Thursday, December 18, 2008

Central Station - A Tribute

I'm still shocked by the unexpected closure of Central Station Records in late November. Everything appeared to be going well. They were celebrating their biggest hit in years with September's "Cry For You" and were busily commissioning local remixes for "Can't Get Over" and "Because I Love You" (the planned follow-up singles). I hope Central Station can arise from the ashes in one form or another but in all likelihood, they have released their last trashy dance anthem. What an utterly depressing thought. CSR was more than a record label - it was an institution. Their sad demise is a huge blow to the Australian music industry and dance music fans alike. It also leaves some of my favourite acts without local representation. September might be snapped up by another label but Dannii has already been dropped by every record company in this country and Melissa Tkautz was a hair's breath away from a life of crime at the best of times. The music scene just won't be the same.

On a personal note, I'd just like to thank Central Station for the cooperation and courtesy they showed me while I was writing Dannii's Dirty Box. I've never been good at holding my tongue (who will ever forget the amazing "Club Disco" launch party debacle or the fucked up "Touch Me Like That" tracklisting?) but they were really good sports about it. Most record companies would have hit the roof over some of my posts but CSR were actually interested in what the fans had to say. While I got to know the Central Station team a lot better due to my blogs, I was a fan of the label well before that. Like most 90s club kids, I grew up listening to Central Station. In fact, there was a time when the only dance music you could purchase in this country came with a CSR logo. I hate to think how much time I spent combing through the CDs at their Oxford Street store as a teenager. As a tribute to a great label and a great punch of people, here are some of my favourite Central Station anthems. Feel free to list your own.

In The Evening - Sheryl Lee Ralph (1996)

I simply can't imagine my teenage years without "In The Evening". Originally released in 1984, this became an unexpected hit in Australia more than a decade later thanks to a brilliant remix. My best friend and I would sneak into clubs (underage) and annoy the DJs by incessantly requesting it. "In The Evening" was released at the same time that I started venturing onto the gay scene and I guess for a long time I associated it with all things wild and naughty. I think I was even put on detention for playing it too loudly at school! Even now I still give this the occasional spin. It was the soundtrack to my coming out along with "Jellyhead" - the next anthem on my list.

Jellyhead - Crush (1996)

Now this brings back wonderful memories of the Albury and the Flinders (before the glamorous makeover). "Jellyhead" was one of those songs that had a huge gay following but never really crossed over to the mainstream (Mary Kiani's "I Imagine" suffered a similar fate). While it was never a chart smash, the Motiv 8 remix of "Jellyhead" was an Oxford Street classic. We heard (and requested) this every time we went out for months and months. It still makes me want to wear lime green and grab a glow stick!

Nicki French - For All We Know (1995)

I loved Central Station's Euro-trash phase in the mid-90s! A #89 Australian chart smash for Nicki, "For All We Know" remains one of my favourite trash anthems. I always preferred this cheesy SAW (well, Stock & Aitken at least) cover of The Carpenters' classic to "Total Eclipse Of the Heart" but it seems I was the only one. "For All We Know" was to be Nicki's last single released in this country. Shame, Australia, shame! Oh check out the video - the ballet dancers playing imaginary instruments get me every time!

Tatjana - Santa Maria (1995)

I can't include Nicki without featuring another amazing Stock/Aitken production from the 90s - this time from Dutch bombshell Tatjana. Like Nicki, Tatjana is still churning out fabulous music but her glory days (as far as international chart success is concerned) have well and truly passed. I can't remember if this was a hit for Central Station but I seem to remember it being played on Video Hits for weeks on end as a "Hit Pick". I think the producers were just mesmerised by Tatjana's pendulous baps in the video. I'll never tire of this one.

Ken Laszlo & Jenny - What A Lonely Night (1995)

I totally missed this gem the first time around. It was only after I started trawling Ebay for Italo Disco acts a couple of years ago that I came across this trashtastic duet between the legendary Ken Laszlo and some slut called Jenny. "What A Lonely Night" has to be one of the most random Central Station releases ever. It's total Eurodance, a big departure from the music they were churning out at the time. There's no video but you can hear the song here.

Deuce - On The Bible (1996)

Deuce were amazing! I was obsessed with them for a while and "On The Bible" was my absolute favourite. However, I'm not a huge fan of the version featured in the video. I'm pretty sure Australia went with a different remix. I'll have to dig out my copy to check. Anyway, this is another Central Station classic that brings back memories of nights out and bad behaviour. 1996 really was a bumper year!

Mousse T Vs Hot 'N' Juicy - Horny (1998)

Don't even pretend that you didn't dance around the club like a complete whore to this classic! "Horny" was THE slut anthem of the 90s and unexpectedly became one of Central Station's biggest hits. This was all class.

Neja - Restless (1999)

I had completely forgotten about this Italian diva until I started researching this post by ransacking my CD collection for Central Station releases. To be honest, I can't even remember buying this. However, I'm glad I did because Neja is a pop tart after my own heart and "Restless" is actually rather fabulous. I wonder what happened to her.

Trouser Enthusiasts - Sweet Release (1999)

Dannii fandom lead me to this single. Trouser Enthusiasts are none other than serial Dannii collaborators, Terry Ronald and Ian Masterson. They had a big club hit a couple of years prior to this with their remix of Kylie's "Did It Again" but "Sweet Release" was the only big hit they had under their own name. Personally, I think this is one of the best trance songs of the entire 1990s. Central Station really knew how to pick 'em. Listen to the song here.

Kosmonova - Danse Avec Moi (2000)

What the fuck happened to these guys? "Danse Avec Moi" was genius. Trance rarely sounded this elegant and classy - if you ignore the bad special effects filled video. Listening to this still makes me feel like I've gobbled down a handful of pills.

DJ Sammy - Heaven (2002)

It's a strange coincidence that I mentioned Spain's DJ Sammy several times in my last post. Before he revolutionised the Spanish music industry with Soraya's amazing new album, DJ Sammy churned out brilliant techno cover versions. With "Heaven", he achieved the impossible by making a Bryan Adams song sound interesting. I loved this when it was released and "Heaven" still stands up as a great dance tune. This was a top 10 hit for Central Station in 2002.

Despina Vandi - Gia (2003)

Central Station really did release some weird and wonderful singles. Greek diva Despina Vandi scored a surprise international hit with "Gia" and it was duly picked up for an Australian release. Unfortunately, "Gia" didn't set the charts on fire over here but I loved it and still love it. Despina needs to record a duet with Soraya!

Slinkee Minx - Summer Rain (2004)

The Slinkee Minx cover of Belinda Carlisle's 90s hit is an Australian pop classic. Central Station really nurtured these ladies, spending years (in retrospect, far too long) working on their debut album. It's horrible to think they no longer have a record deal - just as they were planning to release new material. Fingers crossed the girls find something new or go it alone. Australia needs them to add some much needed fabulousness to the local pop scene.

Moustache Feat. Melinda Jackson - Everywhere (2005)

I've already written about this brilliant cover version on Pop Trash Addicts. It introduced me to the lovely Melinda Jackson (who sadly seems to have fallen off the radar) and remains one of my favourite Australian pop singles of the past few years. Watch the classy video here.

Infernal - From Paris To Berlin

I've been a huge Infernal fan for years and was really excited when they got a local release. I never dreamed that "From Paris To Berlin" would be a smash hit over here but it was massive, prompting further singles and a tour. I even got Paw's autograph - Yes, I know I'm a loser! Central Station were still deciding whether to release their latest album ("Electric Cabaret") when they closed. At least we'll always have the "From Paris To Berlin (Tour Edition)"!

EliZe - Automatic (2005)

EliZe is the second breathtaking Dutch diva to feature on this list. I still remember the first time I heard "Automatic" on Australian radio - I almost fell off my seat in awe. "Automatic" is pop of the highest calibre. Kylie would kill for it and Dannii would kill Kylie for it. Speaking of the Minogues, EliZe rips off Kylie mercilessly in the fabulous video. This would be high on my shortlist for Central Station's best ever single. EliZe is still going strong. Her latest single "Lovesick" could well feature on my best of 2008 countdown.

Bananarama - Move In My Direction (2006)

Those old slappers from Bananarama found a happy home at Central Station. Their comeback didn't really set the world on fire but the singles were fabulous and the album ("Drama") was a trash lover's wet dream. Time for something new, ladies!

Gabriel & Dresden - Tracking Treasure Down

This is quite simply one of the best dance singles of the decade. It's haunting, hypnotic and very beautiful. I still blast "Tracking Treasure Down" on my Ipod when I'm feeling the need for some quality progressive house. If you haven't heard it, make sure you check it out. This will appeal to pop fans as well as dance fans.

Dannii - Touch Me Like That

I was always going to include some Dannii and it was a toss up between "Touch Me Like That" and "So Under Pressure" (which I vastly prefer) but I chose to feature the former because of the fond memories I have of its fucked up release. There were problems with iTunes, the single was chart ineligible due to Central Station including too many remixes and one of the remixes was incorrectly labelled. There was also considerable fan excitement when it briefly peaked at #97 - on the iTunes' albums chart. It could only happen to Dannii. I swear the "Touch Me Like That" debacle kept Dannii's Dirty Box going for months!

September - Cry For You

This makes me sad. September was Central Station's last big success. At least they went out on a high. I'm not crazy about Scandipop but "Cry For You" is a pop masterpiece. A great sample, Petra's emotive vocals and a killer chorus all help to make this one of the best Euro-pop anthems of 2008. Central Station were already planning for the second and third singles when they closed. I guess we'll never get them but thankfully September's selt-titled album was released. It's well worth rescuing from bargain bins around Australia.

And Central Station's Worst Single?

The crap below gets my vote. Oh, who am I kidding? I love this shit! It's so bad it's brilliant and the video is a masterpiece. I hope Amy followed her true calling and entered the adult entertainment industry.

Thanks for all the great memories.


Paul said...

this post actually made me ejaculate with joy at the memories, particularly Deuce and Crush. Damn you! Semen is such a persistant stain.

Johnny D said...

Oh I had completely forgot about "In the Evening". I LOVED THAT SONG! I think I still have the Jellyhead and Deuce singles too!

Such a shame - Dannii's "manager" must be researching indie labels on the net in order to release her next "fan releases"!

tommie said...

That Zombie cover is the best thing you've posted on this god-damn blog. Facty. xoxo

Jay said...

I never realised CS were behind most of my Australian late night listening! Its a shame as they seemed to be the last genuinely good record company who cared more about the artists than anything else - even if they did have to endure the Queen Of FLOPS Danniiii Minogue's bone idol arse....

Best CS release would have to be What Hurts The Most by The Goddess!

Central Station, we shall mourn you and miss you

Anonymous said...

Where did you hear that Central Station was closing? Their website seems to be in full swing and I can't find any net articles about them shutting up shop.

Aaron said...

Central Station - I'm really sad you're gone and we all really, really hope you come back!!!

Danni, Despina, Slinkee Minx, Cascada, September - How are we going to live without you!

Anonymous said...

as soon as joe and morgan left - the label went to shit - so good riddance.

Magical Froggy said...

Oh Central Station, how briefly I knew you. It was only due to the Queen of Clubs that I discovered you, and I shall forever cherish my 2CD fan release of Club Dildo. For that one release alone I shall forever hold you in my thoughts and prayers.

BTW: is this the first time that Dannii has lost a record deal without her actually being kicked out the door? :o

Moogaboo said...

"Melissa Tkautz was a hair's breath away from a life of crime at the best of times." That's lovely, I must steal it.

ADAM ft. AMY was a huge hit in Pittsburgh. That says it all, no?

Great post, all of these singles were fabulous. I'm depressed to see another good dance label go down the well.

Jamie said...

Fab post Mike. Deuce were like a gay wetdream to me as a teenage gayer in the 90's!

Oh and Adam featuring Amy was such a tragic piece of euro-pop. Amy has no idea about the context of the actual lyrics....a bit like Alexandra singing 'Hallelujah'.

tommie said...


If it makes you feel good I can dance 4 you!