June 29th, 2008
In the early days of the CD, the Phonogram family of labels included Polydor, RSO, Vertigo, Mercury, Rocket, and Casablanca, to name a few. Original discs on these labels were pressed in West Germany and were afforded unique, and often attractive, label designs. Of particular interest to the collector was that each label went through a redesign while having discs pressed in West Germany, sometimes more than one redesign. This post starts a series that will show pictures of various collectable designs used for West German pressings of the Phonogram labels. Here, we start with The Rocket Record Company, home to original European CD issues of several landmark Elton John albums.
A common design found for West German pressings on Rocket is the “train label”, which is shown below for the Elton John album 21 at 33. This design was likely used until the late ’80s. An earlier design, also shown below for 21 at 33, has a more basic design of blue text on a purple paint coating. One last Rocket design is the “watermelon label”, shown for the early Elton John compilation Love Songs. Not shown is a basic design for West German pressings on Rocket used in the late ’80s having just black text and no paint coating.
Many of the colorful label designs used by Phonogram are rare and highly sought after by collectors. Please check back periodically for pictures of early discs from other Phonogram labels. Posts on other early CD pressings may be interspersed, but in time, a collection of many Phonogram CDs will be shown here.
West German pressing of Elton John 21 at 33 (Rocket, catalog number 800 055-2). This disc bears the common, yet popular, “train label”. Although the disc says “MADE IN W.GERMANY BY POLYGRAM” along the perimeter, it has “MADE IN W.GERMANY BY PDO” stamped on the play side near the hole. The matrix code is “800055 2 03”.
West German pressing of Elton John 21 at 33 (Rocket, catalog number 800 055-2). This is an earlier and much rarer pressing than the “train” disc above. The disc says “MADE IN W-GERMANY” at 2 o’clock and has no “MADE IN…” statement stamped on the play side near the hole, suggesting that it was pressed at the Polygram plant. The matrix code is “800055 2 03”.
West German pressing of Elton John Love Songs (Rocket, catalog number 811 312-2). This disc bears the rare and popular “watermelon label”. The disc says “MADE IN W.GERMANY” along the perimeter and has no “MADE IN…” statement stamped on the play side near the hole, suggesting that it was pressed at the Polygram plant. The matrix code is “811 312-2 02”. West German pressings of this Elton John compilation are more commonly found with the train label.