A fun part of collecting early CDs is the challenge of finding particularly rare pressings or pressing variations. For some titles, there are multiple early Japanese or West German pressings for the completist to track down. How did this come about? Well, back in the early days of the format, CD pressing plants had limited production capabilities. As a result, popular titles were often produced at more than one plant, possibly in more than one country, to meet the demand. Let’s get to a specific case — the original Carpenters compilation, The Singles 1969-1973. Considering the original U.S. CD release by A&M (catalog number CD-3601), there are four different Japanese pressings and West German PolyGram and PDO pressings.

The U.S. issue of The Singles 1969-1973 was pressed in Japan by CBS/Sony, Denon, JVC, and Matsushita. All of these pressings bear catalog number CD-3601. In my experience, there are variations in where the inserts were printed among these pressings as follows:

  • CBS/Sony: Booklet printed in the U.S., back insert printed in Japan
  • Denon and JVC: Booklet and back insert printed in the U.S.
  • Matsushita: Booklet and back insert printed in Japan

From the above list, one could assume that the Matsushita pressing came first, the CBS/Sony pressing came next, and the Denon and JVC pressings were released later. This cannot be confirmed, but it is a reasonable supposition.

Another interesting consideration for early pressings of The Singles 1969-1973 is that early pressings, Japanese, West German, and early U.S. DADC, are found with sped-up versions of “Superstar”, “Rainy Days and Mondays”, and “Goodbye to Love” and the original single mix of “Yesterday Once More”.  So with this title, the collector has the challenge of finding a number of rare early pressings, all of which have unique content.

For the remainder of this post, we consider the Japanese Matsushita pressing of The Singles 1969-1973. The disc has the telltale signs of an early Matsushita pressing. It has “MADE BY MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC IND.CO.LTD.” and the Technics logo stamped on the clear plastic ring, and the matrix code is simply “3601 2”. The matrix code looks like handwriting. The disc has “MADE IN JAPAN” printed at 5 o’clock. As stated earlier in this post, the booklet and back insert were printed in Japan. There is no barcode on the back insert.

In my experience, all Japan-for-U.S. pressings of The Singles 1969-1973 are rare, but the Matsushita and CBS/Sony pressings are the rarest of the four. If you are a collector, grab any Japanese pressing you can find, as they all have the unique content mentioned above. With persistence, you should be able to find all four searching online and in used CD shops.

Shown below are the cover and back insert for The Singles 1969-1973, along with the Japanese Matsushita pressing.

 

The cover for the Japanese Matsushita pressing of The Singles 1969-1973 (A&M, catalog number CD-3601). This is the standard cover artwork for this compilation. The back page of the front insert indicates that it was printed in Japan.

 

The back insert for the Japanese Matsushita pressing of The Singles 1969-1973 (A&M, catalog number CD-3601). There is no barcode. As noted along the bottom, this insert was printed in Japan.

 

The Japanese Matsushita pressing of The Singles 1969-1973 (A&M, catalog number CD-3601). The disc has MADE BY MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC IND.CO.LTD.” and the Technics logo stamped on the clear plastic ring. The matrix code is “3601 2”. “MADE IN JAPAN” is printed at 5 o’clock.

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