Dating A&M CD Pressings

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Thread Starter
For the longest time, I was under the (incorrect) impression that all of the AM+ discs, with the black CD tray, were all the same. Now, after having bought multiple AM+ copies of certain albums, like Horizon by the Carpenters, I am realizing that, obviously, since AM+ CDs were pressed really any time between 1984 and 1996(?), there are different masters that are used for different discs. This is why websites like Discogs pay attention to granular detail like matrix and mould IDs.

For starters, I am under the impression that "Made in Japan" or "Printed in Japan" discs are generally older, and "Made in U.S.A." discs are generally newer. (I'm not sure if there are any "Made in West Germany" A&M discs for the U.S. market.) Discs with an IFPI number were pressed after 1994.

I have two AM+ discs (Horizon and Made in America, by Carpenters) with smooth CD edges. Both say "Made in Japan" on the disc. Does that mean there's a good chance that these early Japan-for-U.S. discs were likely pressed in around 1986?

Is there a way to find out (i.e. through digging through an archive somewhere) when these early compact discs for A&M were first pressed?
 

Harry

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(I'm not sure if there are any "Made in West Germany" A&M discs for the U.S. market.)
I have this one, for which I do not see its exact equivalent on Discogs.

scan0021.jpg
There is another there that looks like this, but mine doesn't have the LC185 at the bottom, and this one carries the US catalog number of CD 3184. So there were surely some Made in West Germany for USA discs for Carpenters. Back in those days, they had whatever pressing plants that were around making discs. This CLOSE TO YOU of mine, though in a smooth case, has a bar code of 7502-13184-2, with inserts printed in the USA.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Thread Starter
I have this one, for which I do not see its exact equivalent on Discogs.

View attachment 6828
There is another there that looks like this, but mine doesn't have the LC185 at the bottom, and this one carries the US catalog number of CD 3184. So there were surely some Made in West Germany for USA discs for Carpenters. Back in those days, they had whatever pressing plants that were around making discs. This CLOSE TO YOU of mine, though in a smooth case, has a bar code of 7502-13184-2, with inserts printed in the USA.
Thanks, Harry! I know you also mentioned a while back you have a really early West Germany by Polygram (for U.S.?) pressing of "A Song for You" that doesn't have the remixes (i.e. "non-MFSL-ized"). So I suppose these do exist. Do you know circa when this disc is from?
 

Harry

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I'd be guessing, but they were among the earliest CDs I was buying, in other words, as soon as they came out. Mid 80s, but I can't say 85, 86, 87, 88 even.
 

Harry

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Remember too, that the AM+ designation was "invented" for the late 70's audiophile pressings on vinyl. When CDs were becoming a thing, A&M decided that essentially everything on CD would be considered "audiophile", so basically, every CD on A&M had that logo. It was sometime in the 90s that PolyGram stopped using that logo, so it's really just an indication that the CD is from an earlier era than the late 90s.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Thread Starter
Remember too, that the AM+ designation was "invented" for the late 70's audiophile pressings on vinyl. When CDs were becoming a thing, A&M decided that essentially everything on CD would be considered "audiophile", so basically, every CD on A&M had that logo. It was sometime in the 90s that PolyGram stopped using that logo, so it's really just an indication that the CD is from an earlier era than the late 90s.
It's interesting, I actually remember getting a new (sealed) copy of Chuck Mangione's "Feels So Good" in the mid- to late-2000s, probably around 2006, and it was an AM+ disc. It was "new" in the sense that it was sealed and from a regular store that sold CDs, like a Tower Records or something. I'm pretty sure if I were to pull it out and examine it, it would have an IFPI number. I recently bought an "early Japan for USA pressing" on eBay... same catalog number (CD 3219), and it's supposed to come in the mail today. I'm wondering if the sound is different, in the same way that the sound of the IFPI "Horizon" is a little different from the sound of the "Made in Japan" "Horizon." I'll do an AccurateRip tonight and let you all know...

But, in the meantime, I suppose it's obvious that if the disc reads "Made in West Germany," the disc is from the 1980s, since West Germany ceased to be an entity after 1990. Is it also safe to assume that if the CD reads "Made in Japan" and has a U.S. catalog number, the disc is from the 1980s/is an early pressing?
 

Harry

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But, in the meantime, I suppose it's obvious that if the disc reads "Made in West Germany," the disc is from the 1980s, since West Germany ceased to be an entity after 1990. Is it also safe to assume that if the CD reads "Made in Japan" and has a U.S. catalog number, the disc is from the 1980s/is an early pressing?
Those sound like reasonable theorems.
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
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Remember too, that the AM+ designation was "invented" for the late 70's audiophile pressings on vinyl. When CDs were becoming a thing, A&M decided that essentially everything on CD would be considered "audiophile", so basically, every CD on A&M had that logo. It was sometime in the 90s that PolyGram stopped using that logo, so it's really just an indication that the CD is from an earlier era than the late 90s.
Or more succintly, AM+ is just a marketing logo. Don't get hung up on collecting them because of that logo because it means absolutely nothing. No special processes, no fairy dust...nothing. It only existed for the reissued vinyl series, then A&M used it to market CD. Nothing more.

Besides the fact that most of A&M's early CDs sound like rubbish, I can't see any other reason to collect them. I dumped many of mine decades ago.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Thread Starter
Or more succintly, AM+ is just a marketing logo. Don't get hung up on collecting them because of that logo because it means absolutely nothing. No special processes, no fairy dust...nothing. It only existed for the reissued vinyl series, then A&M used it to market CD. Nothing more.

Besides the fact that most of A&M's early CDs sound like rubbish, I can't see any other reason to collect them. I dumped many of mine decades ago.
This is a side comment that is not directly pertinent to the topic at hand... but I am curious to hear the other Alfa disc pressings of various albums (38XB- and 32XB-). Imho, the Alfa pressing from 1985 of the Carpenters' Singles 1969-1973 doesn't sound "the best" -- but it sounds to me like a flat transfer of the source tape and it sounds very faithful to the original LP from 1973, flubs, VSO and all.
 

Harry

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Me - I hang onto everything I ever bought. It helps when someone needs to know "X" about "Y" pressing. But I rarely will go looking for an old pressing unless it contains something truly unique. Actually, these days, about all I DO look for tends to be old pressings. The amount of "new" music in my collection is fairly paltry.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Thread Starter
Me - I hang onto everything I ever bought. It helps when someone needs to know "X" about "Y" pressing. But I rarely will go looking for an old pressing unless it contains something truly unique. Actually, these days, about all I DO look for tends to be old pressings. The amount of "new" music in my collection is fairly paltry.
(I recently dropped some $$$ on a Black Triangle Abbey Road disc. Oops.)

But yes, similarly, I suppose since I'm younger and started collecting CDs in ~2003, unfortunately most of my discs are newer, but I'm going through my collection and will be selling off some of the newer ones to the used record stores here and will be replacing them with older CDs, which I tend to prefer and consider more definitive "flat" tape transfers.

Which makes me wonder... is my new-ish "Feels So Good" CD different from the "Made in Japan" disc I will be receiving tonight? I'm excited to find out...
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
It's interesting, I actually remember getting a new (sealed) copy of Chuck Mangione's "Feels So Good" in the mid- to late-2000s, probably around 2006, and it was an AM+ disc. It was "new" in the sense that it was sealed and from a regular store that sold CDs, like a Tower Records or something. I'm pretty sure if I were to pull it out and examine it, it would have an IFPI number. I recently bought an "early Japan for USA pressing" on eBay... same catalog number (CD 3219), and it's supposed to come in the mail today. I'm wondering if the sound is different, in the same way that the sound of the IFPI "Horizon" is a little different from the sound of the "Made in Japan" "Horizon." I'll do an AccurateRip tonight and let you all know...

But, in the meantime, I suppose it's obvious that if the disc reads "Made in West Germany," the disc is from the 1980s, since West Germany ceased to be an entity after 1990. Is it also safe to assume that if the CD reads "Made in Japan" and has a U.S. catalog number, the disc is from the 1980s/is an early pressing?
I wouldn’t say it’s obvious when a disc says “West Germany”. Sure West Germany didn’t exist after 1991, but even if they changed the master, they may’ve left the label alone to save a few cents.

It’s like you can still get CD reissues of old albums that contain old 80’s mailing addresses for the record label even though that address hasn’t been correct in 25 years!
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Thread Starter
I wouldn’t say it’s obvious when a disc says “West Germany”. Sure West Germany didn’t exist after 1991, but even if they changed the master, they may’ve left the label alone to save a few cents.

It’s like you can still get CD reissues of old albums that contain old 80’s mailing addresses for the record label even though that address hasn’t been correct in 25 years!
That’s a good point, which I guess brings me back to my question… how can one figure out when a disc was released? For example, the 1A1 64 “Horizon” disc.
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
That’s a good point, which I guess brings me back to my question… how can one figure out when a disc was released? For example, the 1A1 64 “Horizon” disc.

It sure isn’t from popping a disc in a computer snd looking in Windows Explorer for the file’s creation date, as that’ll just label anything from before I think January 1994 as being mastered to disc on January 1, 1994. I’ve got a few CD’s that my family bought in the early 90’s, between January 1, 1990 & December 31, 1992. Clearly those CD’s could not have been mastered in 1994, but there’s obviously no date information on the CD, so the computer just puts the default date in.

Also with the early CD’s, who knows what masters they were using. They could’ve been using masters that were tuned for vinyl or cassette. Or they might’ve mastered them from cassette, depending on how much care was taken.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Thread Starter
It sure isn’t from popping a disc in a computer snd looking in Windows Explorer for the file’s creation date, as that’ll just label anything from before I think January 1994 as being mastered to disc on January 1, 1994. I’ve got a few CD’s that my family bought in the early 90’s, between January 1, 1990 & December 31, 1992. Clearly those CD’s could not have been mastered in 1994, but there’s obviously no date information on the CD, so the computer just puts the default date in.

Also with the early CD’s, who knows what masters they were using. They could’ve been using masters that were tuned for vinyl or cassette. Or they might’ve mastered them from cassette, depending on how much care was taken.
Very interesting insight, thanks! I believe that (U.S.) CDs after 1994 also have IFPI numbers on the matrix and the mould, so if your CD doesn't have one, the chances are good that your CD is pre-1994.

One other thing to note... when I rip in XLD (Mac only), XLD actually writes in the log file if a CD is a "Pressed CD" or a "CD-R," so if you ever want to know if a CD is a bootleg, that may be a good tell, as factory-pressed CDs should always read "Pressed CD" and not "CD-R."
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
Very interesting insight, thanks! I believe that (U.S.) CDs after 1994 also have IFPI numbers on the matrix and the mould, so if your CD doesn't have one, the chances are good that your CD is pre-1994.

One other thing to note... when I rip in XLD (Mac only), XLD actually writes in the log file if a CD is a "Pressed CD" or a "CD-R," so if you ever want to know if a CD is a bootleg, that may be a good tell, as factory-pressed CDs should always read "Pressed CD" and not "CD-R."
For a CD-R you can always flip the disc over and tell if it’s a CD-R. Unless the pirates went to the expense of setting up a clean room and glass master laser the majority of bootlegs are on CD-R.

Of course CD-R’s have been used in professional applications like radio since the 80’s. I’ve got a few radio shows from the 88-92 period and they are legit, but back then it was still cheaper to burn a CD-R than pay the $5,000 or so to make a glass master for only 175 or so copies.
 

Bobberman

Well-Known Member
Of course CD-R’s have been used in professional applications like radio since the 80’s. I’ve got a few radio shows from the 88-92 period and they are legit, but back then it was still cheaper to burn a CD-R than pay the $5,000 or so to make a glass master for only 175 or so copies.
I still use CD-R s myself not just for archiving my audio but being a Radio pro myself they are very helpful to me in programming my weekly radio programs
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Thread Starter
Yeah! I want to clarify, I'm not saying CD-Rs are bad... but what I am saying is, if someone is selling a "rare" CD for a few hundred dollars and it "looks" like an original pressed CD, but XLD tells you it's a CD-R, that may be some cause for concern since you dropped good money on a CD that's not an original pressed CD...

That being said, I am using XLD + AccurateRip to create exact copies of my pressed CD-DAs on CD-R, as well as making backup copies on my solid state drive.
 
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