Welcome to my web site! Here you will find information related to early pressings on compact disc. Included is an up-to-date list of my collection of these and other collectable CDs, along with pictures of some of my rare discs. I hope you find this site to be a useful resource!

Happy Holidays! We’ve featured many classic yuletide albums here at keithhirsch.com over the years. For the 2017 holiday season, we will take a look at something a bit different. It is a 1986 album performed by Art Garfunkel and Amy Grant entitled The Animals’ Christmas by Jimmy Webb. The album has an extensive list of performers. Joining Garfunkel and Grant are Jimmy Webb on piano, The London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Carl Davis, and the Kings College School Choir directed by Michael Jenkins, among others.

The Animals’ Christmas is not a compilation of classic Christmas songs and carols. Rather it is an assortment of original compositions by Jimmy Webb, along with other songs adapted by Webb. Importantly, The Animals’ Christmas is able to bring together pop artists, an orchestra, and a choir into a balanced mix that just works.

Columbia Records released The Animals’ Christmas in October of 1986. The album was released on CD in the U.S. under Columbia catalog number CK 40212. A unique feature of this release is that lyrics for the 12 songs are provided in four languages — English, Spanish, French, and German. By 1986, the Japanese CBS/Sony plant was no longer supplying CDs for the U.S. market, but there is a Japan-for-U.S. pressing of The Animals’ Christmas. This particular disc was pressed by JVC. As has been discussed here in the past, the Japanese JVC and Denon plants pressed a number of CBS Records titles for the U.S. in the mid-’80s to meet growing demand. Such Japan-for-U.S. pressings are typically rare.

The Japanese pressing of The Animals’ Christmas bears the typical plain label design of U.S. CBS CDs — just black text with no paint coating and two black rings along the perimeter. The disc has “MADE IN JAPAN” printed along the perimeter. The project ID number “DIDP 70178” is printed beneath the catalog number at 3 o’clock. The matrix code is “CK-40212 A2E13”.

It is unlikely that any selection from this album will be heard on a Christmas radio marathon, so pick up a copy of the album and enjoy something different this holiday season.

Shown below are the cover and back insert for The Animals’ Christmas, along with the Japan-for-U.S. pressing.

Have a great holiday and be safe!

 

The cover artwork for Art Garfunkel and Amy Grant The Animals’ Christmas by Jimmy Webb (Columbia, catalog number CK 40212). This is the standard cover for this album.

 

The back insert for Art Garfunkel and Amy Grant The Animals’ Christmas by Jimmy Webb (Columbia, catalog number CK 40212). The extensive list of performers is provided below the track list.

 

The Japan-for-U.S. pressing of Art Garfunkel and Amy Grant The Animals’ Christmas by Jimmy Webb (Columbia, catalog number CK 40212). The disc was pressed by JVC. Although difficult to see in this picture, “MADE IN JAPAN” is printed along the perimeter. The matrix code is “CK-40212 A2E13”.

Born in a New Orleans family of musicians, Wynton Marsalis quickly demonstrated his genius as a trumpet player. With his roots in The Big Easy, it might come as no surprise that Marsalis showed great talent as a jazz trumpeter. However, what made the young Marsalis particularly intriguing was his equal ability as a classical player. In 1981, at just 19 years old, Marsalis released his first jazz recording, Wynton Marsalis on Columbia Records. Two years later, Wynton Marsalis released both his second jazz album, Think of One, and his debut classical recording, Trumpet Concertos. Remarkably, Wynton Marsalis, at just age 21, won Grammys in 1983 for these two albums, making him the first and still only musician to win Grammys in both classical music and jazz in the same year.

With Trumpet Concertos, Marsalis demonstrated his virtuoso on the legendary works of Franz Joseph Haydn, Leopold Mozart, and Johann Nepomuk Hummel. As a trumpet player myself, I have experienced firsthand how challenging these pieces are, yet Marsalis plays them with ease. Again, he was just 21 when this album was recorded. With this post, we take a look at an early CD pressing of this landmark classical recording.

On Trumpet Concertos, Marsalis played with the National Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Raymond Leppard. Trumpet Concertos was released on CD in the U.S., Japan, and Europe as three distinct releases by CBS Records in 1983. The U.S. version was issued on the CBS Masterworks label under catalog number MK 37846. As a 1983 release, the first CDs appearing in the U.S. were pressed in Japan by CBS/Sony. (On a side note, there also is a later Japanese JVC pressing of Trumpet Concertos that was released in the U.S. under catalog number MK 37846.)

The Japanese CBS/Sony pressing considered here has the text “MANUFACTURED BY CBS/SONY RECORDS INC.” stamped on the clear plastic ring at the center. The matrix code is “38DC-70 11A2”. 38DC 70 is the catalog number of the original Japanese CD issue of this album. The Japan-for-U.S. disc also has “DIDC 50070” printed beneath the catalog number at 3 o’clock. This DIDC project number is derived from the Japanese catalog number (i.e., DIDC 50070, 38DC 70). The disc also has “MANUFACTURED IN JAPAN” printed along perimeter.

In typical fashion for early U.S. CBS CD releases, the inserts for Trumpet Concertos state “Record manufactured in Japan by CBS/Sony, Tokyo, Japan”. The copy featured here came in an early jewel case with smooth top and bottom edges and with “Patent pending” embossed on the back.

Shown below are the booklet and back insert for Trumpet Concertos, along with the Japanese CBS/Sony pressing.

 

The cover for the original U.S. issue of Wynton Marsalis Trumpet Concertos (CBS Masterworks, catalog number MK 37846). This is the standard cover artwork for this album.

 

The back insert for the original U.S. issue of Wynton Marsalis Trumpet Concertos (CBS Masterworks, catalog number MK 37846). Note the statement “Record manufactured in Japan by CBS/Sony, Tokyo, Japan” printed along the bottom.

 

The Japan-for-U.S. pressing of Wynton Marsalis Trumpet Concertos (CBS Masterworks, catalog number MK 37846). The disc was pressed by CBS/Sony, as evidenced by “MANUFACTURED BY CBS/SONY RECORDS INC.” stamped on the clear plastic ring at the center. The matrix code is “38DC-70 11A2”. Note that “MANUFACTURED IN JAPAN” is printed along the perimeter of the disc.

When considering the extensive portfolio of albums by legendary jazz pianist McCoy Tyner, the efforts that are normally heralded are his classics from the 1960’s, such as the inaugural Inception (1962), Nights of Ballads & Blues (1963), and The Real McCoy (1967). While we could, and should, address such trademark Tyner albums here on keithhirsch.com, today we consider a later recording less well known. It is 1976’s Fly With The Wind, released on the Milestone label.

For Fly With The Wind, Tyner is joined by jazz greats Ron Carter (acoustic bass), Billy Cobham (drums), and Hubert Laws (alto flute and flute). The five-track album is differentiated within the Tyner catalog by its orchestral flair. In addition to Laws’ alto flute and flute, instruments appearing on Fly With The Wind are piccolo, flute, oboe, harp, violins, violas, and cellos. Though Fly With The Wind is quite a departure for Tyner, the album works in large part to the brilliance of famed producer Orrin Keepnews.

For many years, Fly With The Wind was obscure on CD. There is a mid-’80s U.S. release that is very rare and will be posted here in the future. In Japan, Fly With The Wind was not released on CD until 1989. We consider this first Japanese issue here, which also is especially rare. This disc was released by Milestone in conjunction with Victor Musical Industries in ’89 under catalog number VDJ-28063.

Fly With The Wind was pressed in Japan by JVC and bears the typical late-’80s JVC “thick” matrix code font. This is to be contrasted with the original thin and crude matrix code font found on many JVC pressings. The matrix code for Fly With The Wind is “VDJ-28063-1-A1F:1”. The “:1” at the end of the matrix code is stamped in thinner, crude characters. Also present in the mirror band is a series of odd symbols that many collectors refer to as “Tetris blocks”.

As noted, the early CD issues of Fly With The Wind are very rare. Just another challenge for the collectors in the audience. For those who simply want to enjoy the music, there are the common Original Jazz Classics and Keepnews Collection CD reissues.

Shown below are the cover and back insert for the original Japanese issue of Fly With The Wind, along with the CD.

 

The cover for the original Japanese issue of McCoy Tyner Fly With The Wind (Milestone, catalog number VDJ-28063). This is the standard cover artwork for this album.

 

The back insert for the original Japanese issue of McCoy Tyner Fly With The Wind (Milestone, catalog number VDJ-28063). Note that it is dated 1989 in the bottom right corner. There is no barcode.

 

The original Japanese issue of McCoy Tyner Fly With The Wind (Milestone, catalog number VDJ-28063). The disc was pressed by JVC and bears the matrix code font typical of late-’80s JVC pressings. The matrix code is “VDJ-28063-1-A1F:1”. Although difficult to see here, the additional symbols in the mirror band are commonly referred to as “Tetris blocks” by collectors.

Back in 2012, we discussed the rarity of a Canadian CD release of ABBA’s Super Trouper album on Atlantic Records. That post can be found here. As noted, the Super Trouper inserts were printed in Canada, but the disc was pressed in the U.S. The disc is still unique as a Canadian release since it bears Atlantic’s Canadian catalog number and reference to WEA Music of Canada Ltd. We noted in 2012 that the standard U.S. Atlantic issue of Super Trouper is rare and that the featured Canadian issue is considerably rarer. Here we consider another very rare Canadian Atlantic ABBA CD.

Today’s featured title is the ABBA compilation Greatest Hits Vol. 2. This is a 14-track offering including staples such as “Take a Chance on Me”, “Money, Money, Money”, and “Dancing Queen”. Atlantic released Greatest Hits Vol. 2 on CD in the U.S. under catalog number 16009-2. In Canada, it was released under the catalog number variant CD 16009. For this Canadian release, the disc was pressed in Canada and the inserts were printed in Canada.

The Canadian pressing of Greatest Hits Vol. 2 shares the same label design as the more common U.S. counterpart — red and black rings around the perimeter, a red Atlantic logo, black text, and no paint coating. The disc was pressed by Cinram and has “MFG BY CINRAM” stamped in the mirror band. The text “MADE IN CANADA BY CINRAM LTD.” is also printed along the perimeter of the CD at 6 o’clock. The catalog number is stamped in the mirror band as “CD-16009”, and the matrix code is “#880613AA”. The matrix code suggests that the disc was pressed in 1988.

The Greatest Hits Vol. 2 disc has the following text printed beneath the CD format logo at 3 o’clock: “MANUFACTURED BY WEA MUSIC OF CANADA LTD. A WARNER COMMUNICATIONS COMPANY”. As with Super Trouper, the Canadian issue of Greatest Hits Vol. 2 is much rarer than the U.S. release. Shown below are the inserts and CD for the Canadian Atlantic issue of Greatest Hits Vol. 2.

 

The cover for the Canadian issue of ABBA Greatest Hits Vol. 2 (Atlantic, catalog number CD 16009). This is the standard cover artwork for this compilation.

 

The back insert for the Canadian issue of ABBA Greatest Hits Vol. 2 (Atlantic, catalog number CD 16009). Note the Canadian copyright paragraph at the bottom as well as the Canadian catalog number next to the Atlantic logo.

 

A spine label for the Canadian issue of ABBA Greatest Hits Vol. 2 (Atlantic, catalog number CD 16009). It is identical to the spine label for the U.S. issue except for the catalog number. The U.S. catalog number for Greatest Hits Vol. 2 is 16009-2.

 

The Canadian issue of ABBA Greatest Hits Vol. 2 (Atlantic, catalog number CD 16009). Note the backwards ‘B’ in ABBA at 12 o’clock, a detail of the band’s official logo. The disc was pressed by Cinram as noted by “MFG BY CINRAM” stamped in the mirror band and “MADE IN CANADA BY CINRAM LTD.” printed along the perimeter. Note the text at 3 o’clock referencing WEA Music of Canada Ltd. The matrix code is “#880613AA”. This matrix code suggests the disc was pressed in 1988.

Laura Branigan makes the short list of great ’80s pop divas. She hit the scene with 1982’s Branigan and gained further momentum with follow-up albums Branigan 2 and Self Control over the next two years. Unfortunately, Branigan’s trajectory changed with her fourth album, 1985’s Hold Me. The album has its moments with the title track and “Spanish Eddie”, a remake of sorts of her earlier smash “Gloria”. Overall, though, Hold Me failed to achieve the chart success of Branigan’s first three albums. That would explain why Hold Me is obscure on CD compared to the earlier albums.

Hold Me saw two CD releases in the mid-’80s, one in Japan and one for the U.S. market. In the U.S., Hold Me was released on the Atlantic label under catalog number 7 81265-2. The album appeared in the States as West German PolyGram, Japanese JVC, and U.S. Non-Target pressings. Despite these three pressings, Hold Me quickly went out of print making these discs very popular with collectors. Here we focus on the West German pressing.

As a PolyGram pressing, there is no clear plastic ring at the center of the Hold Me CD. The disc bears the typical Atlantic Non-Target label design of the period — red and black rings around the perimeter, a red Atlantic logo at 9 o’clock, black text, and no paint coating. The text “MADE IN WEST GERMANY BY POLYGRAM” is printed along the perimeter. The matrix code around the aluminum hub is “7567 81265-2 2895 679 01 #”. The accompanying inserts were printed in West Germany.

Over the years, some obscure ’80s albums have been reissued on CD to the delight of fans and collectors alike. In some cases, this has caused the value of the rare original CD to drop sharply. Given the state of the physical media today, this seems unlikely for Hold Me. Thus, expect Hold Me to remain a rare find on CD and for the West German pressing to command a premium.

Shown below is the cover and back insert for the U.S. issue of Hold Me, along with the West German pressing.

 

The cover for the West German pressing of Laura Branigan Hold Me (Atlantic, catalog number 7 81265-2). This is the standard cover artwork for this album.

 

The back insert for the West German pressing of Laura Branigan Hold Me (Atlantic, catalog number 7 81265-2). As noted in the bottom left corner, this insert was printed in West Germany.

 

The West German Non-Target pressing of Laura Branigan Hold Me (Atlantic, catalog number 7 81265-2). The disc has “MADE IN WEST GERMANY BY POLYGRAM” printed along the perimeter, and the matrix code is “7567 81265-2 2895 679 01 #”.

 

In December 2013, we reviewed an early Japan-for-U.S. pressing of Lou Reed’s classic album from 1972, Transformer. That write-up can be found here. In that post, the focus was a particularly rare early Japanese Denon pressing that is paired with inserts printed in Japan. Reference was also made to a more common Japanese Denon pressing of Transformer found with U.S. inserts. This later Japan-for-U.S. disc was considered for a follow-up post on Transformer, but we instead take a look here at a U.S. pressing that bears similarities to those earlier discs from Japan.

We often discuss here that an appealing characteristic of early CDs is their colorful labels. As the CD became the mainstream physical format and the pressing plants ramped up production accordingly, simpler disc designs were chosen by the record labels likely to lower production costs.

The aforementioned Japan-for-U.S. pressings of Transformer have as their label design a thick blue outer ring, blue text, a large white RCA logo, and no paint coating. Later U.S. pressings of Transformer, like other RCA titles, are typically found with a later, plain design of a black outer ring, black RCA logo, black text, and no paint coating. Here we consider a U.S. pressing of Transformer with the original blue and white design that appears to be rare. This U.S. pressing bears the same catalog number as earlier Japan-for-U.S. discs — PCD14807.

The featured disc was pressed at Denon’s U.S. plant, and the matrix code is “PCD14807 2/89 2DB3”. Thus the catalog number is contained in the matrix code. The “2/89” in the matrix code suggests that the glass master for this U.S. pressing was made in February 1989. Assuming this to be true, it is particularly interesting. The aforementioned early Japanese pressing of Transformer posted back in December 2013 stems from 1983 or ’84 by virtue of the matrix code style. Given that, it would seem that RCA used the original label design on the U.S. pressing some five or six year later.

Shown below are the cover and back insert for the unique U.S. pressing of Transformer, along with the CD.

 

The cover for the U.S. Denon pressing of Lou Reed Transformer (RCA, catalog number PCD14807). The RCA CD logo is printed in the bottom center. This same cover artwork was used for the earlier Japan-for-U.S. pressings.

 

The back insert for the U.S. Denon pressing of Lou Reed Transformer (RCA, catalog number PCD14807).  As noted along the bottom, this insert was printed in U.S.  The booklet was also printed in U.S. The early Japan-for-U.S. pressing of Transformer posted in December 2013 has inserts printed in Japan.

 

The U.S. Denon pressing of Lou Reed Transformer (RCA, catalog number PCD14807). This is the same colorful label design used for the earlier Japan-for-U.S. pressings. The matrix code on this U.S. pressing is “PCD14807 2/89 2DB3”. The matrix code suggests that the glass master was produced in February 1989.

Back in February, we discussed an early Canadian issue of Paul McCartney’s Pipes of Peace album (click here). That issue paired a Japan-for-U.S. CBS/Sony pressing with U.S. inserts. The barcodes on the inserts were covered with CBS-Canada distribution stickers, thereby denoting it a Canadian issue. We called it a Japan-for-Canada pressing for short. Here we consider on a companion piece, one that contrasts nicely with that Japan-for-Canada issue.

It seems obvious that the Japan-for-Canada issue previously posted was the first CD of Pipes of Peace released in Canada. One might expect that a Canadian pressing (e.g., Cinram) would follow. Not in this case. The second Canadian issue is featured here. Let’s call it a U.S.-for-Canada issue.

The second Canadian issue pairs a U.S. DADC pressing with Canadian inserts (actually customized for the Canadian market). Comparing the two releases, we see a clear sequence — the Japan-for-Canada issue matches the earlier disc with earlier inserts, while the U.S.-for-Canada issue matches the later disc with later inserts.

The U.S.-for-Canada issue is still on the Columbia label and bears catalog number CK 39193, just like the Japan-for-Canada version. As an early U.S. DADC pressing, the disc has the text “Made in USA – Digital Audio Disc Corp.” stamped on the clear plastic ring. It also has “MADE IN U.S.A.” printed along the perimeter around 5 o’clock. The matrix code on the particular DADC disc considered here is “DIDP 20036 21A2”. For comparison, the matrix code on the Japan-for-Canada disc posted earlier is “DIDP-20036 21A2”. At first glance, it would seem that the two discs have the identical matrix code, meaning they were made from the same glass master. However, the Japanese disc has a hyphen in the matrix code, while the U.S. pressing lacks the hyphen. They are distinct pressings.

As noted above, the second Canadian issue has customized Canadian inserts. The booklet and back insert are quite a bit different in appearance than the corresponding U.S. inserts. The Canadian inserts reference CBS Records Canada Ltd. in Don Mills, Ontario.

Shown below are the cover, a spine label, and the back insert for the U.S.-for-Canada issue of Pipes of Peace, along with the U.S. DADC pressing.

 

mccartney-us-for-canada-cover_500

The cover for the U.S.-for-Canada issue of Paul McCartney Pipes of Peace (Columbia, catalog number CK 39149). This booklet was customized for the Canadian market and is therefore different than the booklet issued by Columbia in the U.S.

 

mccartney-us-for-canada-back-insert_500

The back insert for the U.S.-for-Canada issue of Paul McCartney Pipes of Peace (Columbia, catalog number CK 39149). Like the booklet above, the back insert was customized for the Canadian market and is different than the back insert issued by Columbia in the U.S. Note that “Distributed by CBS Records Canada Ltd.” is printed along bottom in English and French. The CBS Records address in Don Mills, Ontario is included. The catalog number is printed in the bottom right corner. Note the hyphen (CK-39193). The hyphen was unique to Canadian CBS inserts.

 

mccartney-us-for-canada-spine_500

A spine label for the U.S.-for-Canada issue of Paul McCartney Pipes of Peace (Columbia, catalog number CK 39149). As with the back insert, a hyphen appears in the catalog number. The font is different than the one used by CBS for spine labels in the U.S.

 

mccartney-us-for-canada_500

The U.S.-for-Canada pressing of Paul McCartney Pipes of Peace (Columbia, catalog number CK 39149). This same disc was issued in the U.S. and bears the U.S. catalog number. The disc has “Made in USA – Digital Audio Disc Corp.” stamped on the plastic ring, and the matrix code is “DIDP 20036 21A2”. It also has “MADE IN U.S.A.” printed along the perimeter. The “triangle-in-circle” symbol beneath the CD format logo at 3 o’clock was used by the DADC plant and does not appear on the earlier Japanese CBS/Sony pressing.

Back in December, we looked at an early country Christmas CD (Willie Nelson). Now in April, we consider country music again. The twist here is that the disc is an early mail-order club issue. After selling records and tapes for years by mail — Remember 12 records for a penny? — it only made sense for Columbia House and BMG to offer CDs by mail. The promotions with CDs were similar (as were the shipping charges).

The mail-order clubs began selling CDs in the U.S. around 1986. As such, some of the early club issues were pressed in Japan and West Germany. Generally speaking, these early club discs are very rare. Here we consider an early club issue of Greatest Hits from The Gambler, Kenny Rogers, that was pressed in Japan. This particular disc was distributed by RCA Direct Marketing, which later became the BMG music club.

Although the RCA Direct Marketing issue of Greatest Hits was pressed in Japan, it is not the first CD issue of the album. No, the club disc was preceded by a retail issue that was pressed in West Germany. The West German disc was pressed by PolyGram and was released under Liberty/EMI catalog number pressing CDP 7 46004 2. As expected, the catalog number is shown on the disc and inserts. Interestingly, this original retail disc shows the album title as “Lady”, which is one of the included song titles. The retail disc has black text with no color coating.

Getting back to the club disc, the album title is shown correctly as Greatest Hits. This disc is also unique in that the text is red instead of the ubiquitous black. For the RCA Direct Marketing issue, catalog number CDP 7 46004 2 is only shown on the booklet cover. No catalog number is presented on the spines or back insert. The disc only shows the RCA Direct Marketing stock number, 150019D.

The early club disc was pressed in Japan by Denon and bears the familiar Denon dot-matrix matrix code font. The matrix code is “D1-50019 1A3 75”. Thus, the aforementioned RCA Direct Marketing stock number is contained in the matrix code, but with the ‘D’ at beginning rather than at the end.

Shown below is the booklet, back insert, and a spine label for the early RCA Direct Marketing issue of Kenny Rogers Greatest Hits, followed by the unique Japanese pressing.

 

kenny-rogers-bmg-cover_500

The cover for the RCA Direct Marketing mail-order club issue of Kenny Rogers Greatest Hits (Liberty/EMI, catalog number CDP 7 46004 2). The catalog number is printed in the lower left corner.

 

kenny-rogers-bmg-back-insert_500

The back insert for the RCA Direct Marketing mail-order club issue of Kenny Rogers Greatest Hits (Liberty/EMI, catalog number CDP 7 46004 2).  RCA Direct Marketing text and the stock number of “D 150019” is printed in the top right corner in place of a barcode.

 

kenny-rogers-bmg-spine_500

A spine label for the RCA Direct Marketing mail-order club issue of Kenny Rogers Greatest Hits (Liberty/EMI, catalog number CDP 7 46004 2). There is no catalog number. Note that the record label is shown as EMI America.

 

kenny-rogers-bmg_500

The early RCA Direct Marketing mail-order club issue of Kenny Rogers Greatest Hits (Liberty/EMI, catalog number CDP 7 46004 2). The disc was pressed by Denon, and the matrix code is “D1-50019 1A3 75”. The matrix code is stamped in the typical Denon dot-matrix font. Note that “MADE IN JAPAN”, the stock number “D150019”, and “Mfd. for RCA Direct Marketing, Inc. under License” are printed at about 3 o’clock. The catalog number does not appear on the disc. The Liberty Records logo is printed at 12 o’clock.

Next »