Records Records

November 8, 2010

After starting Flying Nun Records in 1981 I started working with a number of Dunedin based bands so I was spending many weekends in that town catching live shows by the likes of The Clean, The Chills, The Verlaines, The Stones, Sneaky Feelings and many many more but the highlight was always a visit to Roy’s (“Roi” to his friends) Records Records at the bottom of Upper Stuart Street.

The name Records Records was mysteriously repetitious like a Velvet Underground song, or was it a play on the second hand nature of a repeatedly played and traded medium for music which seemed very post modern in those merely modern times. Personally I think Roy shared the Southern trait of not being able to name things properly and resorted to Records Records in a final act of desperation. Surely there must be a name for that condition.

Usually exhausted from the effort of trying to drive a primitive pre modern Morris 1100 the four hours plus from Christchurch to Dunedin in order to enjoy Dunedin’s famous hospitality and music for the weekend the first port of call was usually Records Records. Roy was always there and despite, or because of, the Cousin It hairstyle, beard and glasses was always very cool. Roy was so cool that I always seemed to have to do all the talking. Eventually I twigged to the fact that the man was near blind and no idea which nutter I was until I was actually reaching across the counter and helped him count the loose change in the till.


Original Records Records shop on Stuart Street

Like all quality record shops the world over Records Records was a magnet for nut bars and fruit loops. Roy had good stories to tell about these people and was not above documenting conversations that were sometimes very heavy. You only had to stand in Records Records for a couple of minutes on a Friday evening before a Dunedin musician of note would burst in, shout “Hi Roy”, flick through the bins and tell you where the weekends parties were. Records Records was the communications nerve centre of Dunedin’s all important interconnectivity right through the 1980s. If the Dunedin Sound ever existed it was because of Records Records. In fact Roy distributed Flying Nun releases in Dunedin in the early years and today Records Records would be referred to as a hub.

It wasn’t just a social nerve centre that Roy was maintaining. It was also a musical finishing school. Like all good record retailers he knew your musical weaknesses and exploited them ruthlessly in an attempt to give you a more rounded musical appreciation and get the money out of your pockets before you wasted it all hours later at the Robbie Burns. Visits to his shop broadened my musical horizons considerably and many of my all time favorites were purchased from Records Records during this time. For me Gene Clarke’s ‘No Other’ is still one of the saddest and most beautiful albums I have ever heard and Denis Wilson’s ‘Pacific Blue’ rounds out the Beach Boys story in unimaginable ways. I am confident that most of Dunedin’s musicians and music fans shared those same experiences.

Roy retired from record retail five or so years ago and the shop moved location, and it wasn’t really the same anymore but it is very sad to see it shut after forty years and see a link to a golden time disappear.

Look Blue Go Purple – ‘Circumspect Penelope’.
Spot Roy at the ball.