March 23rd, 2014
In the 1970s, Styx, hailing from Chicago, transformed from one of many prog rockers of the era to the archetypal arena rock group. This transformation began with their highly successful 1977 effort The Grand Illusion, featuring the hit title track and radio staples “Fooling Yourself (Angry Young Man)” and “Come Sail Away”. It continued with 1978’s Pieces of Eight, which offered “Blue Collar Man”, and 1979’s Cornerstone, which produced the landmark ballad “Babe”. Styx’s position as a leading commercial act arguably reached its peak with 1981’s concept album, Paradise Theater. The album is a fictitious account of the 1928 opening of the Paradise Theater in Chicago, which is met with great optimism, and then its eventual decline and closure and is considered a commentary on the changing view of the United States as a whole over the period.
Released on A&M Records, the line-up on Paradise Theater is as follows: Dennis DeYoung, keyboards and vocals; Tommy Shaw, guitar and vocals; James Young, guitar and vocals; Chuck Panozzo, bass; John Panozzo, drums and percussion. Songs were written by DeYoung, Shaw, and/or Young. Paradise Theater is a good mix of ballads (DeYoung’s “The Best of Times”) and driving rock (the trio’s “Rockin’ the Paradise”). Additionally, the album offers one of Styx’s biggest hits in Shaw’s “Too Much Time on My Hands”. In 1981, Paradise Theater reached #1 on the U.S. Billboard albums chart.
Given the aforementioned success, it should be no surprise that Paradise Theater saw early releases on CD in Japan, the U.S., and Europe. We will consider the U.S. release here, though other early CDs of Paradise Theater may be posted at another time (hint, hint). The U.S. CD is commonly found bearing catalog number CD-3240. There are in fact Japanese pressings (Denon) bearing this catalog number, which would indicate an early U.S. release. What many collectors and Styx fans may not realize, however, is that CD-3240 does not represent the first U.S. release of Paradise Theater on CD.
The original U.S. CD issue of Paradise Theater was released under catalog number CD-3719. This issue exists as Japanese Matsushita and Denon plant pressings, and these discs are very rare. Thus, the CD-3719 release was replaced quickly by the CD-3240 release. As stated above, the CD-3240 issue first appeared as Japanese Denon pressings, but this version is still in print as a U.S. pressing.
For the CD-3719 issue, we focus on the Japanese Matsushita plant pressing. As an early Matsushita pressing (circa 1984), this disc has the text “MADE BY MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC IND.CO.,LTD.” and the Technics audio logo stamped on the plastic ring (Matsushita was the parent company that owned Technics). The CD has matrix code “3719 2” stamped in a crude font, also indicative of an early Matsushita pressing. The inserts with this CD were printed in Japan, and the back insert has no barcode.
Shown below is the cover, back insert, and a spine label for the CD-3719 release of Paradise Theater, along with the Japanese Matsushita pressing.
Note: When inspecting the CD-3719 disc and inserts, both the British and American spellings of “theater” are noted (i.e., theater vs. theatre). For example, theatre is shown on the album’s cover featuring the 1928 “Gala Premiere”. However, theater is shown on the back cover of the CD booklet and back insert, which feature the modern-day dilipidated building.
The cover for the original Japan-for-U.S. CD of Styx Paradise Theater (A&M, catalog number CD-3719). This is the standard cover artwork for this album.
The back insert for the original Japan-for-U.S. CD of Styx Paradise Theater (A&M, catalog number CD-3719). Note that there is no barcode. As indicated along the bottom, this insert was printed in Japan.
A spine label for the original Japan-for-U.S. CD of Styx Paradise Theater (A&M, catalog number CD-3719). Catalog number CD-3719 pertains to the rare first U.S. issue that was quickly replaced by a CD bearing catalog number CD-3240, which is still in use today.
The original Japanese Matsushita pressing of Styx Paradise Theater (A&M, catalog number CD-3719). “MADE BY MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC IND.CO.,LTD.” and the Technics audio logo are stamped on the plastic ring. The matrix code is “3719 2”. Note that “Made in Japan” is printed beneath the CD format logo at 8 o’clock.