Defunct and Current Aussie Record Labels

Defunct and Current Aussie Record Labels

Saturday, February 27, 2016


Phantom Records began life as a record shop in Pitt Street, Sydney, opened by Dare Jennings on 17 October, 1978. Jules Normington had been managingRadio Birdman and the Ripple Records import shop in Sydney. Jules and Dare Jennings followed the Birdman tour around Europe in early 1978 and during this time they talked of starting a record shop, which Jennings did on his return. Later that year, Jules was in LA and Jennings tracked him down and asked him to buy stock for the shop. Jules hunted down sixties punk records, psychedelic records and secondhand rarities to send back to Sydney.

Jennings entreated Jules to come back and manage the shop. He returned July 9 1979 and joined Jennings as a partner. Ably assisted by Steve Stavrakis (who later started Waterfront Records), Jules turned Phantom into a mecca for record buyers. With Jules’ infectious enthusiasm for the music, Phantom flourished in the punk and postpunk years, specialising in "punk, soul, surf, psychedelic, sixties garage and nothing else".

In late 1979, Jules and Jennings had the idea for the Phantom label when they realised they were surrounded by talent who were as yet unsigned. Their girlfriends Penny Ward and Julie Mostyn were lead singers in bands: Shy Impostors were about to record and The Flaming Hands had already recorded tracks, as had their friends The Passengers. The Visitors had an album's worth of material recorded before their final gig in August 1979. Already they had four artists - none of whom stood much chance with any of the major labels - ready to be unleashed on a local market hungry for good local indy records.

The first Phantom release was The Passengers' single "Face With No Name" on April 30 1980, and the Surfside 6 single "Cool in the Tube" came out seven days later. These were followed by a succession of pivotal singles and EPs, and the label became as important as the shop in its exposure of new alternative music.

Naturally the signings reflected the character of the shop, which was primarily Jules' taste and for several years this selection criteria led to one success after another. Crucially Phantom became an inspiration for others to start labels such as Waterfront Records and Citadel Records, catering to the burgeoning local scene and attracting bands from interstate.

The momentum slowed in the mid 80’s until 1987 when Phantom was re-energised by the success of The Hummingbirds, The Sparklers and Vanilla Chainsaws. During this period Dare Jennings was concentrating more on his 100% Mambo clothing company and as he phased himself out of Phantom, Sebastian Chase appeared. He’d been a founding member of the major label "indy" offshoot rooArt Records, in the late eighties. In 1991, Chase had left rooArt after a split with partner Chris Murphy and approached Phantom. Jules knew of him as The Hummingbirds had moved from Phantom to rooArt a couple years earlier.

Phantom was divided into three companies and Jules increasingly focused on the more successful of these, Phantom Collectibles. But ultimately Chase’s goals for the Phantom company diverged from Jules’ - to the detriment of the label. The shop closed its doors in 1998. In 1999, disenchanted with what Phantom had become, Jules formed Laughing Outlaw Records with writer Stuart Coupe. Phantom is now run solely by Sebastian Chase, who keeps it active with sporadic releases.

The Passengers

Surfside 6

The Visitors

Flaming Hands


Shy Imposters

The Dagoes


Hoodoo Gurus

The Cockroaches

The Kelpies

Sardine V

The Rockmelons

The Celibate Rifles


The Reasons Why

The Deadly Hume

The Hummingbirds

Vanilla Chainsaws

Shrinking Violets

The Mark of Cain

Whole World

One Million Pieces

The Godbotherers

Even As We Speak

Fear of Falling


Peter Koppes

Def FX

Strange Alchemy

The Lighthouse Keepers

Purple Avengers

The Gadflys

The Whitlams



Parkside Killers


Me Me Me


Eva Trout



The Early Hours

Jeff Duff

The Honeys


The City Lights

Ian Rilen and The Love Addicts

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