February 23rd, 2014
Back in 2007, a rare West German pressing of Rush’s 1981 landmark album Moving Pictures was featured on keithhirsch.com. This disc bears Mercury Records’ first CD label design, referred to as the “Green Arrow”. More on this CD can be found here. Now we consider another early Rush CD. In September 1982, the Canadian trio of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart released their follow-up to Moving Pictures (well, a live album came in between). Signals demonstrated Rush’s adaptability, as synthesizers complimented their familiar guitar-heavy rock and told their fans that they were embracing the 1980’s. Signals was heavy, mind you, but with a very different sound than what fans were used to from the group. With the change in sound, Rush still was able to turn out hits, as Signals offered the popular “Subdivisions”, “The Analog Kid”, and “New World Man”.
Mercury Records released Signals on CD in 1982 under catalog number 810 002-2. The first copies were pressed in West Germany by Polygram and bear the same green-arrow label design referenced above for Moving Pictures. While the Green-Arrow pressing of Moving Pictures is rare, Signals is even rarer. The matrix code on the Signals CD is “810002 2 01”. The format of this matrix code is indicative of the earliest Polygram CDs produced. This is due to the lack of a space and hyphen separating groups of characters. A later and more common West German pressing of Signals, for example, bears matrix code “810 002-2 02”.
The Signals CD featured here is rare by virtue of the green-arrow design. Mercury switched quickly to the more familiar “atomic” design, which bears red and silver lines on the disc and the atomic symbol at the center (this design is shown in the aforementioned Moving Pictures entry). The earliest Atomic copies of Signals, which were also pressed in West Germany, bear the same matrix code as the Green-Arrow pressing (“810002 2 01”), meaning that the same glass master was used. Although this Atomic pressing was made from the original glass master, it is far more common than the Green-Arrow version of Signals. Later West German Atomic pressings of Signals were made from different glass masters that show the matrix code with a space and hyphen as mentioned in the preceding paragraph. (It should be noted that early U.S. pressings are also found with the atomic design.)
The inserts with the Green-Arrow pressing of Signals were printed in West Germany. Unfortunately, the inserts cannot be used to spot this rare CD, as more common West German Atomic pressings were issued with the same inserts. Shown below are the inserts issued with West German pressings of Signals, along with the rare Green-Arrow CD.
The cover for West German pressings of Rush Signals (Mercury, catalog number 810 002-2). This is the standard cover artwork for this album.
The back insert for West German pressings of Rush Signals (Mercury, catalog number 810 002-2). Note that it states “Printed in West Germany” along the bottom. A barcode appears in the top right corner. This back insert is found with the West German Green-Arrow CD and later West German Atomic pressings.
The rare West German Green-Arrow pressing of Rush Signals (Mercury, catalog number 810 002-2). The matrix code is “810002 2 01”. Note that “MADE IN W-GERMANY” is printed on the CD at 7 o’clock.