The one constant to any trips to Akron in the last 28 years have been that a visit to Time Traveler is a must! Scott Shepard has been in business from 1980 and he’s had a solid run through thick and thin. The joy of visiting is that there’s never been a time where I’ve walked away empty handed. And the goods each time can be very different. The CDs are always great, but sometimes the 12″ or 7″ discs can really turn my head.
I was meeting with our friend Dean for lunch at Luigi’s Resuatrant and afterward, a visit to nearby Time Traveler was a must! It was a typical overcast day as we entered the store around 2 PM on a Monday afternoon. The proprietor, Scott Shepard was there having an amiable discussion with a couple of his customers and this is the kind of store where a non-regular [albeit of 28 years] like myself can walk in the entrance and immediately jump into the conversation! In other words, it’s more than a Record Store. It’s like home.
Shepard had to move from the huge State Road location, in Cuyahoga Falls, in 2015 after creeping gentrification saw new commercial development price him out of his formerly expansive store. The two room’s he’s in now, adjacent to a bedding store, is cramped in comparison. But packed with goods stacked everywhere. A glance behind the counter space revealed a dense collage of music ephemera with certain obsessions [Kate Bush, Todd Rundgren, Bowie, Stones, Beatles] standing out more than others. Dean sat down and joined in the conversation [he was a regular who Scott knew by name] while I scoped out the 7″ singles.
I’d gotten some doozies here as there are few 7″ bins anywhere that sport heavy presence of bands like The Skids or New Musik. I’d last been here in 2019, and that day I was not seeing much churn from the last time. I’ll admit that import 7″ singles probably aren’t flowing copiously into his stock these days.
So I next started looking at the used CDs which were stacked in dozens of 30-disc shipping boxes all over the place. I flipped through every box but was not seeing anything of interest, even though there were at least as many CDs as I own in the used stock! In a time when CDs are deemed hipster kryptonite and banished to who-knows-where, their mere presence here was a godsend. As I kept looking, I was rewarded with one used CD that I was going to buy for my wife. On the trip up in the car, I pulled the CD we have of Dire Straits “Making Movies” and while listening, my wife was so smitten with it [and Knopfler’s tone], that we contemplated stopping in West Virginia to try to find another Dire Straits CD we didn’t already have to listen to right then and there. So the Mark Knopfler solo album was the appropriate thing to buy here.
I next took in the 12″ records and the LPs were light on 12″ singles this time, and there aren’t many used LPs on my want list, so I blew through that stock quickly with no gems this time. The new LPs were heavily salted with RSD gems that were actually of interest to me but I never see them in stores…ever! Things like the CD single remix of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s “Rage Hard” on 12″ that came out in 2016 on RSD. There were titles like the recent “Invisible Man” EP by Gerry Casale of DEVO that I would have preferred on CD, but just seeing them was nice. While it’s been some years since I really pulled new CD stock, that was definitely where the big wins were in the store today! I’m so used to stores not having CDs any more, that a store packed with new CDs that I’d love to buy felt almost foreign to me.
BOUNTIFUL NEW CDS
A glance at the high-ticket boxes in the glass counter revealed a couple of Be-Bop Deluxe ultraboxes that I would never say “no” to! While the 90s DLX RMs of their canon was mostly sufficient for my seeds, I’d make an exception for the “Drastic Plastic” boxed set with 4xCDs and 2xDVDs of goodness, including a Stephen W. Tayler 2.0/5.1 mix! It was comfortably priced at $79.99, but that was a big chunk of change for me on a trip; unplanned. If I got this, that would be it.
When I saw the “Berlin” section I thought I’d look and see if any of the fabbo Rubellan Remasters were still in the bins…and there were! I was stunned to see the DLX RM of “Love Life” from just three years ago there still for sale at $14.99 as if it were not an out-of-print three figure disc in the aftermarket! If you didn’t get your copy in time, Scott will ship! Just saying. As I continued in the “B” section I stopped at the Blue Nile section and was stunned to see the 2xCD DLX RM of “A Walk Across The Rooftops” still there, priced at a modest $17.99. The second disc hooked me but good! I had to have this.
I had sat out the Blue Nile DLX RM program that had begun over a decade ago, since money was tight, and I never saw these in store…until now. And after buying this I entered it into my Discogs collection and I saw that this 2018 Confetti Records reissue of the 2012 set was at the mid-two figures in the aftermarket. You can tell that Time Traveler is not a hipster record store because is it most definitely not a clip joint!
Then I struck paydirt with a 1996 Vertigo Euro CD of the debut by Dire Straits; an album we surprisingly didn’t have on the racks. Then I chanced upon the “E” section and saw a DLX RM of Echo + The Bunnymen’s “Ocean Rain;” an album I have actually wanted for 39 years but have never owned in any way, shape, or form! Lame? Yes! [raises hand] But at least I didn’t let it become 40 years! I was aware of the 2008 2xCD edition and had it on my want list for quite a few years, but this was a single disc with different bonus materials. I was not aware of it, but was here today and it was coming home with me.
I looked in the Korgis section. Yes, this was the sort of store that had a Korgis section! That’s how they roll at Time Traveler! I was astonished to be reminded that The Korgis has reformed and recorded their fifth album, “Kartoon World” in 2021! If they had the 2xCD “Complete Rialto Recordings” set I would have jumped on it as I only have the “Dumb Waiters” and “Sticky George” LPs on the racks. Not today for “Kartoon World,” but now I reliably know where to buy it!
Elsewhere in the “K” section was exactly the compilation I was looking for by The Kinks! Last month, my wife wanted to re-watch Richard Curtis’ “Pirate Radio” [a.k.a. “The Boat That Rocked”] and in wathcing the simply smashing opening montage scored with TheKkinks “All Day And All Of the Night,” we asked ourselves why on earth did we not have any Kinks albums in the Record Cell??! After all, in the pantheon of the British Invasion bands, I felt that Ray Davies’ pen was the most skillful; with Pete Townsend, and Jagger/Richards in descending order following him. I discussed privately with Echorich, Chasinvictoria and Mr. Ware this vexing issue as I attempted to find a compilation that hit all of the required marks.
It was only after discovering that I did indeed have a previous Kinks CD [that my wife picked up at a visit to a 2nd + Charles in 2015] that had the absolutely required “Destroyer” from the band’s Arista era, that the 2002 UK 2xCD with everything else I would need as a starting point by The Kinks, was a thing. And days later, here it was. Easily in my grasp! Huzzah!
The Robert Fripp section had the new [old] Frippertronic album that was on my want list but after careful deliberation, it got the cut as I didn’t want to spend in advance of $100 on this visit and it was a $24.99 item. Believe me, I deliberated long and hard over this decision. This was also the rare US store where Fripp’s better half, Toyah Willcox, actually had her own section in the bins! Cherry Red has been recently wearing out the CD plants of Europe by pressing ultraboxes of her canon, but those were not in evidence. Only her latest 2021 opus, “Posh Pop” was there…and in the autographed version. But quite frankly, her image [and the title] on this album left much to be desired. In 2021, it seemed very tone-deaf of her. It was not calling to me, in spite of its rarity. The last time I came across the new Toyah CD in a store was nearly 20 years earlier when I saw the “Velvet Lined Shell” EP and bought it.
I was surprised to see the scarce in stores 3xCD + DVD version of “Purple Rain’ from 2017! When it was released, the remastered single and 2xCD versions were plentiful in evidence in every store I went to looking for the full version with the all important single mixes/B-sides disc! After a year back then, I finally found one in L.A. on my 2018 trip there. This was only the second time I’d come across one.
I moved to the Sparks section and saw lots of CDs I would want to buy. Holy Toledo! They had an “unlimited Edition” of the “Annette” OST in a 2xCD, 65 track version with demos and everything that I’m pinching myself now for not buying, but when I saw the Sparks CD that I did buy, that was it. I’d been grousing since 2009 that their Swedish radio play album “The Seduction Of Ingmar Bergman” was well-nigh impossible to get on CD…in English. In 2009 your choices were: the three figure boxed set with four LPs of the English and Swedish-language versions of the play and the sacred English CD. At the time, I could easily run across the English language LP of the title, but I wanted it on CD! And the single CD version was only released in Sweden.
Two years later, the band released a special English only CD version for the 2011 L.A. Film Festival, where they performed the play live. Within weeks, this disc, which had the performance I wanted, was selling for a large three figures! It remained until the Sparks 21st century reissue program of last year until one could buy the album…in English… on the silver disc for less than three weeks worth of groceries! So, betchabygollywow, I was buying this CD if I walked out of there with nothing else! At the end of the shopping I put my picks down, with the full knowledge that I could have dropped $300 on CDs there that day [if I dared]. Rare are the times when I can even find $12 worth of CDs in a modern hateful record store.
After thoroughly shopping, I sat down and re-joined the conversation between Scott, Dean, and his customers that were also spending the afternoon there. This was something that I used to like to do when I lived in Orlando with many a Saturday afternoon spent matching quips with Ray Ehmen at Rock + Roll Heaven, but non existent in my life in the last 22 years. It was a warm room of music geek fellowship with the bait that pulled me in being the mix CDs that Scott was playing. I was excited to hear New Musik’s “On Islands” being played and jumped at the chance to talk Tony Mansfield with Scott and the others.
Shepard revealed that the mix discs he’d been playing in-store were compiled by his two daughters. He told me that every day, without fail, he emailed his daughters a song of the day, and they took their favorites and compiled the discs he played in the store. How cool was that, but it got better, since his daughter Emma had now opened her own second-generation record store in Cleveland, Shepard Records!
We stayed there talking until Dean had to leave for a doctor’s appointment around 4 PM and we kept the conversation going until around 5:30 my wife Messaged me saying that she was done making her sister a quiche and was ready to pick me up. I got ready to check out, and I had apparently mislaid the Mark Knopfler CD, so I started searching the used bins where I had laid my pulls on top of. This turned out to be a good thing because I saw the holy “Rush” debut album CD with “Working Man” that I had earlier missed.This was the only Rush my wife ever pined for in our home that has a full run of Rush albums from 1980-1993… but not this one. Now rectified. I then found the Knopfler CD so I checked out with the resolve to spend another long afternoon in this most welcoming record store the next time I venture inside.
- Mark Knopfler: Sailing to Philadelphia – Warner Bros. Records – 9 47753-2 – US – CD – Time traveler/$4.99
- Dire Straits: Dire Straits – Vertigo – 800 051-2 – EURO – CD – Time Traveler/$12.99
- Rush: Rush – Mercury – P2 22541 – US – CD – Time Traveler/$4.99
- The Blue Nile: A Walk Across The Rooftops DLX RM – Confetti Records (2) – BLUECD1 – UK – 2xCD – Time Traveler/$17.99
- Echo + The Bunnymen: Ocean Rain DLX RM [25th] – Warner Strategic Marketing – 2564-61165-2 – EURO – CD – Time Traveler/$13.99
- Kinks: The Ultimate Collection – Sanctuary – SANDD 109 – UK – 2xCD – Time Traveler/$17.99
- Sparks: The Seduction Of Ingmar Bergman – BMG – BMGCAT572CD – World – CD – Time Traveler/$15.99
Oh, that wonderful amazing store! How I enjoyed shopping there a million years ago! I’m so happy to hear that a) it is still in business, b) it is still awesome, and c) they continue to foster the all-important music fellowship that is the fuel for so many of the best relationships one can have!
And they ship, you say? Hmmm …
Sounds like such a great shop.
Am shocked at your Kinks revelation though:)
SimonH – As was I!