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!

CDs play from the inside out, the opposite of vinyl records. Thus, with a CD, any “dead space”, where there is no musical content, lies along the outer edge of the disc. Over the years on keithhirsch.com, we’ve discussed aesthetic qualities of many West German pressings, but the focus has been the interesting, colorful label sides. Tying the first two points together, let’s consider a different aesthetic feature of some West German CDs.

Look at the typical CD that doesn’t maximize the playing capacity of approximately 80 minutes, and you will see that the dead space at the outer edge has a “matte” appearance. It is reflective, much like the play (data) portion of the disc, but has a somewhat matte or flat look. For some early West German CDs, however, the dead space has a mirrored appearance. Let’s call this an “outer mirror band” to contrast it with the typical inner mirror band where the matrix code is located.

So why the outer mirror band? I can only assume that this was another feature added for aesthetics to aid in the marketing appeal of the then-new CD format.

The outer mirror band is found on some of the earliest CDs pressed in West Germany by Polygram. Examples are select Polydor and RSO titles with catalog numbers of the form 800 XXX-2. The outer mirror band is also found on certain West German Polygram pressings of classical titles on the Philips, London, Decca, and Deutsche Grammophone labels. These discs typically have catalog numbers of the form 400 XXX-2, though the outer mirror band is also found on some 410 XXX-2 titles.

Another feature of West German classical titles with 400 XXX-2 catalog numbers and the outer mirror band further designating them as early pressings is the matrix code format. Note the following:

  • The matrix code bears the original character grouping of “400XXX 2 0X”. For example, a disc with catalog number 400 050-2 and the outer mirror band has matrix code “400050 2 01”. Later West German pressings without the outer mirror band (Polygram or PDO plant pressings) have the matrix code with character grouping “400 050-2 0X” (with X being 1, 2, 3, etc.).

For an example of a classical CD with the outer mirror band, we will look at the recording of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5, “Emperor”, performed by Radu Lupu with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Zubin Mehta. This recording was released on CD by Decca under catalog number 400 050-2. The disc and inserts show a phonogram date of 1979, while the back insert also includes a copyright date of 1982. The earliest CD pressing with the outer mirror band likely is from 1982.

The pressing of Piano Concerto No. 5, “Emperor” with the outer mirror band shows the matrix code already stated above — “400050 2 01”. The disc states “Made in W.-Germany” at 3 o’clock, and the inserts were printed in West Germany. Shown below is the cover and back insert for Piano Concerto No. 5, “Emperor”, along with the play and label sides of the early pressing, showing the outer mirror band.

 

beethoven radu cover_500

The cover for the original West German pressing of Ludwig van Beethoven (Radu Lupu, Piano; Israel Philharmonic Orchestra; Zubin Mehta, Conductor) Piano Concerto No. 5, “Emperor” (Decca, catalog number 400 050-2). Note the “DIGITAL RECORDING” banner in the top left corner. Since digital recording was newer technology believed to offer advantages over traditional analog recordings at the time of the CD format’s launch, record labels often boldly advertised digital recordings. The catalog number for this title is printed in the top right corner, above the Decca logo.

 

beethoven radu back insert_500

The back insert for the original West German pressing of Ludwig van Beethoven (Radu Lupu, Piano; Israel Philharmonic Orchestra; Zubin Mehta, Conductor) Piano Concerto No. 5, “Emperor” (Decca, catalog number 400 050-2). The phonogram and copyright dates of 1979 and 1982, respectively, are printed near the bottom. The copyright date is printed in the top right corner. As stated along the bottom, the insert was printed in West Germany. Also note the statement near the bottom, “CD is manufactured by Polygram in Hanover, West Germany.”

 

beethoven radu label side_500

The original West German pressing of Ludwig van Beethoven (Radu Lupu, Piano; Israel Philharmonic Orchestra; Zubin Mehta, Conductor) Piano Concerto No. 5, “Emperor” (Decca, catalog number 400 050-2). This is the typical label design for West German Decca CDs. The outer mirror band is visible as a dark ring next to the outer blue and red rings. The outer mirror band matches the appearance of the inner hub portion of the disc. The matrix code is “400050 2 01”.

 

beethoven radu play side_500

The play side of the original West German pressing of Ludwig van Beethoven (Radu Lupu, Piano; Israel Philharmonic Orchestra; Zubin Mehta, Conductor) Piano Concerto No. 5, “Emperor” (Decca, catalog number 400 050-2). Note the outer mirror band as a dark ring.

I try to vary the content of posts on keithhirsch.com. Looking at the home page, it has been several months since I offered up a collectible West German pressing. So I was all ready to write up a West German disc here today when I became distracted. You see, the legendary blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan died tragically on this day 26 years ago. On August 27, 1990, Vaughan left us far too early at just 35 years old. He died in a helicopter crash in Wisconsin. I love Stevie Ray Vaughan’s music and had to feature him here today. As will be seen, this post will show Japanese instead of West German pressings by virtue of Vaughan’s label affiliation.

Vaughan was a brilliant guitarist, songwriter, and frontman. Blues made a comeback in the 1980s largely due to Vaughan’s talent. Listening to Vaughan’s albums, he was not a straight bluesman. There was a rock element to his songwriting. He drew inspirations from blues legends Muddy Waters and Albert King, but also from rockers such as Jimi Hendrix. The result was a blues-rock-laden amalgam that was different than what anyone else was doing in the ’80s. Of course, Vaughan was a great guitarist. With his virtuoso guitar, gruff vocals, and hooks, it’s no surprise that Vaughan was immensely popular when he hit the scene with his first album backed by Double Trouble, 1983’s Texas Flood.

Vaughan was signed to Epic Records, part of CBS. Given that, in looking at early CD pressings of his albums, we do not consider West German pressings. We instead, are looking at Japanese pressings, specifically discs pressed by CBS/Sony. Two rare, collectable discs to track down are Japan-for-U.S. pressings of the first two albums from Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, the aforementioned Texas Flood and 1984’s blockbuster sophomore effort, Couldn’t Stand the Weather. CDs of Texas Flood and Couldn’t Stand the Weather were released in the U.S. by Epic under catalog numbers EK 38734 and EK 39304, respectively. Based on pressing details (DIDP numbers), the Japan-for-U.S. pressings of these albums look to have hit the shelves in 1984.

Typical of early U.S. CBS titles, the inserts for Texas Flood and Couldn’t Stand the Weather reference the discs being made in Japan. Specifically, the back inserts and back covers of the booklets state “Disc manufactured in Japan by CBS/Sony, Tokyo, Japan.” When manufacturing of CBS titles shifted from Japan to the U.S. Digital Audio Disc Corporation (DADC) plant in Terre Haute, Indiana, back inserts for some titles were modified by the addition of “Now Made In The U.S.A.” next to the barcode. This statement was never added to back inserts for the U.S. release of Texas Flood, so all back inserts for this album, regardless of where the disc was pressed, look the same. However, the U.S.A. statement was added to the back insert for Couldn’t Stand the Weather. A back insert lacking the U.S.A. statement is a good indicator of a Japanese CBS/Sony pressings inside, but this is not a guarantee. The earliest U.S. DADC pressings of Couldn’t Stand the Weather can be found with the original back insert (no U.S.A. statement).

The Japanese CBS/Sony pressings of Texas Flood and Couldn’t Stand the Weather are fairly typical. Both discs have “CSR COMPACT DISC” repeating in the plastic ring. The matrix codes for the particular copies of Texas Flood and Couldn’t Stand the Weather posted here are “DIDP-20069 11A1” and “DIDP-20112 11”, respectively. The earliest Japan-for-U.S. CBS/Sony pressings bear DIDP 50XXX numbers and were released in 1983. Since the two Stevie Ray Vaughan titles considered here have DIDP-20XXX numbers, it is believed that the Japanese pressings were issued in 1984.

Vaughan’s early passing has in no way detracted from his popularity. As such, his albums have been reissued many times over the years in various formats and forms. From a collectable point of view, however, the Japan-for-U.S. pressings of Texas Flood and Couldn’t Stand the Weather are among the rarest Stevie Ray Vaughan discs. Shown below are inserts for the first U.S. issues of these albums along with the Japanese CBS/Sony pressings.

 

vaughan texas flood cover_500

The cover for the original U.S. CD issue of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble Texas Flood (Epic, catalog number EK 38734). This is the standard cover artwork for this album.

 

vaughan texas flood back insert_500

The back insert for the original U.S. CD issue of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble Texas Flood (Epic, catalog number EK 38734). Note the statement “Disc manufactured in Japan by CBS/Sony, Tokyo, Japan” along the bottom.

 

vaughan texas flood cd_500

The Japanese CBS/Sony pressing of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble Texas Flood (Epic, catalog number EK 38734). Although difficult to see in this picture, the disc states “MANUFACTURED IN JAPAN” along the perimeter. It has “CSR COMPACT DISC” repeating in the plastic ring, and the matrix code is “DIDP-20069 11A1”. Note that “DIDP 20069” is printed beneath the catalog number at 3 o’clock.

 

vaughan couldn't stand the weather cover_500

The cover for the original U.S. CD issue of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble Couldn’t Stand the Weather (Epic, catalog number EK 39304). This is the standard cover artwork for this album.

 

vaughan couldn't stand the weather back insert_500

The back insert for the original U.S. CD issue of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble Couldn’t Stand the Weather (Epic, catalog number EK 39304). Note the statement “Disc manufactured in Japan by CBS/Sony, Tokyo, Japan” along the bottom. Most later U.S. pressings have the statement “Now Made In The U.S.A.” added in the white space next to the barcode.

 

vaughan couldn't stand the weather cd_500

The Japanese CBS/Sony pressing of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble Couldn’t Stand the Weather (Epic, catalog number EK 39304). Although difficult to see in this picture, the disc states “MANUFACTURED IN JAPAN” along the perimeter. It has “CSR COMPACT DISC” repeating in the plastic ring, and the matrix code is “DIDP-20112 11”. Note that “DIDP 20112” is printed beneath the catalog number at 3 o’clock.

When talking jazz, the first thing that enters the minds of many is the legendary Blue Note label. In addition to their long history of releasing many of the best jazz albums of all time, they made jazz cool with their monochromatic album covers. Of course, many jazz greats have recorded with Blue Note over the years, including Miles Davis, Horace Silver, Art Blakey, and Jimmy Smith (my sincere apologies for not being able to list all of them here). For the audiophile, Blue Note is also recognized for the brilliant recordings of engineer Rudy Van Gelder.  For many jazz aficionados, Blue Note is the premier record label.

In the early days of the CD, jazz albums represented a significant portion of many record labels’ releases. This likely is due simply to the perception that many audiophiles who would be early adopters of the CD were jazz enthusiasts. It also helped that many of the classic jazz albums were well recorded (another tip of the hat to Mr. Van Gelder as it relates to Blue Note). Thus, there are many collectible jazz CDs for the early disc collector. Let’s consider here a rare Japanese pressing of a classic from the Blue Note canon.

Julian “Cannonball” Adderley is on the short list of greatest jazz saxophone players (alto sax, specifically). Cannonball Adderley (not to be confused with his jazz trumpet-playing brother Nat), recorded on many classic jazz albums and with many great musicians, both in the lead and supporting role. He was a member of the brilliant Miles Davis Sextet that recorded 1958’s Milestones and 1959’s landmark Kind of Blue (both for Columbia Records). Some of Adderley’s best-known albums as a leader were recorded with Fantasy Records, including The Cannonball Adderley Quintet in San Francisco (1958) and Know What I Mean? (1961).  So what about Cannonball on Blue Note?

1958 saw the release of what many consider to be Cannonball Adderley’s best album. Simply titled Somethin’ Else, the five-track offering was originally released on vinyl by Blue Note under catalog number 1595. The cover artwork is simple, which contributes to the mystique of this album. In fact, the cover has been imitated by various artists over the years. Even before playing Somethin’ Else, it is obvious from the musicians listed on the cover that this is a special set. Joining Adderley are Miles Davis (trumpet), Hank Jones (piano), Sam Jones (bass), and Art Blakey (drums). Then when playing the album, one can’t help but be mesmorized by the rhythm of the opening track, “Autumn Leaves”. This track includes the smooth, romantic, warm solicitations of Miles’ horn. Cannonball then takes over from Miles with more smoothness. The track oozes emotion and “feel”. A classic if there ever was one. That’s the opener, but Somethin’ Else stays strong throughout. The pace picks up with the album’s title track. Even if you don’t think you like jazz, you should own this album. It’s that good.

Given its status, Somethin’ Else was one of the first Blue Note albums to appear on CD. There is the first Japanese issue, a “black-triangle” pressing with catalog number CP35-3070. That is an interesting CD, but let’s instead focus here on the original disc released in the U.S. and Europe. Blue Note released Somethin’ Else on CD in both regions in 1986 under catalog number CDP 7 46338 2. This release includes “Alison’s Uncle” as a bonus track (Track 6). In the U.S., this issue of Somethin’ Else is most often found as a U.S. pressing, of which there are many. These U.S. pressings are not particularly interesting to the collector. However, there is a very rare Japanese pressing. Let’s take a look at this disc.

The Japanese pressing is the first of Somethin’ Else to be issued in the U.S. and Europe. In my experience, this is a very rare disc. It took me many years to track it down, and I have only seen the one copy presented here. The disc’s label design is borrowed from Blue Note’s vintage LPs. The Japanese pressing was produced in 1986 by Toshiba-EMI, and the matrix code is “CP32-5205 1A4 TO”. “TO” is a reference to the Toshiba-EMI pressing plant. CP32-5205 is the catalog number for the second Japanese CD issue of Somethin’ Else. The CP35 black-triangle disc was mentioned above as the first Japanese issue. This disc was in print in the period between 1983 and 1985, and then the CP32 disc was released in 1986. Thus, the Japanese pressing made for the U.S. and Europe and bearing catalog number CDP 7 46338 2 was made from a glass master for the second Japanese issue bearing catalog number CP32-5205.

The featured disc has “MADE IN JAPAN” printed at 8 o’clock, and the inserts are identical to those found with later U.S. pressings. Thus, the inserts themselves do not identify the rare Japanese pressing. One must inspect the disc. Shown below are the cover and back insert for this early issue of Somethin’ Else, along with the Japanese pressing.

 

adderley cover_500

The cover for Cannonball Adderley Somethin’ Else (Blue Note, catalog number CDP 7 46338 2). This simple artwork is the standard cover for this album.

 

adderley back insert_500

The back insert for Cannonball Adderley Somethin’ Else (Blue Note, catalog number CDP 7 46338 2). The legendary lineup on the album is listed at the top. The catalog number is shown in the bottom right corner. As noted, “Alison’s Uncle” is a bonus track on this CD.

 

adderley japan_500

The Japanese pressing of Cannonball Adderley Somethin’ Else (Blue Note, catalog number CDP 7 46338 2). “MADE IN JAPAN” is printed at 8 o’clock. The disc was pressed by Toshiba-EMI, and the matrix code is “CP32-5205 1A4 TO”. CP32-5205 is the catalog number for the second Japanese CD release of Somethin’ Else.

In the 1980s, R.E.M. came to define alternative rock or what some call “underground music”. Formed in Athens, Georgia in 1980, the quartet of front man Michael Stipe, Bill Berry, Peter Buck, and Mike Mills promoted a new guitar-laden, back-to-basics sound that influenced bands into the next decade and beyond. Starting with 1983’s Murmur, R.E.M. turned out a smash album a year through 1988 (the next album then followed in 1991), and their popularity grew through the decade. Arguably their defining anthem is 1987’s “It’s The End of The World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine)” from the album Document. You can probably turn back to a time when you were at a party or in a club and everyone stopped and shouted the lyrics. Everyone knows them (and feels fine).

With R.E.M.’s popularity growing in the 1980s, it only made sense for their label, I.R.S. Records, to take every opportunity to promote them, and to do so creatively. At the same time, CDs were becoming the preferred vehicle for music delivery. As we have seen on keithhirsch.com before, CDs became a promotional tool. Why not? What better way to promote an artist? Give people the music! Although promotional CDs seemed like a “Can’t miss”, like many early experimental CDs, many of the early promos were produced in limited quantities. Tying it all together, we consider here a very rare promotional CD single of R.E.M.’s “It’s The End of The World as We Know (and I Feel Fine)”.

The R.E.M. promotional single was released in the U.S. by I.R.S., part of MCA Records, in 1987 under catalog number CD45-17476. Based on the catalog number, I.R.S. obviously saw the CD single as the new 45. In the model of a classic 45, the CD single of “It’s The End of World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine)” has two tracks, specifically two versions of the title track. Track 1 is an edited version stated on the back insert to run 3:29. Track 2 is the album version, shown to run 4:07.

An interesting feature of this release is the front insert. It is a reproduction of the cover for the December 3, 1987 issue of Rolling Stone. Rolling Stone proclaimed R.E.M. “AMERICA’S BEST ROCK & ROLL BAND” on that cover, so it was a natural choice for the promotional single. This front insert is not a booklet. It is just single-sided and is printed on thick card stock. The song title is printed along the bottom.

The back insert lists the two tracks and is labeled “FOR PROMOTION ONLY” in the lower right corner. Since this is a promotional release, there is no barcode. The back insert is dated 1987, and it states with regards to the featured song “FROM THE I.R.S. LP, DOCUMENT, IRS-42059”. Note that this statement references the LP, not the CD. The original U.S. catalog number for the Document CD is IRSD-42059.

The single was pressed by LaserVideo, one of the first CD pressing plants to open in the U.S. In typical fashion, the disc has “MADE IN U.S.A. BY LASERVIDEO INC.” stamped in the mirror band. The matrix code is “IRSD17476 W.O. # 8765-1”. The disc bears a large I.R.S. Records logo at 6 o’clock. Beneath the logo is the statement “FOR PROMOTION ONLY”.

It is not known how many copies of the “It’s The End of The World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine)” single were produced, but it was no doubt a limited release. Copies rarely turn up for sale online. Shown below are the front and back inserts along with the promotional disc.

 

REM promo cover_500

The cover for the U.S. promotional CD single of R.E.M. “It’s The End of The World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine)” (I.R.S. (MCA), catalog number CD45-17476). It is a reproduction of the cover for the December 3, 1987 issue of Rolling Stone. The song title is printed along the bottom.

 

REM back insert_500

The back insert for the U.S. promotional CD single of R.E.M. “It’s The End of The World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine)” (I.R.S. (MCA), catalog number CD45-17476). The two tracks, an edit and the LP version of the title track, are listed. There is no barcode, and “FOR PROMOTION ONLY” is printed in the bottom right corner. The back insert is dated 1987 in the bottom left corner.

 

REM promo disc_500

The U.S. promotional CD single of R.E.M. “It’s The End of The World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine)” (I.R.S. (MCA), catalog number CD45-17476). It was pressed by LaserVideo and has ” “MADE IN U.S.A. BY LASERVIDEO INC.” stamped in the mirror band. The matrix code is “IRSD17476 W.O. # 8765-1”. The disc is labeled “FOR PROMOTION ONLY” at 6 o’clock.

Over the years on keithhirsch.com, we’ve discussed variations among early CD releases. A common variation that gets a lot of attention from collectors are CD label designs. Go back and read posts here on the Phonogram labels to see significant early changes to label designs. Some of those early labels are in great demand due to their rarity and aesthetics. Let’s now consider something different.

In some cases, it is the inserts that are changed early to create a different sort of collectible. Let’s consider the original U.S. issue of Elton John’s famous Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. This double album, originally released in 1973, is chock full of hits, including the ever-popular title track, “Bennie and the Jets”, and “Candle In The Wind”. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was one of the first Elton John titles released on CD, with MCA Records releasing it in the U.S. as a two-disc set in 1984. MCA assigned the album catalog number MCAD2-6894, with the ‘2’ before the hyphen denoting it as a two-disc set. Let’s take a deeper look at this release.

As a quick aside, you may be aware that the 1995 Polydor remaster of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is a single disc. Everything is there, so why is the original MCA release a two-disc set? Money was likely a factor (a two-disc set was priced higher than a single-disc release). Another factor may have been manufacturing tolerances. It seems that the record labels were reluctant to push capacity limits of CDs in the early days. There are several cases where a double-vinyl set was first released as a two-CD set and subsequently reissued on one CD (without omitting content). Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is one example. So, the album was originally released on two CDs.

The MCA release of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road with catalog number MCAD2-6894 is a two-disc set issued in two separate jewel cases. Thus, each disc has a front and back insert. This set is typically found with plain pink back inserts. The front inserts show the standard album cover, but the back inserts are pink with just the track list in black. Very plain. The spines also are pink with black text. This is not the original U.S. issue. Copies with the pink back inserts are quite common. An earlier version is rather rare.

The first version of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road issued by MCA has album artwork on the back inserts, resembling the original album jacket. The spine labels are yellow instead of pink. Both versions (full-artwork back inserts and plain pink back inserts) bear the same catalog number — MCAD2-6894. Both types of inserts show DIDX-87 and DIDX-88 on the spines. Importantly, the original back inserts are individualized, meaning that the back insert for Disc 1 lists only the tracks on Disc 1, while the back insert for Disc 2 only lists the tracks on Disc 2. By contrast, the reissue has identical pink back inserts for the two discs, as both back inserts list all tracks on the album. Now, what pressings are found with the different insert types?

Seeing as the original issue with full-album artwork and yellow spines is from 1984, it is only found with Japanese pressings. More specifically, there is a Japanese CBS/Sony pressing and a Japanese JVC pressing associated with the original inserts. Of the two, the CBS/Sony pressing is considerably rarer. For the CBS/Sony pressing, Discs 1 and 2 contain “DIDX-87” and “DIDX-88” in the matrix code, respectively. For the JVC pressing, both discs have the MCA catalog number in the matrix code.

The reissue of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road with pink back inserts can be found with a Japanese JVC pressing or later U.S. pressings. Thus, Japanese JVC pressings spanned both insert types.

For the collector, finding either Japanese pressing with the original, full-album artwork is a great accomplishment. Finding the CBS/Sony pressing is expected to be tougher. Shown below is the cover, a spine, and the back inserts associated with the original, full-album artwork MCA release of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Shown also is a Japanese CBS/Sony pressing and a Japanese JVC pressing.

 

elton goodbye cover_500

The front insert for Disc 1 of the original two-disc U.S. issue of Elton John Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (MCA, catalog number MCAD2-6894).  This is the standard cover artwork for the album. Note “DISC-1” printed in the top left corner. The front insert for the second disc is similarly labeled DISC-2. The later two-disc issue with pink back inserts lacks the DISC-1 and DISC-2 designations on the front inserts.

 

elton goodbye spine_500

A spine label for the original two-disc U.S. issue of Elton John Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (MCA, catalog number MCAD2-6894).  The later and more common two-disc issue has pink spines with black text.

 

elton goodbye disc 1 back insert_500

The back insert for Disc 1 of the original two-disc U.S. issue of Elton John Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (MCA, catalog number MCAD2-6894). There is no barcode. Note the copyright dates of 1973 and 1984 along the bottom. 1973 represents the original release of the album, while 1984 represents the release of this first U.S. version on CD. Only tracks on Disc 1 are listed on this back insert. The common two-disc reissue has a plain pink back insert that lists all album tracks. The pink back insert has a barcode.

 

elton goodbye disc 2 back insert_500

The back insert for Disc 2 of the original two-disc U.S. issue of Elton John Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (MCA, catalog number MCAD2-6894). Only tracks on Disc 2 are listed. There is no barcode. This back insert is also dated 1973 and 1984.

 

elton goodbye disc 1 cbs sony_500

Disc 1 of the original two-disc U.S. issue of Elton John Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (MCA, catalog number MCAD2-6894). This disc was pressed in Japan by CBS/Sony. It has “CSR COMPACT DISC” repeating in the plastic ring, and the matrix code is “DIDX-87 21”. Note “DIDX-87” printed beneath the catalog number at 3 o’clock. Disc 2 pressed by CBS/Sony is similar and has “DIDX-88” in the matrix code. The CBS/Sony pressing of this set is only found with the original full-album artwork and is very rare.

 

elton goodbye disc 2 jvc_500

Disc 2 of the original two-disc U.S. issue of Elton John Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (MCA, catalog number MCAD2-6894). This disc was pressed in Japan by JVC. There is no text stamped on the plastic ring, and the matrix code is “MCAD2 6894 2 M4E11”. This disc does not have the DIDX number printed beneath the catalog number at 3 o’clock (compare to the CBS/Sony pressing above). The catalog number at 3 o’clock is shown as MCAD-2-6894-2, where the 2 at the end represents Disc 2. Disc 1 pressed by JVC is labeled MCAD-2-6894-1 and also has “MCAD2 6894” in the matrix code. Japanese JVC pressings can be found both with the original full-album artwork and the later pink back inserts.

Prince, 1958-2016

2016 has been a difficult year in terms of the significant number of talented musicians who have left us. I will not list them here for fear of omitting someone, though the passing of David Bowie (still hard to believe) was acknowledged here in the form of a short tribute in January. Now sadly, we are dealing with the loss of Prince Rogers Nelson, known the world over of course as Prince. Just 57, Prince was found unresponsive in his Paisley Park home and studio in Chanhassen, Minnesota on April 21st. Shocking. Tragic. A huge loss. It sounds cliche, but it is hard to process.

 

Dearly beloved
We are gathered here today
To get through this thing called life

— “Let’s Go Crazy”, written by Prince

 

I first became aware of Prince as a kid hearing “1999” in 1982. What a sound. It was bold, it was big. The song just sticks in your head. It was funk, rock, and pop at the same time. That was the start, and I became forever a Prince fan in 1984 when Purple Rain was released. Great music, and Prince was so cool. What I did not appreciate then but thankfully learned later was just how talented Prince was. Genius gets thrown around a lot, but I challenge one to argue that Prince wasn’t a genius. From the start, he wrote his music, produced it, and performed it, being a wonderful singer with great range and also an accomplished piano and guitar player. He also danced. He did it all, brilliantly. Prince was also a pioneer of sorts in the way that he fought for ownership and control of his copyrighted music.

 

I never meant to cause you any sorrow
I never meant to cause you any pain
I only wanted to one time to see you laughing
I only wanted to see you
Laughing in the purple rain

— “Purple Rain”, written by Prince

 

R.I.P., Prince.

 

prince purple rain cover_500

 

prince purple rain gold_500

Melissa Manchester established herself as a leading songwriter and female pop/rock vocalist in the 1970s. Her early work included such hits as “Midnight Blue” and “Whenever I Call You “Friend”” (co-written with Kenny Loggins). By the dawn of the CD era, Manchester was still a household name, turning out hits like “You Should Hear How She Talks About You” and “Don’t Cry Out Loud”. Not surprisingly, Manchester’s label, Arista, chose to further capitalize on her success by getting her work out on CD early. Her 1983 compilation, the 10-track Greatest Hits, was one of the first titles released by Arista on CD in the U.S. As such, it bears an early Arista catalog number, ARCD 8004.

Aside from myriad U.S. pressings that hit the shelves over the years, Greatest Hits was released as a Japanese Denon pressing early on. The inserts with this Japanese pressing were printed in the U.S., which is typical for early Arista releases. Although said Denon pressing is a noteworthy collectible from those early days, we highlight here a West German Polygram pressing of Greatest Hits. In my experience, this West German pressing is rarer than the Japanese pressing. A unique feature of this rare pressing is that the accompanying inserts were printed in West Germany, not the U.S. This could mean that the West German Polygram pressing was the first release of Greatest Hits.

As a Polygram pressing, the disc has aluminum running to the center hole rather than a clear plastic ring at the center. The matrix code is “ARCD 8004 2893 367 02”. Shown below are the front and back inserts for the West German Polygram pressing of Greatest Hits, along with the disc.

 

manchester cover_500

The front cover for the West German pressing of Melissa Manchester Greatest Hits (Arista, catalog number ARCD 8004). This is the standard cover artwork for this compilation.

 

manchester back insert_500

The back insert for the West German pressing of Melissa Manchester Greatest Hits (Arista, catalog number ARCD 8004). As noted in the lower left corner, this insert was printed in West Germany. Inserts for early U.S. Arista releases were typically printed in the U.S.

 

manchester wg cd_500

The West German Polygram pressing of Melissa Manchester Greatest Hits (Arista, catalog number ARCD 8004). Instead of a clear plastic ring at the center, this disc shows the typical Polygram plant feature of aluminum running to the center hole. Note that the disc states “Manufactured in West Germany for Arista Records…” at 3 o’clock.  The matrix code is “ARCD 8004 2893 367 02”.

A number of posts here have discussed original CD label designs that were replaced early on by some other designs. In many instances, the original design is viewed as more aesthetic and desirable by collectors. A significant contributor to collector demand is the rarity often associated with the early design. An extreme example is the class of colorful target designs used by WEA that was replaced in the mid-’80s by workaday black text with no paint coating. Target CDs are collectable and sometimes valuable. The later plain pressings, not so much. Here we consider an example of the original design being less aesthetic but still collectable.

EMI started releasing CDs from different genres in 1982, with their releases becoming more widespread in the U.S. and Europe in 1983. The catalog numbers for their early U.S. and European pop, rock, and jazz titles follow the form CDP 7 46XXX 2. The ‘P’ presumably stands for popular. For classical titles, EMI used catalog numbers of the type CDC 7 47XXX 2. In this post, we will discuss these early classical titles.

The earliest EMI classical CDs released in the U.S. and Europe were pressed in Japan. Starting in the mid-’80s, some titles were also pressed in West Germany, Switzerland, the U.K., France, and the U.S. Let’s focus on the Japanese pressings, which were produced by the Toshiba-EMI plant. The earliest Japanese pressings for EMI have a thick black ring along the perimeter, a black EMI logo, black text, and no paint coating. Some of these early pressings show the original Toshiba-EMI “thick” matrix code font. Others show a later “thin” Toshiba-EMI font. These earliest EMI classical titles also have no barcode on the back insert.

By the mid-’80s, EMI changed the label design by adding some color. These later EMI issues, many of which were still pressed in Japan, have a thick red ring along the perimeter, red and black EMI logo, black text, and no paint coating. So EMI transitioned to color, and this label design is very common.

An example of the early all-black EMI label design is brilliant violinist Itzhak Perlman playing Beethoven violin concertos. Perlman is accompanied by the Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Carlo Maria Giulini. This recording was released under catalog number CDC 7 47002 2. The disc has the black ring and black EMI logo, and it can be found with the early thick or later thin Toshiba-EMI matrix code font. The inserts are identical for the two pressings. The thick-font pressing has matrix code “CC38-3007-6 1A2” and “CDC 7 47002 2”, while the thin-font pressing has matrix code “CC38-3007 11A1” and “CDC 7 47002 2”. Both pressings have two groups of matrix code characters that are separated around the plastic ring by 180 degrees. CC38-3007 is the catalog number for the original Japanese CD release of this title. Many of the early Japan-for-U.S./Europe EMI pressings have the Japanese catalog number in the matrix code.

Shown below is the cover artwork and back insert for the early Japan-for-U.S./Europe Beethoven violin concertos pressings, as well as one of the original Japanese pressings.

 

perlman emi cover_500

The cover for Ludwig van Beethoven (Itzhak Perlman, Violin; Philharmonia Orchestra; Carlo Maria Giulini, Conductor) Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D major, Op. 61 (Japan, EMI, catalog number CDC 7 47002 2). The catalog number is printed in the top right corner.

 

perlman emi back insert_500

The back insert for Ludwig van Beethoven (Itzhak Perlman, Violin; Philharmonia Orchestra; Carlo Maria Giulini, Conductor) Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D major, Op. 61 (Japan, EMI, catalog number CDC 7 47002 2). There is no barcode. As noted in the bottom right corner, this insert was printed in Japan.

 

perlman emi disc_500

An early Japanese pressing of Ludwig van Beethoven (Itzhak Perlman, Violin; Philharmonia Orchestra; Carlo Maria Giulini, Conductor) Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D major, Op. 61 (Japan, EMI, catalog number CDC 7 47002 2). The disc was pressed by Toshiba-EMI. This particular disc shows the second thin Toshiba-EMI matrix code font. The matrix code is “CC38-3007 11A1” and “CDC 7 47002 2”.

Next »