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!

In the early days of the CD, GRP Records (Grusin-Rosen Productions) quickly established itself as a leading audiophile label of the digital era. Founded in 1978 by Dave Grusin and Larry Rosen, GRP focused on then-contemporary jazz fusion (blend of jazz, rock, and pop). Starting naturally in vinyl and cassettes, GRP embraced digital audio and began releasing CDs in 1983. Like many other labels, GRP often boasted the use of digital recordings. That brings us to our latest featured CD.

Glenn Miller goes digital: GRP’s second CD release in the U.S. was a digital recording of The Glenn Miller Orchestra, (somewhat) appropriately titled “In The Digital Mood”, a punny take on the Miller classic “In The Mood”. This recording was released on CD in 1983 under U.S. catalog number GRP-D-9502. Fittingly, “In The Mood” is the album’s first track. Overall, the recording includes 10 digital recordings by The Glenn Miller Orchestra conducted by Larry O’Brien. The back insert explains the album as follows:

“This album contains the original Glenn Miller arrangements…the only updating was in the method of recording digitally…an aural pleasure created by the melding of yesterday’s music with tomorrow’s technology.”

The back insert also states “FULL DIGITAL RECORDING” above the track list. As was common for 1983, the back insert has no barcode. The first CDs of “In The Digital Mood” to hit the shelves in the U.S. were pressed in Japan by JVC. The copy shown here bears matrix code “VDP 8 1 S10E12”. The portion of the matrix code “VDP 8” represents the catalog number of the original Japanese release of this album. Thus, the first U.S. release was produced from the same glass master as the Japanese issue. Also, the matrix code lacks hyphens separating character groupings, which is an indicator of an early JVC pressing (i.e., “VDP 8 1 S10E12” vs. “VDP-8-1-S10E12”).

Shown below is the cover and back insert for the Japan-for-U.S. pressing of “In The Digital Mood”, along with the Japanese JVC pressing.

 

The cover for the Japan-for-U.S. pressing of The Glenn Miller Orchestra “In The Digital Mood” (GRP, catalog number GRP-D-9502). This is the standard cover artwork for this album.

 

The back insert for the Japan-for-U.S. pressing of The Glenn Miller Orchestra “In The Digital Mood” (GRP, catalog number GRP-D-9502). There is no barcode. The catalog number is printed in the bottom right corner.

 

The Japan-for-U.S. pressing of The Glenn Miller Orchestra “In The Digital Mood” (GRP, catalog number GRP-D-9502). The disc was pressed by JVC, and the matrix code is “VDP 8 1 S10E12”. “VDP 8” is the catalog number for the original Japanese issue of this album. The disc has “Made in Japan” printed along the perimeter at 4 o’clock.

This month, we consider a 1962 jazz album from the ever-popular Blue Note catalog. It is trumpeter Freddie Hubbard’s cleverly titled Hub-Tones. The album, released when Hubbard was just 24 but already well-established, is a five-track effort. Hub-Tones opens with an interpretation of the standard “You’re My Everything” and is followed up by four tracks written by Hubbard himself.

Hub-Tones is a quintet performance, with Hubbard joined by James Spaulding on alto sax and flute, Herbie Hancock on piano, Reginald Workman on bass, and Clifford Jarvis on drums. All five tracks were recorded on October 10, 1962. Like many Blue Note albums of the era, Hub-Tones was recorded by the legendary Rudy Van Gelder and was produced by Alfred Lion.

Blue Note introduced their catalog on CD for the U.S. market in the mid-1980s. Unfortunately for collectors, few of these titles exist as Japanese or West German pressings. Those that do are generally rare. All is not lost, however. Many of these Blue Note albums were initially pressed in the U.S. by LaserVideo. These LaserVideo pressings are also quite rare. For Hub-Tones, we will look at a LaserVideo pressing. There is no Japan-for-U.S. or West German pressing of Hub-Tones.

Hub-Tones was first released in the U.S. under catalog number CDP 7 46507 2. If the catalog number format looks familiar, note that Blue Note is part of Capitol Records. Thus, early Blue Note catalog numbers follow the form of popular Capitol titles such as Dark Side of The Moon (catalog number CDP 7 46001 2). Hub-Tones, like many early Blue Note CDs, was mastered by Ron McMaster. His work is generally well regarded by audiophiles and is characterized by a smooth, natural sound. In fact, McMaster’s masters are often preferred to those in the Blue Note “RVG” remastered series currently in print.

The LaserVideo pressing of Hub-Tones bears the typical Blue Note CD label design that resembles the original LP label. The CD has blue text over aluminum (no paint coating) with “BLUE NOTE” in aluminum characters “cut out” of a blue coating. The disc states “MADE IN U.S.A.” at 8 o’clock. A DIDX number also appears beneath the catalog number even though the disc was not pressed by DADC. This is common for early Blue Note titles. The mirror band contains the matrix code and additional text as follows: “10001 MANUFACTURED IN U.S.A. BY LASERVIDEO INC. CI05531 CDP46507”.

The original U.S. issue of Hub-Tones bearing catalog number CDP 7 46507 2 is common, but the LaserVideo pressing is rare and likely will take some effort to locate. Most used copies to be found are later Capitol-EMI pressings, but the thrill is in the hunt. So keep hunting!

Shown below is the cover and back insert for the original U.S. issue of Hub-Tones, along with the LaserVideo pressing.

 

The cover for the original U.S. issue of Freddie Hubbard Hub-Tones (Blue Note catalog number CDP 7 46507 2). This is the standard cover artwork for this album.

 

The back insert for the original U.S. issue of Freddie Hubbard Hub-Tones (Blue Note catalog number CDP 7 46507 2). The artwork is similar to the back of the original LP jacket. Members of the quintet appear above the track list. The catalog number is printed beneath the Blue Note logo at the top left. Credits for this recording are listed at the bottom right.

 

The LaserVideo pressing of Freddie Hubbard Hub-Tones (Blue Note catalog number CDP 7 46507 2). The label design is typical of early U.S. Blue Note CDs and resembles the original LP label. “MADE IN U.S.A.” is printed at 8 o’clock. The matrix information is “10001 MANUFACTURED IN U.S.A. BY LASERVIDEO INC. CI05531 CDP46507”.

As a collector, I have obtained rare early CD pressings of my favorite albums across many genres. However, collecting also has exposed me to new music, some I had heard of and some previously unknown. In this post, we show an example of new music (new to me) in the latter category. The band is Decameron. Kudos if you had heard of them before reading this post. That is not intended to be a slight of the band. Rather, it is a simple acknowledgement of their obscure status.

Decameron were a folk rock band out of the U.K., forming in 1968. Founding members were Johnny Coppin (guitar, piano, and vocals) and Dave Bell (guitar, percussion, and vocals). Additional members joined in 1969, and the band grew further in the next few years. Between 1973 and 1976, Decameron released five studio albums. Here, we consider their final release, Tomorrow’s Pantomime.

Tomorrow’s Pantomime was released in 1976 by Transatlanic Records. Coppin and Bell are joined by Dik Cadbury, Geoff March, Al Fenn, and Bob Critchley on the album. The album cover is odd, though it follows the album title, showing a mime wearing a space helmet. The album contains 10 songs, all written by Coppin and Bell.

The original CD of Tomorrow’s Pantomime was released in 1989 by Translatlanic in conjuction with German label Line Records. The catalog number for the disc is TACD 9.00775. The disc was pressed by the P+O plant in Diepholz, West Germany. P+O was and still is part of the Pallas Group and continues to press CDs in Diepholz.

The label design of the Tomorrow’s Pantomime disc is unique, though typical of Line CDs. The disc has black text over white “graph paper”. It has a clear plastic ring at the center, and the matrix code is “9.00775 P+O-3127-A 07-89”. “07-89” suggests that the glass master to press this disc was produced in July of 1989. The disc shows a Phonogram date of 1976, the year the album was first issued, and a copyright date of 1989. The disc also states “Manufactured in Western Germany by P + O, Diepholz”. Like the disc, the inserts state Western Germany instead of West Germany.

Shown below are the front and back covers of the Tomorrow’s Pantomime booklet, the back insert, and the West German pressing.

 

The cover for the West German pressing of Decameron Tomorrow’s Pantomime (Translatlantic/Line catalog number TACD 9.00775). This is the standard cover artwork for this album.

 

The back cover of the booklet for the West German pressing of Decameron Tomorrow’s Pantomime (Translatlantic/Line catalog number TACD 9.00775). The six-member lineup of Decameron is shown. Note the catalog number printed in the top right corner.

 

The back insert for the West German pressing of Decameron Tomorrow’s Pantomime (Translatlantic/Line catalog number TACD 9.00775). There is no barcode. The catalog number is printed in the top right corner. The insert states “Manufactured and printed in Western Germany” along the bottom.

 

The West German pressing of Decameron Tomorrow’s Pantomime (Translatlantic/Line catalog number TACD 9.00775). The “graph paper” label design is typical of CDs released by Line Records. The catalog number is shown at 3 o’clock, and a copyright date of 1989 is printed below the catalog number. The disc states “Manufactured in Western Germany by P + O, Diepholz” below the CD format logo. The matrix code is “9.00775 P+O-3127-A 07-89”.

With this post, we consider the person who brought the tenor saxophone to the forefront in jazz and arguably the best tenor saxophonist of all time. Coleman Hawkins. For nearly 40 years, Hawkins continued to break new ground with the tenor sax and in jazz in general. His influence is unquestioned.

When reviewing Hawkins’ extensive recording catalog, among the titles that are typically considered as staples are The Genius of Coleman Hawkins, The Hawk Flies High, and Duke Ellington Meets Coleman Hawkins. Great titles all, we explore another Hawkins effort here.

The Village Gate was a legendary nightclub in Greenwich Village, New York. Opened in 1958, it hosted many jazz greats, including Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Bill Evans, John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, and yes, Coleman Hawkins. In 1963, Verve Records released Hawkins! Alive! At The Village Gate. The album highlights sessions recorded by a Hawkins-led quartet on August 13th and 15th, 1962. Joining Hawkins are Tommy Flanagan on piano, Major Holley on bass, and Ed Locke on drums.

The LP of Hawkins! Alive! At The Village Gate contained four tracks, “All The Things You Are”, “Joshua Fit The Battle of Jericho”, “Mack The Knife”, and “Talk of the Town”. Moving to the original CD featured here, two tracks previously unreleased were added — “Bean and the Boys” and “If I Had You”.

Verve first released Hawkins! Alive! At The Village Gate on CD in 1986. Here we will focus on a Japanese issue from that year. This Japanese CD was released under catalog number 829 260-2. This catalog number was also used in the U.S. and Europe, which makes the Japanese release unusual. Typically, Japanese CD releases have unique catalog numbers, but Polydor in the early days often used the U.S./European catalog number on its Japanese jazz titles. Verve existed under the Polydor umbrella in 1986.

As a Japanese issue, the booklet for Hawkins! Alive! At The Village Gate has liner notes printed in Japanese at the front and then printed in English at the back. The back insert shows a Japanese retail price of ¥ 3,300, which was in the typical range for a CD in Japan in 1986. Another indicator of a Japanese issue, the disc and inserts refer to “POLYDOR K.K.” The “K.K.” stands for Kabushiki Kaisha, which translates loosely to “stock corporation”.

The Hawkins CD was pressed by JVC, and the matrix code is “J33J-25007-S1E1”. J33J-25007 is the catalog number of another early Japanese issue of the album, typically cited as having been released in 1987.

Shown below is the cover and back insert for the Japanese issue of Hawkins! Alive! At The Village Gate, along with the JVC pressing.

 

The cover for the early Japanese issue of Coleman Hawkins Hawkins! Alive! At The Village Gate (Verve, catalog number 829 260-2). This is the standard cover artwork for this album.

 

The back insert for the early Japanese issue of Coleman Hawkins Hawkins! Alive! At The Village Gate (Verve, catalog number 829 260-2). As noted, this release contains the four original tracks for this album and two that were previously unreleased. The performers are listed at the top. Note the Japanese text and the price of ¥ 3,300 printed along the bottom.

 

The Japanese JVC pressing of Coleman Hawkins Hawkins! Alive! At The Village Gate (Verve, catalog number 829 260-2). The matrix code is “J33J-25007-S1E1”. J33J-25007 is the catalog number for a Japanese CD release from 1987.

2018 is almost here, so Happy New Year!  As we usher in a new year on keithhirsch.com, let’s consider a legendary popular music group. Formed in the late 1950s, The Kingston Trio led the charge to bring folk music into the spotlight. The group was formed by Dave Guard, Nick Reynolds, and Bob Shane. Their guitar/banjo playing and harmonies made classic folk songs suddenly pop hits. Beyond the quality and popularity of their music and commercial success, one has to look at The Kingston Trio’s influence as their lasting legacy. By helping to put folk music on the map, folk artists, that followed, including The Weavers, Peter, Paul & Mary, and Bob Dylan, were given a roadmap to secure record contracts and themselves influence the direction of popular music in the 1960s.

The Kingston Trio maintained their popularity into the early 1960s with hits such as “Tom Dooley”, “The Tijuana Tail”, and “Lemon Tree”. However, as folk music became more political with the leanings of Dylan and Peter, Paul & Mary, coupled with The British Invasion and other leading rock acts like The Beach Boys vying for the attention of the youth movement, the Trio’s popularity began to slip. The group finally disbanded in 1967. However, their aforementioned influence was indisputable. Many acts of the 1960s owed a debt of gratitude to The Kingston Trio and likely found a part of them in their own music.

Over the years, fans of The Kingston Trio were able to continue enjoying their music with the release of various compilations. One such hits album was released by Capitol Records in 1987, simply titled The Very Best of The Kingston Trio. This compilation, containing 15 tracks, was released on CD in the U.S. under catalog CDP 7 46624 2. The three hits mentioned in the previous paragraph appear on The Very Best of, as does the Trio’s cover of Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” and their recording of “Where Have All The Flowers Gone”. (Although The Kingston Trio was largely identified as being apolitical, the recording of these two tracks does show their recognition of the trend of folk music becoming a political sounding board in the early ’60s.)

To get started with CDs in the U.S. in the ’80s, Capitol farmed out production to a number of plants, including JVC in Japan and DADC in the U.S. In the late ’80s, Capitol opened their own plant in Jacksonville, Florida. A somewhat oddball issue of The Very Best of The Kingston Trio is featured here. The disc was pressed in the U.S. by Nimbus. Nimbus pressings of Capitol titles are uncommon. The Trio disc bears the simple matrix code “46624 (V) :”. The disc also has the “MASTERED BY NIMBUS” etched in the mirror band. The first Nimbus plant opened in the U.K. in 1985, and this Kingston Trio looks much like a U.K. Nimbus pressing. However, it does have “MADE IN U.S.A.” printed at 4 o’clock. The close resemblance of U.S. and U.K. Nimbus pressings is typical. The Kingston Trio inserts were printed in the U.S.

Shown below is the cover and back insert for The Very Best of The Kingston Trio, along with the U.S. Nimbus pressing.

 

The cover for The Very Best of The Kingston Trio (Capitol, catalog number CDP 7 46624 2). Shown from left to right are Bob Shane, John Stewart, and Nick Reynolds. Stewart replaced founding member Dave Guard in 1961.

 

The back insert for The Very Best of The Kingston Trio (Capitol, catalog number CDP 7 46624 2). The catalog number is printed in the top right corner.

 

The U.S. Nimbus pressing The Very Best of The Kingston Trio (Capitol, catalog number CDP 7 46624 2). The matrix code is “46624 (V) :” The text “MASTERED BY NIMBUS” also appears in the mirror band. Note that “MADE IN U.S.A.” is printed at 4 o’clock.

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.

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