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!

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A popular subset of early CD pressings among collectors are those released by EMI primarily in the U.S. and Europe bearing a colored paint coating on the label side.  These CDs were pressed in Japan or West Germany.  Common colors for these discs are red and black (one color to a CD, not combinations).  An example of a disc with the red paint coating is the Japanese pressing of Queen Greatest Hits (EMI, catalog number CDP 7 46033 2).  A very popular disc with the black paint coating is the Japanese pressing of Pink Floyd The Dark Side of the Moon (Harvest/EMI, catalog number CDP 7 46001 2).  Although red and black were typical, a handful of early EMI discs were produced with unique color coatings.  One such CD is the original West German pressing of Iron Maiden Powerslave released on the EMI label under catalog number CDP 7 46045 2.  Let’s explore this album and CD a little further.

Powerslave is arguably Iron Maiden’s best and most successful album.  It contains such classics as “Aces High”, “2 Minutes to Midnight”, and the excellent adaptation of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”.  The release of Powerslave in September of 1984 coincided with market penetration of the CD beginning to expand across the globe.  As such, EMI wasted little time releasing the popular album on CD in various markets.  As alluded to above, the original U.S. and European release was a West German pressing.  To fit the album artwork’s pseudo-Egyptian motif, EMI assigned a bronze paint coating to this West German pressing.*  No other EMI title was issued with the bronze coating.

The bronze-painted Powerslave CD was pressed by Polygram.  As such, there is no clear plastic ring at the center.  The matrix code for this pressing is “746 045-2 2893 919 02 #”.  As an early release, the back insert does not have a barcode.  This original West German pressing is quite rare and very popular with collectors, as it typically draws many bids in online auctions.  Shown below are pictures of the Powerslave cover, back insert, spine label, and CD associated with this early release.

* A later and far more common West German pressing also exists under catalog number CDP 7 46045 2.  This CD was pressed by the Sonopress plant, has no color paint coating (i.e., black text with an aluminum background), and has a clear plastic ring at the center.

 

The cover for the original West German pressing of Iron Maiden Powerslave (EMI, catalog number CDP 7 46045 2).

 

The back insert for the original West German pressing of Iron Maiden Powerslave (EMI, catalog number CDP 7 46045 2).  Note that there is no barcode.  Although difficult to read, “Made in West Germany” is printed in white in the lower right corner.

 

A spine label for the original West German pressing of Iron Maiden Powerslave (EMI, catalog number CDP 7 46045 2).

 

The original West German pressing of Iron Maiden Powerslave (EMI, catalog number CDP 7 46045 2).  The disc was pressed by Polygram, and the matrix code is “746 045-2 2893 919 02 #”.  Note that the disc has “Made in West Germany” printed at 9 o’clock.  This is the only early CD released by EMI with the bronze paint coating.

It’s been 30 years.  On October 1, 1982, the Compact Disc, or simply the CD, was commercialized in Japan by Sony.  The CD was several years in the making, with Philips and Sony developing their own digital music disc technology starting in the 1970s.  They finally settled on the Redbook CD Standard, which set the specifications for the CD we have come to know.  Key specs. are an approximately 5″ diameter and encoding in 16-bit/44.1 kHz resolution.

30 years ago today, Sony commercialized a collection of rock, pop, jazz, and classical music titles.  A key series of CDs released that day was the 35DP series of rock, pop, and jazz titles.  The “35” represents the retail price of ¥3,500.  The “D” stands for digital.  The “P” stands for popular, as in popular music.  The first title in the 35DP series, appropriately assigned catalog number 35DP 1, was Billy Joel’s 1978 blockbuster, 52nd Street.

There is something special about the original CDs that Sony released in Japan 30 years ago.  As expected, aluminum was used as the reflective material for the earliest pressings.  However, the label side has a gold tone.  The play side is the standard silver color of aluminum.  Sony presumably added a dye to produce the gold color on the label side.  These first CDs with the gold tone are quite rare and highly sought after by collectors.  They were quickly replaced by CDs with the standard silver tone on the label side.  The gold-tone pressing 52nd Street is shown below.

So, Happy Birthday to the CD.  Although downloads are replacing CDs as the preferred digital format for many listeners, CD technology continues to evolve on the mastering side and the playback side.  30 years later, music lovers and audiophiles continue to be treated to many quality CD releases.  Here’s hoping CD aficionados are treated to many more for years to come.

 

The first Japanese CD issue of Billy Joel 52nd Street (CBS/Sony, catalog number 35DP 1).  This particular CD is a rare original pressing from 1982 with a gold tone on the label side of the disc.  The disc has “MANUFACTURED BY CBS/SONY RECORDS INC.” stamped on the plastic ring.  The matrix code is “35DP-1-2 1A2” and is stamped in the original CBS/Sony plant crude font.  Later pressings of 52nd Street under catalog number 35DP 1 have the conventional silver tone on the label side.

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One of the ubiquitous Japanese CD pressing plants on the scene in the early days of the format was Denon, aka Nippon Columbia.  In addition to pressing CDs for their own jazz and classical music labels, Denon was contracted to produce 5″ digital discs for numerous other labels, including MCA, RCA, and A&M.  Of interest to the collector is a change in Denon’s matrix code format early on that led to pressing variations for selected titles.  These variations are the focus of this post.

Most Japanese Denon pressings are found with a matrix code font that resembles that of a dot-matrix printer (Remember those?).  In fact, the majority of titles pressed by Denon are only found with this matrix code font.  Let’s call the dot-matrix pressing “Standard”.  However, titles pressed in 1982 and ’83 can be found with the matrix code pressed crudely into the plastic ring at the center of the disc.  Let’s call this pressing type “Early”.  Of course, by denoting a pressing “Early”, we are using it relative to the Standard Denon pressing.  In terms of the CD era, the Standard pressings are still early.  It’s all relative.  Confused yet?  Hopefully not.

Many titles found as Early Denon pressings also exist as Standard pressings.  That is, some titles were pressed in Japan by Denon long enough to go through the matrix code format change.  These variations can be found for a handful of A&M titles released in the U.S.  One such example is Cat Stevens’ 1970 classic, Tea for the TillermanTea for the Tillerman was released on CD in the U.S. by A&M under catalog number CD-4280.

The first version of Tea for the Tillerman to hit store shelves in the U.S. was the Early Japanese Denon pressing.  Thus, the matrix code is stamped in a crude font onto the center plastic ring.  Further evidence that this is a particularly early issue is that the inserts were printed in Japan and not the U.S. (even though many record labels had CDs pressed in Japan for the U.S. market early on, it is common to find the inserts printed in the U.S.).  Additionally, the back insert with this Early Denon pressing has no barcode.  This is a very rare version of Tea for the Tillerman.

The second and much more common version of Tea for the Tillerman is the Standard Japanese Denon pressing.  This CD has the matrix code stamped on the aluminum mirror band bordering the plastic ring in the dot-matrix font.  The inserts with this pressing were printed in the U.S., and there is a barcode on the back insert.

As stated above, these Denon pressing variations exist for other titles released in the U.S. by A&M.  Examples are Squeeze Singles — 45’s and Under and The Police Zenyatta Mondatta.  In my experience, the Standard Denon pressing is always the easier one to find.  It would seem that the Early pressings were issued in limited numbers, meaning that the switch to the Standard pressings occurred soon after these titles hit the market.  If you find a Standard Denon pressing, you still have found an uncommon disc.  However, an Early Denon pressing is a proverbial needle in a haystack.

Shown below are the Early and Standard Japanese Denon pressings of Tea for the Tillerman, along with the accompanying back inserts.

 

The “Early” Japanese Denon plant pressing of Cat Stevens Tea for the Tillerman (A&M, catalog number CD-4280).   Note the Denon manufacturing credit at 6 o’clock.   Looking closely at the disc, the matrix code is stamped on the outer edge of the plastic ring at the center.  The matrix code is “CD 4280 A-22”.  The “CD 4280” and “A-22” portions of the matrix code are separated by 180 degrees.  This disc is very rare.

 

The “Standard” Japanese Denon plant pressing of Cat Stevens Tea for the Tillerman (A&M, catalog number CD-4280).  The matrix code is stamped on the aluminum mirror band bordering the plastic ring in a dot-matrix font.  The matrix code is “CD-4280 2A1 59”.  The “CD-4280” and “2A1 59” portions of the matrix code are separated by 180 degrees.  Other than the matrix code, this disc is identical in appearance to the Early pressing above.

 

The back insert for the Early Japanese Denon plant pressing of Cat Stevens Tea for the Tillerman (A&M, catalog number CD-4280).  As noted along the bottom edge, this insert was printed in Japan.  There is no barcode.

 

The back insert for the Standard Japanese Denon plant pressing of Cat Stevens Tea for the Tillerman (A&M, catalog number CD-4280).  As noted along the bottom edge, this insert was printed in the U.S.  A barcode appears on the right side.

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In the midst of the Summer of Love and Haight-Ashbury emanated a band from Southern California with very different music and, more importantly, a very different message. Enter The Doors, led by singer, crooner, rabble-rouser, and any of a number of other descriptors, Jim Morrison. Joined by drummer John Densmore, guitarist Robby Krieger, and keyboardist Ray Manzarek, The Doors crafted a unique sound and imagery unheard of before or since the quartet’s short run between 1967 and 1971. It all started in ’67 with the now-classic self-titled debut album, released originally on mono or stereo LP by Elektra Records.

The Doors (referring to the album here, but the same could be said for the band) is best known for the mega-hit “Light My Fire”. However, the album also produced the hit “Break on Through (To The Other Side)”, which as track 1, appropriately set the stage for Morrison and the band as a whole. The album, also fittingly, ends with the 11-minute-plus twisting story/reading/diatribe “The End”. Suffice it to say, “The End” turned heads and made it clear that The Doors were not merely a band. In total, The Doors offered 11 quality tracks and remains an artistic staple of the 1960s.

Moving ahead, in 1984 and ’85, Elektra released most of The Doors’ studio albums on CD (The Soft Parade did not debut on CD until the catalog was remastered in 1988). The debut album first appeared on CD under catalog number 74007-2. As an early CD release from WEA (of which Elektra was part), there are Japanese and West German Target pressings of The Doors.

The West German Target pressing of The Doors bears the typical Elektra color combination — a silver target with an orange paint coating. When it comes to the text and logos displayed on the disc, we get variations for the collector to consider. The West German Target is most often found with silver text and silver Elektra and compact disc format logos. However, there is a very rare variation with black text and black logos. The two pressings can be found with identical inserts printed in West Germany.

The two pressing variations can also be found with the same matrix code — “7559 74007-2 2893 222 01”. It is not clear if the black-text pressing was a mistake or a test pressing. Regardless, it is very hard to find.

Shown below is the cover and back insert for the West German Target CD of The Doors, along with the rare black-text pressing.

(It is worth pointing out that the same text-color variations of The Doors 1970 album Morrison Hotel also exist, but the rarity is reversed. For Morrison Hotel, the pressing with black text is common and the pressing with silver text is very rare. The rare silver-text pressing of Morrison Hotel will be featured here in another post down the road.)

 

The cover for the West German Target CD pressing of The Doors (Elektra, catalog number 74007-2). The Gold Record Award notation on the right side was removed from subsequent remastered CDs issued in the U.S.

 

The back insert for the West German Target CD pressing of The Doors (Elektra, catalog number 74007-2). As noted on the right side, this insert was printed in West Germany. Note that there is no barcode.

 

The rare black-text West German Target CD of The Doors (Elektra, catalog number 74007-2). 242 012 is the European catalog number for this CD. As noted along the perimeter, this disc was pressed in West Germany by Polygram. The matrix code is “7559 74007-2 2893 222 01”. The common West German Target CD of The Doors has the text, Elektra logo, and compact disc format logo printed in silver.

By the latter half of the 1980s, many consumers began replacing their cassettes and records for the convenience of the compact disc.  More CD players were available from major electronics manufacturers, and prices of these players were coming down.  Sony had even introduced portable CD players by the late ’80s.  With the increased demand for CDs, CD pressing plants popped up around the world.  No more was it necessary in the U.S. to rely on the original plants in Japan and West Germany for import pressings.  CBS in conjunction with Sony opened Digital Audio Disc Corporation in Terre Haute, Indiana in late 1984 as the first CD pressing plant in the U.S.  Other plants opened in the U.S. in short order.

In October of 1986, the LaserVideo pressing plant opened in Huntsville, Alabama.  To commemorate the opening of the plant, LaserVideo appropriately issued a very rare promotional version of the 1986 album by country juggernaut Alabama entitled The TouchThe Touch was released on CD in 1986 on the RCA label under catalog number 5649-2-R.  CDs of The Touch first arrived on store shelves in 1986 as a Japanese pressing, but U.S. pressings turned up soon thereafter.

The LaserVideo commemorative CD of The Touch was issued with standard RCA inserts pressed in the U.S.   The disc, however, contains a unique label design and is labeled a promotional copy.  Importantly, the disc states “First CD Manufactured in Huntsville, Alabama USA by LaserVideo, Inc.”  It is dated October 1986.  The disc also states “Commemorates the Opening of our new Compact Disc Plant in Huntsville, Alabama”.  As a nice “touch”, “Alabama” in this statement is shown as the band’s logo.

It is not known how many commemorative copies were actually pressed, but this is the only copy I have come across.  If you find a used copy of The Touch, it is worth checking the disc.  Chances are you will find the Japanese pressing or a later commercial U.S. pressing, but you don’t know until you check the disc.

Shown below are the inserts for The Touch as well as the commemorative LaserVideo pressing.

 

The cover for Alabama The Touch (RCA, catalog number 5649-2-R).  Note the RCA CD logo in the bottom right corner.

 

The back insert for the original CD issue of Alabama The Touch (RCA, catalog number 5649-2-R).  As noted in the bottom right corner, the insert was printed in the U.S.  The catalog number is printed in the top left corner.

 

The LaserVideo commemorative pressing of Alabama The Touch (RCA, catalog number 5649-2-R).  The disc is labeled as the first CD manufactured by the LaserVideo pressing plant.  Note that it is dated October 1986 and is also labeled as a promotional issue.  The disc has “MASTERED IN U.S.A. BY LASERVIDEO INC.” etched in the mirror band.  The matrix code is “CI05279 -0- 5649-2-R”.

Back in March, a rare Sony promotional CD entitled Compact Disc Demonstration Vol. 1 was posted here.  This disc was released in Japan under catalog number YEDS 4 to help promote the CD format (click Just Pills Order Tramadol Online for details).  At that time, I stated there was a Volume 2.  Well, here it is.  In 1982, Sony released Compact Disc Demonstration Vol. 2 in Japan under catalog number YEDS 5.

Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 are similar in content and presentation.  All tracks on Vol. 1 are digital recordings, while Vol. 2 has a mix of digital and analog recordings.  The analog tracks on Vol. 2 are labeled “Digital Mastering”.

Like its predecessor, Compact Disc Demonstration Vol. 2 is comprised of jazz and classical music tracks (12 tracks in total).  This is a promotional issue, as the disc states “NOT FOR SALE”.  The inserts are less forceful and state “Not for Sale”.

As expected for an early Sony issue, the CD was pressed at the CBS/Sony plant in Japan.  The disc has no text stamped on the plastic ring (not uncommon for early CBS/Sony pressings), and the matrix code is “YEDS-5-1 1A6”.  The matrix code is stamped in the original CBS/Sony plant crude font.  The copy featured here came in the original jewel case with smooth top and bottom edges and “Patent pending” embossed on the back.

In my experience, Compact Disc Demonstration Vol. 2 is rare, but not as rare as Vol. 1.  Perhaps more copies of Vol. 2 were pressed to coincide with greater interest in the CD format.

Shown below are pictures of the Compact Disc Demonstration Vol. 2 cover, back insert, spine label, and CD.

 

The cover for the early Japanese Sony promotional sampler CD, Compact Disc Demonstration Vol. 2 (catalog number YEDS 5).  The same artwork was used for the preceding Vol. 1 (catalog number YEDS 4).

 

The back insert for the early Japanese Sony promotional sampler CD, Compact Disc Demonstration Vol. 2 (catalog number YEDS 5).  The track list is presented in both English and Japanese.  Note the statement “Not for Sale” printed in the bottom left corner.  The insert is dated 1982.  This artwork minus the track list was used for the back cover of the booklet.  Similar artwork was used for the Vol. 1 back insert (catalog number YEDS 4).

 

A spine label for the early Japanese Sony promotional sampler CD, Compact Disc Demonstration Vol. 2 (catalog number YEDS 5).

 

The early Japanese Sony promotional sampler CD, Compact Disc Demonstration Vol. 2 (catalog number YEDS 5).  The disc has no text stamped on the clear plastic ring, and the matrix code is “YEDS-5-1 1A6″.  The matrix code is stamped in a crude font typical of early Japanese CBS/Sony pressings.  The disc is labeled “NOT FOR SALE” at 6 o’clock and is dated 1982.

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ABBA, the Swedish pop quartet, enjoyed great international success in the 1970s and early 1980s.  Through those years, ABBA turned out hit after bold pop hit, including “Dancing Queen”, “Take a Chance on Me”, and “Knowing Me, Knowing You”.  With an incredible run of chart toppers for nearly a decade, there was demand for ABBA on CD in the early days of the format.  Fortunately, the record labels that owned the rights to the ABBA catalog obliged ABBA fans and audiophiles alike.

In the early 1980s, the ABBA catalog was controlled in Europe and Japan by the Polydor and Polar labels, part of the Phonogram group.  Polydor and Polar released many ABBA albums on CD, including compilations, in Europe starting in 1982.  These CDs were pressed in West Germany by the Polygram plant.  In fact, it is widely believed that the first commercial CD pressed by Polygram was ABBA’s 1981 album, The Visitors, released by Polydor under catalog number 800 011-2.  The earliest West German pressings of The Visitors with an orange paint coating are highly desirable.  Other early West German ABBA pressings on the Polydor and Polar labels are highly sought after as well.

At the time that CDs were introduced in North America, the ABBA catalog was controlled by Atlantic Records (part of WEA, Warner-Elektra-Atlantic).  However, the rights to the catalog switched to Polydor shortly thereafter.  Atlantic only released three ABBA albums on CD in the U.S.: the 1980 blockbuster Super Trouper, and the compilations, Greatest Hits and Greatest Hits Vol. 2.  The two compilations exist as West German Target and U.S. Non-Target pressings, while Super Trouper exists only as a U.S. Non-Target pressing.

Among the Atlantic ABBA CDs issued in the U.S., Super Trouper is the rarest.  Since it only exists as a U.S. Non-Target pressing, it appears as though Super Trouper was released shortly before the transfer of the ABBA catalog from Atlantic to Polydor.  The Atlantic Super Trouper CD was released in 1985 or ’86 (unfortunately, the CD and accompanying inserts do not specify a copyright date pertaining to the CD release).

Super Trouper was pressed in the U.S. at WEA’s Specialty Records Corporation (SRC) plant.  This CD was released in the U.S. under catalog number 16023-2.  Particularly noteworthy is a very rare Canadian issue released under catalog number CD 16023.  This disc was also pressed in the U.S. at the SRC plant, and while similar in appearance to the U.S. issue, bears some important differences.  The Canadian release also has unique inserts.

The U.S. issue of Super Trouper is quite rare, and the Canadian issue appears to be even rarer.  Considering their rarity and the great interest in ABBA that remains to this day, collectors typically pay a significant premium for these Super Trouper CDs.

Shown below are the inserts and CD for the Canadian Atlantic issue of Super Trouper.

 

The cover for the Canadian issue of ABBA Super Trouper (Atlantic, catalog number CD 16023).  The same cover is found with other CD issues released over the years.

 

The back insert for the Canadian issue of ABBA Super Trouper (Atlantic, catalog number CD 16023).  Note the Canadian copyright paragraph at the bottom.

 

A spine label for the Canadian issue of ABBA Super Trouper (Atlantic, catalog number CD 16023).  Note that the font used for the catalog number does not match the font used for the rest of the text.  This is because the spine label was first designed for the U.S. issue, and the typeset was later modified for the Canadian issue by changing the catalog number.  The U.S. catalog number is 16023-2.

 

The Canadian issue of ABBA Super Trouper (Atlantic, catalog number CD 16023).   Note the WEA Canada statement beneath the CD format logo at 3 o’clock.  Although the disc does not state where it was made, inspection of the matrix code reveals it to be a U.S. SRC plant pressing.  The matrix code is “3 16023-2 SRC-01”.   The same matrix code is found on the U.S. issue.

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George Michael established himself in the first half of the 1980s as the brilliant songwriter and singer of the archetypal pop group of the era, Wham!  When Wham! broke up in 1986, Michael planned on going solo.   His solo career started in 1987 with release of the blockbuster album, Faith, which featured Michael’s versatility as a songwriter with sounds ranging from pop to R&B to adult contemporary.  The album featured hits, including the title track and the suggestive and controversial, “I Want Your Sex”.  While Wham! made people aware of George Michael’s talents, Faith cemented him as a star with top billing.

Faith was released on the Columbia label, part of CBS Records, in 1987 on LP, cassette, and CD.  With the CD gaining popularity in the U.S. by 1987, and in anticipation of Michael’s solo debut, CBS chose to issue a promotional CD of Faith in advance of the mainstream, commercial release.  This promotional issue was released under catalog number CSK 2850.  Although the musical content on the promotional CD is identical to that of the 1987 commercial release, the promotional issue has some unique features.

There are two pressings of the promotional CD that differ by their label design.  Both versions were pressed at the Shape Optimedia pressing plant in the U.S.  One version has an electric blue coating with the text “cut out” of the blue and showing through from the underneath aluminum (sort of a stencil effect).  The other pressing has blue text and no color coating (i.e., aluminum background).  The two discs have identical inserts, and it is not clear whether there is any significance to the pressing variations (e.g., methods of distribution, intended recipients, etc.).  The commercial Faith CD has black text with no color coating.

Another interesting feature of this promotional issue (used with both pressing variants) is the inclusion of a holographic insert in front of the front paper insert.  The front paper insert is merely a single sheet of paper that shows the same cover artwork as the commercial release of Faith (although the commerical release adds a CD format logo in the bottom right corner that is absent from the promotional release).  A piece of clear plastic in front of the paper insert reveals a holographic image of the text “GEORGE MICHAEL” and “FAITH” when held at the right angle in good lighting.   The commercial release of Faith does not include the holographic insert.

These promotional versions of Faith are very rare in my experience.  When locating a used copy of Faith in a store, the promotional and commerical issues can be readily distinguished by inspection of the spine label.  First, the promotional issue states “GEORGE MICHAEL” but does not show the album title.  The commercial issue shows GEORGE MICHAEL and the album title on the spine.  Second, and as stated above, the two issues have different catalog numbers.  The catalog number for the promotional issue is CSK 2850.  The catalog number of the commercial CD is CK 40867.

Shown below are the front and back inserts and a spine label for the promotional issue of Faith, along with both pressing variations.

 

The cover for the promotional CD issue of George Michael Faith (Columbia, catalog number CSK 2850).  The cover artwork is the same as that used for the commerical CD release except that the commerical release has a CD format logo in the bottom right corner.  This promotional issue has a plastic holographic insert in front of the paper insert that reveals the text “GEORGE MICHAEL” and “FAITH” in proper lighting.  Although the holographic text cannot be read in this picture, note the color streaks from the holographic insert.

 

The back insert for the promotional CD issue of George Michael Faith (Columbia, catalog number CSK 2850).  The artwork is similar to that found for the back insert issued with the commercial CD.  Note, however, that the promotional back insert lacks a barcode and includes the text “DEMONSTRATION — NOT FOR SALE” in the top right corner.

 

A spine label for the promotional CD issue of George Michael Faith (Columbia, catalog number CSK 2850).  Note that the album title is not included.

 

The two pressing variants for the promotional CD issue of George Michael Faith (Columbia, catalog number CSK 2850).  The first one has an electric blue coating and “aluminum” text, a stencil-like effect created by “cutting out” the letters from the blue coating to reveal the background aluminum.  The second one has blue text with no paint coating.  Both discs have “Demonstration — Not for Sale” printed along the bottom.  The two discs were pressed at the Shape Optimedia plant in the U.S. and bear the same matrix code — “CBS-CSK2850 SOI01”.  The disc with the electric blue coating has the text “SHAPE OPTIMEDIA, INC.” and “MADE IN USA” stamped on the clear plastic ring at the center.  The disc with no paint coating has no text stamped on the plastic ring.  The commercial CD of Faith (Columbia, catalog number CK 40867) has black text and no color coating.

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