One of the most heavily anticipated catalogs to be released on compact disc in the mid-1980s was that of The Rolling Stones. Of course, it was. As was often the case with headliners, the Stones’ pre-1971 catalog was under the control of different labels, depending on the sales territory. In the U.S., ABCKO owned the early Stones’ catalog, while in Europe and Japan, London held the rights to these classics. If we focus on the U.S. and Europe, we saw the release of two distinct collections on CD — ABKCO in the U.S. and London in Europe. This means different catalog numbers, artwork, and also sound.

Over the years, collectors have sought out the European London CDs because these discs possess better mastering (in layman’s terms, sound quality) than their ABKCO counterparts. Although not released in the U.S., the London discs were fortunately pressed in relatively large quantities for the period and are therefore easy enough to track down online, and even in CD shops in the States (if you can find one).

Here, we consider the original European issue of the Stones’ 1965 classic, Out of Our Heads. The album features 12 tracks, including the all-time favorite “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” as well as the popular “Play With Fire”. London released Out of Our Heads on CD under catalog number 820 049-2. The disc’s label design is typical for early London issues — royal blue and red outer rings, a royal blue and red London logo at 12 o’clock, and royal blue text. The CD format logo stands out at 9 o’clock, while “Made in W-Germany by PolyGram” is printed at 3 o’clock.

Interestingly, the back insert states “Analogue to Digital mastering by Mobile Fidelity Sound”. This explains the excellent sound of these early London Stones CDs, as Mobile Fidelity established itself in the 1980s as a reliable source of quality audiophile mastering (first on vinyl and cassette, and later on CD).

The back insert, like the disc, references manufacturing by PolyGram in West Germany. The cover boldly states “DIGITALLY RE-MASTERED” in a red banner in the upper left corner.

While this original issue of Our of Our Heads, like the other London Stones discs in the series, is not particularly rare, it is a must-have as a collectible and by virtue of the mastering, as a quality presentation of this classic.

Shown below is the cover, back insert, and original West German pressing of Out of Our Heads on London.

R.I.P., Mr. Watts.


The cover for the original London issue of The Rolling Stones Out of Our Heads (catalog number 820 049-2). This is the standard cover artwork for this album, though the “DIGITALLY RE-MASTERED” banner is unique to CD releases on London.


The back insert for the original London issue of The Rolling Stones Out of Our Heads (catalog number 820 049-2). Note the mastering credit to Mobile Fidelity along the bottom, along with the note that the disc was made in West Germany.


The original West German pressing of the London issue of The Rolling Stones Out of Our Heads (catalog number 820 049-2). The disc has “Made in W-Germany by PolyGram” printed at 3 o’clock, and the matrix code is “820 049-2 02#.

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