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.

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