Vi-Nil Records is an independent record label formed in the early 80s in Sydney Australia.
The facts as they are roughly remembered. No responsibility taken for wrong chronological order…it WAS the 80s after all!
In 1984, music journalist and guitarist Mark Fraser (Suspect Device, The 22s, Stone Age T-bones, Velveteens, Good Guys Wear Black) released the debut single for inner western Sydney band The Conspirators…She’s Gone /Twilight Zone. The single was released on Mark’s own label Suspect Records. With the band’s strong live presence, the single sold quickly in Sydney indie record stores.
Around about the same time, drummer John Heath (The Klerks) was in the studio with the Klerks recording with Phil Calvitto. John was also brother in law to Lipstick Killers Drummer David Taylor.
Having played regular gigs at the infamous Sussex Hotel, John and Mark met and realised they shared similar musical tastes and goals. John approached Mark to discuss merging Suspect records with the label John was about to launch. Vi-Nil records was born.
John had access to the Lipstick Killers tapes (recorded in 1978)containing Sockman /Pensioner Pie and the first Vi-Nil release (LK001)featuring the two tracks in an impressive black and silver cover went straight to number one on the independent charts in 1984.
The subsequent release was the 1983 Klerks I Need a Pardon/Love and Pain single (K001)Earlier recordings of The Klerk’s live sessions with Calvitto resulted in the 1985 release of The Groove Tapes 7 inch EP.(VR010) The EP contained Love and Pain, The Rider, Fun in the Sun and I Don’t Wanna go to America (a track that was later reworked by The 22s and released on their 1985 cassette album Cowboys of Soul)(VT 1)
The quirky Gulf Klub single What’s Cooking/India ( VR 003) was released in 1984, followed by the Psychotic Turnbuckles (featuring ex Conspirators members) debut single The Creeps/Energy in 1985 (VR004). The single shot straight to the top of the indie charts.
The eclectic and well polished Stig Can’t Clap’s Other Side of Midnight (VR005)(produced by INXS’s Garry Garry Beers) featuring Sandi Chick on backing vocals also came out in 1985.
The Hard Ons -Surfin on my Face EP debut was released in the same year and contained killer pop punksters-- Bye Bye Girl, Excuses, There Was a time, Surfin on my face (VR 006) It hit Number 1 on charts and was Vi-Nil’s best seller at the time, going into a second pressing. The Hard Ons still play to this day and copies of this original EP go for ridiculous amounts.
Howling Commandos –Walk on By /Pick Me up 7inch (VR008) came out late 85. It was planned as a 12 inch but remained a 7 inch due to costs.
The second and long anticipated single from Psychotic Turnbuckles –Psychotic Reaction /Crusher 1985 (VR 009) received great attention and paved another stepping stone for what was to be a long frantic career for the Turnbuckles.
The 22s released their Cowboys of Soul cassette album after gathering a tight following around the traps (VT1) 1985.Shortly after, Mark Fraser departed for a long stint overseas and left the label in the hands of John Heath.
Pop wizards The Labradogs released the - Get Lonely EP 1986 (produced by Sunnyboy Peter Oxley) (VR 011) containing cracker title track and the wicked Growin Sane.
Conspirators –Expressway to your brain was released in 1987 (VR 007)-Tracks- Twenty five years, Nobody’s fool, Feel Good and cover of Outside Ins Bring Me Down.
The second Labradogs offering Suddenly last summer /Trust Me single was released in 1987 (VR012) (produced by Jeremy Oxley)
Mark Fraser returned to Australia in 1987 to find that most of the bands he had signed had moved onto other labels. He now runs indie music website redbackrock.com and is working on a Vi-Nil compilation album.