Vikki Beat

In December 82, recording commenced (at Munradio) of the first Bubonic Plague tape. This was recorded over the next couple of months with varied lineups from track to track. This recording proved to be the catalyst for a new and ambitious project. At a meeting of minds at 25 Victoria Street, in the spring of 1983 it was decided to launch a private tape label. Many in the current St. John's, scene point to the VIKKI BEAT tape label and it's products as a great influence on their own DIY endeavours. The idea was probably proposed by Terry Carter. The name - VIKKI BEAT, was coined a little later by a member of a band Wallace happened to be doing sound for. (Wallace has forgotten his name but the guy was later "the Blank" of Phil n' the Blank - a local duo.

The tape label was begun, not just to deal with the release of the Bubonic Plague Tape but also to release some of the other recordings made by people associated over the previous several years. A number of tapes were quickly released: "Wild Wild Youth in Asia" - The Bubonic Plague, "The Quick and the Dead" -The A-tones, "The Reaction", and "Warning: Disposable Musak" -Wallace's Synth noodlings . These were followed shortly be "Big Tears" (a band consisting of Terry Carter, Mark Oakley and Jon Heald), and "Issues in the Loo"- skits from the Munradio series in the mid-seventies.

Why a tape label when vinyl had already been done by those who were members of Da Slyme and The Reaction? Cost was the main factor. Money was even scarcer than 3 years previously. Also there was a sense that it would be difficult to sell the material in a quantity large enough to justify the costs - the minimum run would have to be 500 copies. It was well remembered that Da Slyme had to play to re-coup it's costs and that at this time albums remained unsold. It was resolved that smaller was beautiful, and that using a couple of cassette decks and a reel to reel, tapes could be dubbed in a realistic quantity with very little start up costs and made as were needed. As with Da Slyme, booklets could be xeroxed and the covers… well, this is where the inspiration arose. It was realized at one point, that a standard photograph could be folded to fit perfectly in a cassette case. Covers were laid out and were shot professionally at a place called Northlite Photography and then printed. After a cover or two they realized what was being attempted and 'got it right'.

This DIY thing with cassettes had been done in St. John's prior to even Da Slyme's existence by Peter Narvaez, a blues guitarist and folklore professor at MUN who had come from the US in the early 70's. His tape, on his SMALL WONDER CASSETTE LABEL was called "YER BLUES AIN'T LIKE MINE", and incorporated all the aspects of packaging and production used by Vikki Beat except the gloss photo cover which was a Vikki Beat innovation.

Most of these recordings were marketed only within the circle of friends and fans of the bands involved, though a few were sold through Fred's Records. The best seller was The First Bubonic Plague tape which had sales of 60 tapes.

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