hit, reaching #15 on the ARIA singles chart, and #1 on the UK singles chart.
By the late 90s, the label had two very clear personas, the underground tastemaker being worked through the sub-label eco-system, and the commercial side driven by the close relationship with local dance station Wild FM - teaming up to release what would become one of the most successful compilations series throughout Australia. With the two forces combined, the businesses were able to make hits out of records that weren’t hits anywhere else in the world, selling over 250,000 units at the height of its success, with more than half sold in Sydney alone.
With a long history of licensing a diverse catalogue of dance music, Central Station Records became home to the Dutch supergroup of the late 90’s, the Vengaboys. A law unto themselves, the Vengaboys are the most successful pop act to come out of the Netherlands - releasing their ARIA accredited double platinum LP ‘The Party Album’ in ‘99, featuring platinum singles ‘We Like to Party’ and ‘Boom Boom Boom Boom’ - all of which still wildly popular today.
The turn of the millennia marked a new era for the label once more, with Tim McGee leaving the business to start Ministry of Sound Australia, leaving the charismatic scotsman Jamie Raeburn to lead the charge. With experience in the industry spanning 30 years, Jamie worked across across media, brand & artist development, publishing, and record label management, and once again saw Central Station Records hold its own amongst the majors.
With a brief hiatus, following the liquidation of parent company Dax Music, Jamie was tasked with re-invigorating the business once more. Fast forward to 2010’s, and the label is continuing to solidify its status as an international player. Working with some of the biggest names in dance music such as Above & Beyond, to producing some of the biggest talent from Australia, including Bombs Away (achieving multiple platinum and gold records), and Brisbane producer Odd Mob, with his instant classic ‘Is It A Banger?’ hitting triple j’s famed Hottest 100. Releasing Starley’s debut single ‘Call On Me’ shortly followed by a remix courtesy of fellow Australian Ryan Riback, hitting 1 billion streams across platforms - one of few Australian artists to reach this milestone, with the record further certified 4x platinum in Australia, and platinum across North America, UK, and Germany.
Now home to a variety of imprints, including the re-freshed Tinted Records, October Records, Dinky, and artist run labels including Bombsquad and Suck Music, Central Station Records has continued to diversify, allowing artists from all different backgrounds and musical persuasions to find a home at the label. From fostering and developing local talent, to competing for commercial hits on a global scale, Central Station Records is looking forward to celebrating another 40 years.