[no image available]

Category: Australian-owned independent distribution and recording company

Date: 1967 - 1976

Location: Melbourne, Vic.

Owner: Keith Colias / John MacDonald (1967-1976)

Subsidiary labels: Tempo, Image (to 1974)

LEFT: "Curly" by Jimmy Hannan (FB-001) the first single issued by the Fable label in April 1970.


Tempo Records was a shortlived house label established by Tempo Record Sales (TRS), an important Melbourne company which distributed many local and overseas labels in the late 1960s and early '70s, as well as creating its own labels, Tempo and Image. TRS was established in September 1967 by businessmen John MacDonald and Keith Colias. MacDonald was the "mac" in the Sparmac label, which he founded with Melbourne DJ Ken Sparkes, but the company was acquired soon after its establishment by musician-producer Robie Porter.

The company was originally set up to distribute overseas labels; one of the major deals they secured was for the Atlantic label, which up to that time had been getting only sporadic distribution in Australia through its former licencee, Festival. Sam & Dave's "Hold On, I'm Coming", for example, was one of several classic soul singles which were never locally released in Australia, even though Atlantic was having a huge international impact with hits by Aretha Franklin, Joe Tex, Otis Redding and Sam & Dave.

Tempo Record Sales (TRS) operated successfully as a distributor for two years, then in October 1969 the company launched the Tempo label. Its debut release was "The Hunter" by San Francisco band Pacific Gas & Electric, a recording leased from the American Orange label. Tempo released a total of nine singles over two years, including recordings by Gene Vincent, Trevor, Judy Banks, The Gathering and one single by Melbourne band Abacus, which was its only known local recording.

Label historian Hank Facer records that TRS played a crucial role as a local distributor during the 1970 Radio Ban, distributing product for several independent labels who were unable to get distribution elsewhere, notably Sparmac and Fable.The Tempo label had to be closed in 1971 because the name had already been registered in NSW by Maurice Chapman & Co., the Australian agent for Akai and BASF. After the Tempo label folded, TRS released three singles from Leon Russel's Shelter label -- Russell's version of Dylan's "A Hard Rain's A-gonna Fall" in late 1971, and J.J. Cale's breakthrough single "Crazy Mama" and Leon Russell's "Roll Away The Stone" in mid-1972, all of which were Top 40 hits in Sydney.

In May 1972 TRS founded a new label, Image, which proved very successful; it released singles and albums by noted Australian acts including Sundown, The Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band, Linda George, Broderick Smith and Kevin Borich, as well as a number of international acts. John MacDonald purchased Image in 1974, but TRS eventually went out of business in mid-1976. Image continues as a successful music company to the present, and took over Ron Tudor's Fable Records in 1986.


Note: titles highlighted in colour are overseas recordings released under licence.


Cat. # Date Artist Title
(Orange, USA)
Oct. 1969 Pacific Gas & Electric "The Hunter"
"Cry, cry, cry"
TS-109 1971 Abacus "Viva Viva, Up The Revolution"
"Holly Go Softly"

References / Links

Hank B. Facer
"The Tempo-Image Story"
Logo, Vol.2, No. 2, Feb. 1980

The Tempo and Image labels - Discography No. 11
(Musuem of Indigegnous Recording Labels, Sydney, 1979)