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!

buy soma prescription Movin’ Wes">The original West German pressing of Wes Montgomery cheap Soma overnight delivery Movin’ Wes

In this month’s post, we consider an early West German CD with one of the popular painted labels. This is not the first time, however, that we have written about this particular design. In March of 2013, we looked at the original West German CD of the renown jazz album on Verve Records, Getz/Gilberto (click here). The disc has the original Verve CD design, silver text on a black paint coating. Let’s look at another such pressing.

Wes Montgomery is regarded as one of the greatest jazz guitarists of all time. Sadly, Montgomery passed away at just 45 years of age, but he still amassed a very impressive catalog of recordings. After a successful run with Riverside, Wes Montgomery signed with Verve. His Verve debut was 1964’s Movin’ Wes, an 11-track effort containing some pop renditions and a brass orchestra to back him up.

Verve originally released Movin’ Wes on CD in the 1983-84 time frame under catalog number 810 045-2. Early copies were pressed at the PolyGram Hanover, West Germany plant for sale in the U.S. and Europe. The earliest such pressings have the aforementioned silver text and black paint coating. Later West German and subsequent U.S. pressings have black text over aluminum (i.e., no paint coating). The original black-paint version is rather rare compared to no-paint counterparts.

The matrix code for the black-paint pressing is “810045 2 01”. This is the original matrix code format adopted by the PolyGram plant. Later West German pressings of Movin’ Wes (with no paint coating) have matrix codes of the form “810 045-2 XX”, where XX represents a two-digit number identifying the particular digital “stamper” used. As noted, the black-paint disc presented here has a matrix code ending in 01, meaning that this disc was made from the earliest stamper. (It should be stated that not all West German discs are found with an 01 pressing. In some cases, 02 is the earliest pressing.)

The inserts accompanying the black-paint Movin’ Wes disc were printed in West Germany. As an early pressing, it is typically found in a jewel case with smooth top and bottom edges (rather than the later ridged edges).

Shown below is the cover and back insert for the West German release of Movin’ Wes, along with the original black-paint disc.

 

The cover for the West German black-paint pressing of Wes Montgomery Movin’ Wes (Verve, catalog number 810 045-2). This is the standard cover artwork for this album.

 

The back insert for the West German black-paint pressing of Wes Montgomery Movin’ Wes (Verve, catalog number 810 045-2).  The catalog number is printed in the top left corner. As noted next to the catalog number, Movin’ Wes is a stereo recording. Note the statements “CD is manufactured by PolyGram in Hanover, West Germany” and “Printed in West Germany” along the bottom.

 

The West German black-paint pressing of Wes Montgomery Movin’ Wes (Verve, catalog number 810 045-2). The catalog number is printed at 3 o’clock, as is “Made in West Germany”. The matrix code is “810045 2 01”.

With the Elton John biopic Rocketman opening in theaters in the U.S. today, it seems fitting to review an early CD of the megastar behind the piano. In this post we consider the original Japanese CD issue (i.e., Japan-for-Japan) of Sir Elton’s 1973 album Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player. This is a favorite Elton John album of mine by virtue of its inclusion of two staples, the album’s opener “Daniel” and “Crocodile Rock”.

Before hopping and bopping to the Japanese disc, let’s quickly review the record labels that Elton John’s early albums appeared on when they first appeared on CD in the 1980s. In the U.S., early titles were under license with MCA Records. However, in Europe and Japan, Dick James Music (DJM) owned the rights to the early John catalog. Therefore, the first Japanese issue of Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player was released on the DJM label.

The Japanese DJM release of Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player was released in 1988 under catalog number 23PD-105. The disc label is monotone with black text and black line accents over aluminum (i.e., no paint coating). The line motif is similar to that found on Mercury titles with the common “atomic” label design. This is not so surprising when one considers that DJM and Mercury were under the Phonogram label umbrella in the 1980s.

The DJM disc was pressed by Sanyo. Early Japanese Sanyo pressings are easy to spot due to the text “MANUFACTURED BY SANYO JAPAN” stamped in the mirror band. By the late ’80s, Sanyo stopped adding this text, but the matrix code on the Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player disc is stamped in the standard ’80s Sanyo font. The matrix code is “23PD105 B8B16J”.

With Japanese CD releases often imported to various parts of the world, it is rather common to see inserts printed in English and Japanese. For the Japanese Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player issue, the booklet contains the lyrics in English and liner notes in Japanese. The back insert provides the album title, song titles, and Elton John in both English and Japanese. The disc label is printed entirely in English. One spine label is printed in Japanese, while the other is printed in English.

This Japanese Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player CD is rare, but used copies can be found for sale online. As a Japanese release, it carries a premium over the original U.S. and European issues of the album, especially if the obi strip is included. Thus, the Japanese disc is more for serious Elton John and CD collectors. If you are more of a casual collector, consider the U.S. and European versions, which are still rare.

Shown below is the cover and back insert for the original Japanese issue of Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player along with the Sanyo pressing.

 

The cover for the original Japanese issue of Elton John Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player (DJM, catalog number 23PD 105). This is the standard cover artwork for this album.

 

The back insert for the original Japanese issue of Elton John Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player (DJM, catalog number 23PD 105). The album title, song titles, and Elton John are printed in English and Japanese. As noted in the text next to the barcode, this disc was made in Japan. The retail price is listed as ¥2,153 (Japanese Yen) along the bottom.

 

The Japan-for-Japan pressing of Elton John Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player (DJM, catalog number 23PD 105). The disc was pressed by Sanyo, and the matrix code is “23PD105 B8B16J”. Note that “MADE IN JAPAN” is printed at 6 o’clock.

In this month’s post we consider something new: A first review of an early rap CD on keithhirsch.com. Long before L.L. Cool J starred on NCIS: Los Angeles, he was, of course, a rapper, and a brilliant one. L.L. hit the rap scene with a smash in 1985 with his acclaimed debut, Radio. Then in 1987, he released his sophomore effort, Bigger and Deffer.

Although Bigger and Deffer did not receive the rave reviews of Radio, it still further established L.L. Cool J as a rap star. Bigger and Deffer is particularly remembered for the hit opening track, “I’m Bad”.

Naturally, 1987’s Bigger and Deffer was released on vinyl and cassette, but it also saw a digital release on CD. CBS, the parent to L.L. Cool J’s label, Def Jam Recordings, released the album on CD in the U.S. and Europe in 1987. Let’s take a closer look at the European release.

The European issue of Bigger and Deffer bears catalog number DEF 450515 2. DEF, of course, references the Def Jam label. Early European CBS CDs have a catalog number prefix of CDCBS (CBS), CDEPC (Epic), CDGEF (Geffen), etc. By 1987, CBS dropped the CD portion of the prefix in Europe.

First copies of Bigger and Deffer released in Europe were pressed in Japan by CBS/Sony. Although the U.S. DADC plant had been running for three years by 1987 serve the domestic market, its Austrian counterpart first opened in 1987 to serve Europe. As a result, CBS continued to import Japanese pressings to Europe into ’87. Thus, while U.S. pressings of Bigger and Deffer hit the shelves in the U.S. in ’87, Europe first received Japanese pressings.

The Japanese pressing of Bigger and Deffer bears the typical label design for early European CBS releases — black text with no paint coating, with a black ring on the perimeter and a black arc filling the space not covered along the perimeter by the legal text. That text ends with “MANUFACTURED BY CBS/SONY INC. IN JAPAN”. The disc shows both the Def Jam and CBS logos at 9 o’clock and the catalog number at 2 o’clock.

The Japan-for-Europe disc has no text stamped on the central plastic ring, and the matrix code is “DIDP-10770 11 +++++”. The project number, “DIDP 10770”, is printed beneath the catalog number.

Given that the CD was still growing in popularity in 1987 and that rap was not yet mainstream, the Japan-for-Europe pressing of Bigger and Deffer is rather rare. Shown below is the cover and back insert for the Bigger and Deffer, along with the Japanese pressing.

 

The cover for the Japan-for-Europe pressing of L.L. Cool J Bigger and Deffer (“BAD”) (Def Jam (CBS), catalog number DEF 450515 2). This is the standard cover artwork for this album.

 

The back insert for the Japan-for-Europe pressing of L.L. Cool J Bigger and Deffer (Def Jam (CBS), catalog number DEF 450515 2). The catalog number is printed beneath the Def Jam logo in the top left corner. As noted in the paragraph at the bottom, this insert was printed in Holland.

 

The Japan-for-Europe pressing of L.L. Cool J Bigger and Deffer (“BAD”) (Def Jam (CBS), catalog number DEF 450515 2). The disc was pressed by CBS/Sony. The catalog number is printed at 2 o’clock. There is no text stamped on the plastic ring, and the matrix code is “DIDP-10770 11 +++++”. “DIDP 10770” is the project number and is printed beneath the catalog number.

Back in October 2016, we looked at a Japan-for-U.S. pressing of Boston’s self-titled debut album. As noted in that post, the album first appeared on CD in the U.S. as a U.S. DADC pressing. Early DADC pressings of Boston are rather common, but here we consider a much rarer U.S. pressing

We’ve discussed in other posts that the record labels sometimes farmed out CD production to various pressing plants to keep up with demand in the early years. That led to some unusual pressings given typical record label-pressing plant affiliations. Boston Boston was released on the Epic Records label, which in the ’80s was part of CBS Records. In the U.S., CBS owned the DADC plant. Thus, the majority of CBS CDs released in the U.S. were pressed by DADC. In a few rare instances in the late ’80s, CBS turned to PDO, Philips-DuPont Optical, for production of its CDs. Boston is one such CBS (Epic) title pressed by PDO.

The predecessor to PDO in West Germany was PolyGram. West German PolyGram and subsequent PDO pressings are distinguished by an aluminum hub, meaning an aluminum coating running to the center hole in place of a clear plastic ring. PDO plants that opened in the U.K. and U.S. adopted this same manufacturing process. Thus, the U.S. PDO pressing of Boston is unique for an Epic title by virtue of the aluminum hub. This is one of those unusual pressing affiliations we mentioned above. Epic CDs, as part of CBS, are typically found with a clear plastic ring since the discs most often originated from the Japanese CBS/Sony, U.S. DADC, or U.S. Columbia-Pitman plants.

The U.S. PDO pressing of Boston is found with standard U.S. inserts that were in use for nearly two decades. The matrix code on the PDO disc is “EK34188 09%”, where “EK34188” represents the U.S. catalog number. The disc also has “MADE IN USA BY PDO” stamped near the center hole on the play side.

Shown below is the cover and back insert for the original U.S. issue of Boston Boston, along with the rare U.S. PDO pressing.

 

The cover for the original U.S. issue of Boston Boston (Epic, catalog number EK 34188). This is the standard cover artwork for this album.

 

The back insert for the original U.S. issue of Boston Boston (Epic, catalog number EK 34188). The running time for “Rock & Roll Band” is erroneously shown as 2:60 (2 minutes, 60 seconds) instead of 3:00 (3 minutes, 0 seconds).

 

The U.S. PDO pressing of the original U.S. issue of Boston Boston (Epic, catalog number EK 34188). Note the aluminum hub, a hallmark of the PDO manufacturing process. The catalog number is printed above the CD format logo at 3 o’clock. “DIDP 20006” beneath the catalog number is a project number that also appears on earlier U.S. DADC plant pressings. The disc above has “MADE IN USA BY PDO” stamped on the play side near the center hole, and the matrix code is “EK34188 09%”.

This month, an artist makes her debut to keithhirsch.com. British singer, songwriter Joan Armatrading began recording in 1972, starting out with a folk emphasis. A master of many genres, she later infused jazz, rock, and eventually pop and new wave into her music. By 1983, Armatrading, like many, had adopted synthesizers with the release of The Key. Let’s take a closer look at this album, including a very rare CD pressing.

The Key was released by A&M Records in 1983 and contains 11 songs, including the hit, “Drop the Pilot”. The album was issued on CD in the U.S. in the 1983-84 time frame with three Japanese pressings. These early CDs bear A&M catalog number CD-4912. The relatively common Japanese pressings are from the Matsushita and Denon plants. The third Japanese pressing, the very rare one, is from CBS/Sony and will be the focus for the remainder of this post.

The CBS/Sony pressing of The Key has “CSR COMPACT DISC” repeating three times in the center plastic ring, a common feature of many early pressings from the Japanese plant. CBS/Sony assigned project number DIDX-20 to The Key, and the matrix code on this particular pressing is “DIDX-20 31A1 +++++”. The disc also has “Made in Japan” and “DIDX20” printed beneath the CD format logo at 8 o’clock.

The inserts for the CBS/Sony pressing were printed in Japan, and there is no barcode on the back insert. Despite the U.S. catalog number on the disc and inserts, the particular copy featured here was actually issued in the U.K. The front of the jewel case has a sticker that reads:

U. K

CAT. NO.

CDA

64912

This disc is not the standard early U.K. issue of The Key. Rather, it is a U.S. issue that was distributed in the U.K. to meet demand. There is a dedicated early U.K. issue of The Key showing catalog number CDA 64912 on the disc and inserts. The earliest such copies were pressed by CBS/Sony but do not show project number DIDX-20.

Getting back to the CD-4912/DIDX-20 disc, another interesting feature of the copy shown here is a sticker on the front of the jewel case announcing Armatrading as a nominee for the 1987 Brit Awards. Despite the date, the Japanese DIDX-20 disc definitely pre-dates 1987 and was likely pressed in 1984. The sticker must have been added at a store in 1987 for promotional purposes.

As previously stated, this Japanese CBS/Sony pressing of The Key is very rare. One is far more likely to find the Japanese Matsushita and Denon pressings (and later U.S. pressings reissued under A&M catalog number CD-3318). Expect to search quite a while for the CBS/Sony disc, but keep searching. I finally found a copy after years hunting online and in used CD shops. Shown below are the inserts for original U.S. issue of The Key, along with the Japanese CBS/Sony pressing.

 

The cover for the Japanese CBS/Sony pressing of Joan Armatrading The Key (A&M, catalog number CD-4912). This is the standard cover artwork for this album. The insert is shown inside the original jewel case. The two stickers are on the front of the jewel case. One indicates that this copy was distributed in the U.K. in place of the official U.K. release bearing catalog number CDA 64912. The second sticker indicates that Armatrading was a nominee for the 1987 Brit Awards. Despite this sticker, the Japanese CBS/Sony pressing pre-dates 1987 and was likely pressed in 1984.

 

The back insert for the Japanese CBS/Sony pressing of Joan Armatrading The Key (A&M, catalog number CD-4912). There is no barcode. As noted along the bottom, this insert was printed in Japan.

 

The Japanese CBS/Sony pressing of Joan Armatrading The Key (A&M, catalog number CD-4912). The text “CSR COMPACT DISC” repeats in the clear plastic ring at the center, and the matrix code is “DIDX-20 31A1 +++++”. Note that “Made in Japan” and “DIDX20” are printed beneath the CD format logo at 8 o’clock.

Back in 2011, a rare West German pressing of the 1979 Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers album, Night in Tunisia, was featured here on keithhirsch.com (click here). That disc is noteworthy by virtue of its prominent blue-arrow motif. The blue arrow was one of the earliest label designs used for CDs on the Philips label. As such, this Blakey pressing is quite rare and popular with collectors.

Now we consider a variation of the blue-arrow pressing that is also early, rare, and sought by collectors. Behold the green-blue-arrow pressing of Night in Tunisia. This disc is similar to the copy we discussed in 2011. In one case, the arrow and the text printed on the label side of the disc are dark blue. For the copy considered here, the arrow and text are green-blue, like a teal color.

The two arrow pressings of Night in Tunisia were pressed by Polygram and share the same matrix code, “800064 2 01”, meaning they were made from the same glass master. The two discs have identical inserts. By inspection of the disc and inserts, it is not clear which color variation came first. It also is not known why the variations exist. Was Polygram consciously testing colors? Is one variation a pressing error? Did Polygram get the wrong ink lot at some point?

Both of these early arrow pressings of Night in Tunisia are rare. Based on the limited number of copies likely to be found in used CD stores and online, determining which variation is rarer is not expected to be definitive. If you can only buy one of these variations, take either one happily.

Shown below is the cover and back insert for the West German Philips release of Night in Tunisia, along with the green-blue-arrow pressing.

 

The cover for the West German green-blue-arrow pressing of Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers Night in Tunisia (Philips, catalog number 800 064-2). This is the standard cover artwork for this album.

 

The back insert for the West German green-blue-arrow pressing of Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers Night in Tunisia (Philips, catalog number 800 064-2). This is the identical insert found with blue-arrow pressing.

 

The West German green-blue-arrow pressing of Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers Night in Tunisia (Philips, catalog number 800 064-2). The matrix code is “800064-2 01”. Three spelling errors are noted. Tunisia is twice misspelled “Tunesia”, and alto next to Robert Watson in the personnel list is misspelled “also”. The same spelling errors appear on the blue-arrow pressing.

As we head into 2019, let’s consider an early, brilliant album by Bob Dylan. No, not Bringing It All Back Home. Not Highway 61 Revisited. Not Blonde on Blonde either. These three consecutive albums certainly are brilliant and are worthy of a spot here, but not this time. Instead, let’s look at Dylan’s 1967 effort that followed Blonde on Blonde. It is the departure album, John Wesley Harding. Not another folk album, John Wesley Harding instead is a softer album representing Dylan’s first venture into country.

John Wesley Harding is not a complicated album, but it nevertheless illustrates Dylan’s genius and breadth. The album consists of 12 songs and includes “All Along the Watchtower”, famously covered by Jimi Hendrix. Let’s now take a look at the first U.S. CD issue of John Wesley Harding. This CD was released in the mid-’80s under Columbia Records catalog number CK 9604.

Admittedly, John Wesley Harding does not enjoy top-tier status when considering Dylan’s early efforts (Popularity Contest!), and as such, was not among the first Dylan albums released on CD by CBS Records. In the U.S., the first Dylan albums released on CD were Highway 61 Revisited, Blood on the Tracks, and Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits. The first copies of these albums to be released in the U.S. were Japanese CBS/Sony pressings. In the case of John Wesley Harding, there is no Japan-for-U.S. pressing. Instead, the album first appeared as a U.S. DADC pressing.

The early U.S. DADC pressing of John Wesley Harding bears the typical plain design of U.S. CBS releases, just black text with no paint coating. The disc has “Made in USA – Digital Audio Disc Corp.” stamped on the plastic ring, and the matrix code is “DIDP 70097 11A4”. “DIDP 70097” is printed beneath the catalog number at 3 o’clock. This disc is not terribly rare, though one is far more likely to find later U.S. pressings by DADC or the now-defunct Columbia Records plant in Pitman, New Jersey (all bearing catalog number CK 9604).

Shown below is the cover and back insert for the original U.S. issue of John Wesley Harding, as well as the early U.S. DADC pressing.

Happy New Year!

 

The cover for the original U.S. issue of Bob Dylan John Wesley Harding (Columbia, catalog number CK 9604). This is the standard cover artwork for this album.

 

The back insert for the original U.S. issue of Bob Dylan John Wesley Harding (Columbia, catalog number CK 9604). The 12 tracks are listed. Note the barcode in the bottom left corner.

 

The early U.S. DADC pressing of Bob Dylan John Wesley Harding (Columbia, catalog number CK 9604). “Made in USA – Digital Audio Disc Corp.” is stamped on the clear plastic ring at the center, and the matrix code is “DIDP 70097 11A4”. “DIDP 70097” is printed beneath the catalog number at 3 o’clock.

Happy Holidays 2018! As we embark on the most wonderful time of the year, and the cold that comes with it (for many of us), let’s take in some country music. This year, we consider the 1984 album from country legend Barbara Mandrell entitled Christmas at Our House. First, Mandrell is particularly fitting for our holiday post, not just because of her pop and country prowess, but because she was born on Christmas Day (in 1948 in Houston, Texas). Christmas at Our House contains 10 songs with a country pop flare and includes the standard “I’ll be Home for Christmas”.

Mandrell’s label MCA Records released Christmas at Our House on CD in the U.S. under catalog number MCAD-5519. The first copies to hit the shelves were pressed in Japan by JVC, and both the disc and inserts show a JVC project number as “JVC-516”. The inserts reference MCA’s address in Universal City, California and likely were printed in the U.S. The back cover of the booklet boldly states “DIGITALLY MIXED AND MASTERED ANALOGUE RECORDING”. The inserts are bland pink, a motif adopted by MCA in the mid-’80s.

Shown below is the the booklet and back insert for Christmas at Our House, along with the Japanese JVC pressing.

Be safe this holiday season. Enjoy!

 

The cover for Barbara Mandrell Christmas at Our House (MCA, catalog number MCAD-5519). This is the standard cover artwork for this album, with the addition of the CD format logo in the bottom right corner.

 

The back insert for Barbara Mandrell Christmas at Our House (MCA, catalog number MCAD-5519). A barcode is printed in the top right corner. The plain pink color scheme was commonly used by MCA starting in the mid-’80s.

 

The Japanese JVC pressing of Barbara Mandrell Christmas at Our House (MCA, catalog number MCAD-5519). “Manufactured in Japan for MCA Records, Inc.” is printed beneath the CD format logo at 3 o’clock. The catalog number and JVC project number are printed next to the CD format logo. The matrix code is “MCAD-5519-S1C11”.

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