December 26th, 2009
As would be expected, the majority of albums produced in the 1950s were recorded in mono, as stereo was in its infancy. By the time the compact disc hit the market in the early 1980s, however, stereo recording and playback was the norm. As a result, it was considered fashionable in certain instances to take a mono recording and convert it to “fake stereo”. Unfortunately, the results were often unappealing to the ear, to be kind. In 1984, RCA decided to release four Elvis Presley albums, originally recorded in mono, on CD in the U.S. in what they called “reprocessed stereo”. The four albums released in fake stereo were Elvis’ Golden Records; 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong — Elvis’ Golden Records, Vol. 2; Elvis Presley; and Elvis. The inserts with these CDs were labeled “Stereo effect reprocessed from monophonic”.
These fake stereo Elvis CDs were unpopular with fans and audiophiles alike due to the poor sound. As a result of what turned out to be a failed experiment, RCA quickly pulled the fake stereo Elvis CDs from the market and replaced them with mono versions. The fake stereo CDs today are quite rare. All four only exist as Japanese pressings. Despite their poor sound and being rejected upon release, they are highly sought after today by Elvis fans and CD collectors.
Featured here is one of the four Elvis fake stereo CDs, Elvis’ Golden Records, which was released by RCA under catalog number PCD11707. RCA approached this and the other three fake stereo CDs with a sense of history by preserving the original LP catalog numbers. In the case of Elvis’ Golden Records, 1707 was part of the original LP catalog number.
Elvis’ Golden Records is the most common of the four fake stereo Elvis CDs, but it is still quite rare. This CD was replaced with a mono version under catalog number PCD1-5196. The mono issue was in print for many years and exists as Japanese and U.S. pressings.
Shown below are pictures of the cover, back insert, and disc for the fake stereo issue of Elvis’ Golden Records. In the coming months, I will feature the remaining three fake stereo discs, though I will not do this in consecutive months. In the interest of keeping things fresh on keithhirsch.com, I will intersperse other rare and unique early CD pressings.
The cover for the “fake stereo” CD issue of Elvis’ Golden Records (RCA, catalog number PCD11707). This cover is actually identical to the one used for the subsequent mono issue. Note the early RCA CD logo in the bottom left corner.
The back insert for the “fake stereo” CD issue of Elvis’ Golden Records (RCA, catalog number PCD11707). Note the statement “Stereo effect reprocessed from monophonic” printed below the track list. Also note “Printed in Japan” at the end of the copyright line. This indicates an early RCA CD issue. Most Japan-for-U.S. RCA CDs are found with inserts printed in the U.S.
The rare “fake stereo” Elvis’ Golden Records CD (RCA, catalog number PCD11707). The disc was pressed in Japan by Denon. This is an early Denon pressing by virtue of the matrix code being stamped in a crude font on the plastic ring. Although difficult to read in this picture, the matrix code is “PCD 11707 A-11”. Note that the character groups “PCD 11707” and “A-11” are separated by 180 degrees in the plastic ring. Japanese Denon pressings are typically found with matrix codes stamped in a dot-matrix font in the mirror band.