Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Undergound Record Shop

Times Square Records was a small, literally underground record shop that was located down in the subway entrance on Broadway and 42nd in New York City in the early 1960's. It was owned and operated by a man named Irving "Slim" Rose. Slim was interested not only is cashing in on records by 1950's Doo Wop acts, but he also went as far as to purchases masters and repress his own run of records under the Times Square name.

In my record travels, my two good friends and I were lucky enough to meet a man named "Pete" who seemed to know a great deal about this legendary spot. In the summer of 2007, Pete came to us to inform us that he needed to sell some of his records to make payments on his house. We met him one Saturday at his place and he let us down into his basement. In his basement we found large work racks stocked with records of all sorts. He had mostly soul, funk, R&B, and disco, but all types of rock records were mixed in as well. We pulled out so much great stuff - tons of great independent pressings along with handfuls of killer obscure DJ 12"s also surfaced. Once we spent a few visits and a ton of cash at Pete's place, he let us in on his 45 collection.

Pete's 45s were amazing. Almost everything was Doo Wop and a ton of it was on Times Square Records. The rest were later 1970's labels such as Relic and Lost Nite (to name a few). I had never seen any of the records he was showing us and as I flipped through a few of his small 45 boxes, he would play a song by a random group on the Times Square label.

Eventually Pete broke the news that the 45s were not for sale and would not be for sale any time soon. He explained that in the 60's he would venture to this little shop in Times Square and pull a couple records off the wall. They were priced at around a buck a piece and were placed simply in one of those mat finished vintage green 45 sleeves, decorated only with a penciled group name and stapled to the wall. The store was wall-to-wall 45s and he made it clear that it was a gold mine for finding rarities as well as a one-stop for your back cataloging needs. I was so intrigued by his story of this epic record mecca that I continued trying to talk him into selling a record or two but he remained firm and I never got to leave with a single copy.

Today, a couple of friends and I checked out the Englishtown fleamarket here in New Jersey. After searching through a ton of cruddy records, we came across a table full of $1.00 45s. We all ended up with great stuff, but one of my friends grabbed a copy of (Here) In My Heart by The Timetones. He passed on the record and I gladly gave it a new home. I was (and still am) very excited for this find. It couldn't have come at a better time too: We stayed up late last night watching the first Back To The Future movie. Amazingly fitting.

The Timetones record is the first release by Times Square Records.

No comments: