I don’t really know Colin Morris, but I know enough about him to say he’s an expert in the art of music retailing. And he was always a mine of relevant information on those occasions I dared to engage him long enough in chat. For whatever reason, I always felt a little wary of Morris. I was perhaps a bit in awe back then, probably because he was that bit older, but also for the fact that he was prolific in music critiquing circles, and a regular contributor to The Dominion’s music pages – something that continues to this day. I guess it was because he was an authority in a field I was passionate about.
By the time Colin Morris Records became the most convenient central option for me, there was a mainstream shift away from vinyl and tapes, and CD’s had taken hold as the music consumer’s vehicle of choice. Me? … I had been buying vast quantities of music on cassette, mainly for the portability it offered … but the Compact Disc definitely appealed. I had a few, and I just needed to invest in some decent hardware before I could delve too heavily into that format. Curiously enough, it was my obsession with buying product that kept me too poor to do just that.
The thing about Colin Morris Records was not only its central location, but the sheer variety the shop offered. Morris is obviously a serious jazz fan, and as I recall it, his shop also stocked a wide range of classical material. I was not particularly interested in either genre, but it’s fair to say it was one of the most well rounded “small” record shops I’ve ever visited. I’m not even sure it was all that small, it certainly felt like it expanded in floor space sometime between the mid Eighties and mid Nineties, and I spent many a Friday night or midweek lunch break diligently digging through the seemingly endless rows of product on display.
My recall of the shop’s demise is hazy – it was at least a decade or so ago now, or maybe even longer if my suspicion that the shop as an ongoing music outlet was swallowed up by one of the chain brands is correct. Morris himself has continued a career in retail, and for a while ran a music mail order business called Slipped Disc. He’s clearly a passionate music man, and his thoughts on the subject can be found just about everywhere you care to look. He currently has shows on both National and Concert radio.
I’d loved to have sourced a decent photo of the shop in its prime, but sadly there don’t appear to be any online.
Such was its wide range of stock genre-wise, and its overall longevity, it would be impossible to sign off with a single clip truly representative of the shop, so here’s something local, something very Wellington, and something from an era I associate strongly with Colin Morris Records …