The Great Record Stores: Time Traveler

I've been hitting the bins here for 19 years now

I’ve been hitting the bins here for 19 years now

Savvy eyes may have notice a couple of re-runs posted in the last week or so in the middle of the Moogfest thread. That was because I was on the road, with my destination being Akron, Ohio. Home to DEVO and my in-laws. Yes, every now and then, family enters into it, and we had decided that it was time to visit my wife’s home territory for the first time in over a decade. That meant lots of family, sightseeing in the Cleveland Botanical Gardens, and lurching from feeding to feeding while trying to maintain our normal weight. But it also meant a visit to the most excellent Time Traveler Records in nearby Cuyahoga Falls!

I discovered Time Traveler after meeting my wife and trekking up there to meet more of the future in-laws during Memorial Day of 1995. I was blown away by the store, as it had a plethora of desirable CDs that just weren’t the sort of thing that one ever saw in staid Florida, where we lived at the time. Being close to the Cleveland Metropolis, the tastes that Time Traveler catered to were more, shall we say, advanced, than in most Southeastern backwaters of the U.S. of A. After all, there was a reason why seminal artists like Bowie, Ferry, and even other “cult” acts like Alex Harvey, or Cockney rebel were actually stars in Cle. That’s because Cleveland rocks, as one wag would have it.

tt signNot only were the CDs plentiful and tilted towards the obscure side, but the store was a hotbed of the other round, spinning, optically read media that meant so much to me back in 1995; laser discs! Especially the desirable Japanese import kind, that almost never existed in my world outside of catalog orders. I’ll never forget finding Japanese laserdiscs like the Fripp/Sylvian live disc or “The Complete Picture” Deborah Harry/Blondie LD with the über rare videos from “Koo Koo” as directed by H.R. Giger [r.i.p]? Still, the ne plus ultra of hip laserdiscs had to have been the Japanese “Pulp Fiction” LD, purchased at a time when not only was the film not on home video in America, it was still in second run theaters! The groovy movie night I had with that when I got back to Orlando was one for the books!

tt lds

The first laser read media carrier that paved the way for CD and DVD… LDs hit the market in 1978!

Believe it or not, the store still has the gargantuan precursor to the DVD as we know it! But the days of Japanese imports salting the bins were long gone. To that end, the store has one of the largest selections of music videos on DVD I’ve ever seen, but closer inspection revealed that these puppies were largely “collector’s discs” probably burned to DVD-R. Missable. At the end of  the day, Time Traveler was still all about the music, maaaaan.

Three tiers of Stranglers releases… that's more like it!

Three tiers of Stranglers releases… that’s more like it!

For an example of good taste, look no further than the Stranglers section. It’s more than just hits compilations; it’s fat with releases from the band’s nearly 40 years of history – even including the post 1990 stuff I ignore! That there’s an almost as thick Strawbs section right next to it speaks volumes. This is a store that caters to esoteric tastes. I managed this day to find an insanely rare Lilac time promo only 12″ for “American Eyes” called “Welcome To Hell… Here’s Your Accordian.” This little gem was something that I had to track down on the internet for years and pay dearly for after a search of several years. This visit, I managed to find the only copy of this out in the wilds I’ve ever seen. Naturally, I got snatched up since my good friend Ron Kane also collects Stephen Duffy and sending a copy of this beauty will only begin to address the karmic balance for all of the amazing things he’s sent me over the years I’ve known him.

prefab sprout - letschangetheworldwithmusicUSCDAI managed to pick up some things for myself too! A Kid Creole + The Coconuts CD, the “new” [dozen year old] Soft Cell album, the godlike DLX RM of The Motors divisive [yet ultimately brilliant] “Tenement Steps,” as well as the amazing Prefab Sprout release from 2009. I’m still mulling over the Frank Chickens CD that I bought on principle. I saw that the rear wall of the store had been removed to increase the size of the floor to the full footprint of the foundation. In these days of dying record stores, this speaks of something going right for indie stores worth their salt. That means that the store is bigger by at least 20% in the eleven years since my last visit. Not bad at all!

You can see where there was once a stockroom wall, now gone in this view

You can see at the scalloping where there was once a stockroom wall, now gone in this view

The store is now about the perfect mix of vinyl to CDs – about 35% vinyl with 65% CDs. Yes, that felt like a good ratio to me! None of that “marginalize” the CD format here to sell 180 g rei$$ues. And the CD sections are possibly the only place where I have ever seen sections for favorite cult bands like New Musik with all three of the band’s albums there on CD, including the buyer’s choice of different pressings on some titles!

Tony Mansfield's brilliant synthpop albums await your ears at Time Traveler

Tony Mansfield’s brilliant synthpop albums await your ears at Time Traveler

I had heard gratefully spurious claims from the family that Time Traveler had bitten the dust a few years back, but when planning this last trip to Akron, I was delighted to see that rumors of its demise were greatly exaggerated.  When I was checking out, the owner clucked with approval when he saw Lilac Time and Prefab Sprout releases in my purchases. It’s the kind of store where the buying feels as good as the finding and listening. And more importantly, we need more stores where groups that are marginalized everywhere else have a fat section with title card for Midwestern aesthetes to have the thrill of purchasing platters of groups that one probably can’t even find in metropoli like NYC now that the Great Chains like Tower and Virgin Megastore are but memories. And seriously, where else can you find an album like this for sale… anywhere?

Sure, it's a boot CD-R, but… David Werner's "Whizz Kid" fergoshsakes!

Sure, it’s a boot CD-R, but… David Werner’s “Whizz Kid” fergoshsakes!

– 30 –


About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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4 Responses to The Great Record Stores: Time Traveler

  1. Tim says:

    I worked at a video store that sold and rented laser disks when that Japanese Pulp Fiction landed. We never rented our rental LD player as much as we did when we had that, especially when word of mouth hit that LD wasn’t encoded with macrovision and could be recorded to VHS.

    That Prefab Sprout you scored never really resonated with me. A bit too religious for my ears (said the dude whose bachelor’s work was in comparative religion and ethics). The most recent one isn’t too bad but I do think that the magic is gone. For me the best Sprouts stuff is when Dolby and Wendy are involved. The “I Trawl The Megahertz” disc was pretty good, I must say.


  2. Simon H says:

    I dream of record stores like this! A New Musik section…never seen the like in the UK! Coming to the US next week and visiting Chicago – hoping for a decent music store there…


    • postpunkmonk says:

      Simon H – I’ve only been to Chicago once in 1998 and JT made sure that we hit some good record stores. Who knows what the score is 16 years later. JT, can you offer Simon any pointers?


  3. Simon H says:

    Any advice welcomed! I noticed Reckless Records have three stores which could be worth checking out, other half’s patience allowing:)


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