Apr 23, 2023

Collecting log: CBS/SONY's bizarre 12" DISCO sampler with Springsteen's track

Probably, nobody would think of a Springsteen track on the shown sampler. The front sleeve is misleading since any artists and groups indicated are not featured on this promo compilation disc (check the tracklist on the right). The catalog number (YAPN 23) is not found anywhere on the sleeve (including the spine), and the tracklist is like a promotional flyer, printed on a separate sheet and taped on the plain yellow rear sleeve. So, I guess this color-illustrated sleeve was not specific to this particular pressing but commonly used for the "Super Disco Sound" series (i.e., this issue is Volume 19).

Released in November 1975 (or Showa 50 in the Japanese
calendar), this promo-only compilation from
represents the first known example that contains
Springsteen's track. However,
unless you understand the
language, Born To Run (Track 4) is only identified
by the catalog number of the domestic 7-inch single
SOPB334." Among the others featured on this side are
Bay City Rollers, Paul Simon & Phoebe Snow, Loggins
& Messina, and Art Garfunkel.
Another promotional sampler from CBS/SONY (Japan) continues. Until the end of the vinyl era in Japan in the late 1980s, the company had released many samplers of various artist compilations, mostly in LP formats. Springsteen's recordings occasionally appeared in these samplers that generally included one of the single cuts from the albums released between 1975 and 1987, with a few exceptions containing two or more tracks, such as ALL AMERICAN TOP 100 Vol. 33 (CBS/SONY XAAP 90022) and CBS/SONY POPULAR BEST 9 (CBS/SONY XDAP 93031-2) (see 09/17/2017).

If my memory serves correctly, Born To Run was the first Springsteen track that appeared on such a Japanese promo-only compilation LP released in November 1975 (no English title given; CBS/SONY YALC-49; see the label image right), and Brilliant Disguise was the last found on AMERICAN HIT TUNES Vol. 16 (CBS/SONY XDAP 93175, October 1987; see 12/17/2016). I have never pursued these samplers seriously, as I'm not primarily interested in compilations and don't think most of these are highly collectible. However, I recently discovered an unusual sampler featuring one Springsteen track, which might intrigue those collecting Japanese vinyl pressings.

Upper: As marked "45," this LP-sized disc is played at 45 rpm.
Oddly, the labels do not list the source album from which each
track is culled (e.g.,
). Lower: As usual for CBS/SONY pressings, the dead-
wax matrix numbers are stamped; however, no "
JIS" acronym
(〄) stamp is found on either side.

It's called Volume 19 of Super Disco Sampler (CBS/SONY YAPN 23), released in August 1978. Based on the title, this promotional compilation is supposed to gather the then-new singles (placed on SIDE A) and the candidates (on SIDE B) slated for release that summer from the disco and soul/funk music categories of the label. However, strangely enough, it includes Springsteen's Badlands (CBS/SONY 06SP 256, released September 27, 1978), the then-forthcoming second single from DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN (CBS/SONY 25AP 1000). Yes, Badlands is on a disco sampler!

How has this happened? Although the sleeve and labels clearly state "CBS/SONY," this sampler mainly features a group and artists under the license of EPIC/SONY (i.e., Hollywood, Cathy Lee, Teddy Pendergrass, and George Duke; see 03/25/2023 for the relationship between the two labels). Possibly, CBS/SONY somehow wanted to boost the sale of the dark-toned DARKNESS album, which, contrary to the expectations of the record company, turned out not to be a sequel to the enthusiastic BORN TO RUN three years ago (check 09/19/2015 and 03/05/2016 for how hard Mr. Ryo Okada, who was in charge of Springsteen at CBS/SONY, made every effort to promote DARKNESS).

The disc was cut at 45 rpm instead of 33 rpm, so this 6-track sampler is a 12-inch EP rather than a compilation LP. I don't know any other examples where the studio recording of Badlands is played at 45 rpm on this vinyl format. Neither featured on the Lost In The Flood collector's page nor registered thus far on the Discogs database.

Mar 25, 2023

Collecting log: THE RIVER Japanese 2LP samplers with a promo-only sticker and a concert-report flyer (Part 3 of 3)

Three variants are differentiated from each other
by colors and label names.

Except for a few album/single releases*, it is still not so difficult to find Japanese sample copies for standard vinyl pressings from the 1980s, and those for THE RIVER (CBS/SONY 40AP 1960-1) are no exception. However, as far as I've seen, the stickered sample copies for this double album are hard to come by. 

* I can think of the following three: LIVE/1975-85 (CBS/SONY 75AP 3300-3304; see 11/23/2020), BORN IN THE U.S.A. Master Sound (CBS/SONY 30AP 2878), and Brilliant Disguise one-side single (CBS/SONY 04SP 1075).

Between 1979 and 1980, CBS/SONY and EPIC/SONY (a division of the CBS/SONY Inc. group handling non-Columbia Records artists) issued sample copies with colored stickers, which were very likely in limited quantities, as only a small fraction carry the sticker among those in circulation. These stickers say "strongly recommended disc" in large Japanese words of Kanji and Katakana combination, with either label name beneath it (pink, CBS/SONY; red and yellow, EPIC/SONY; see the images on the left). So, they are not non-official stickers made and put by wholesalers, dealers, or retailers. Many of these stickers are pasted with a small round or tack label on which the domestic release date (month/day) is hand-written.

The stickers are directly pasted over the sleeves, with small labels notifying
the release dates (
11/1 for the album and 11/21 for the single; see the insets).
Note that
CBS/SONY still used white labels for sample 7" singles until 1981,
although up to 1979 for album releases.
Concerning Springsteen releases, I have never seen any other sample albums and singles with these stickers but THE RIVER and the first single, Hungry Heart (CBS/SONY 07SP 511). I own only one copy each in my collection, and as shown on the right, both are the first edition with the original vertical obi or withdrawn color sleeve. Although sample discs have been released for the second/third album pressings with different obis and the 7" single with the corrected black and white "phone booth" sleeve, most probably, no stickered versions exist for these reissued and corrected copies. A small quantity of the sample copies for the second single, I Wanna Marry You (CBS/SONY 07SP 525), could also have been released with the sticker. However, I have thus far not seen such sample copies.

Left: the stickered sample copy. Red-stamped on the tri-folded Japanese liner-note/lyric sheet is the release date (55.11.1), where the year is shown in the Japanese Imperial format (or the traditional Japanese calendar: Showa 55 = 1980 A.D.).
Right: one of the non-stickered sample releases in my collection. See 02/11/2023 for details of the L.A. concert report (pictured top right).
Note the blank image for Springsteen's single-
cut release "NOW PRINTING" (released in
Japan on November 21st, 1980).

The stickered version is rare, even among the sample copies for the album's first pressings. As shown immediately above, my stickered copy includes only a 3-page info sheet for the press release as promotional material. As I already explained (see the last paragraph on 02/11/2023), the stickered copy most probably represents the earliest form of the sample (i.e., pre-release sample copy) for this double album. 

In contrast, a non-stickered copy comes with a short tour report on October/November 1980's Los Angeles concerts (see 02/11/2023) and a flyer advertising the albums released by the label's "Big Three" late in 1980 (Barbra Streisand, Springsteen, and Earth, Wind & Fire; see the image on the right). As you notice, the sleeve image for the first single, Hungry Heart, is not shown on the flyer. Maybe, CBS/SONY's production division was still waiting for approval from the U.S. Columbia Records or Springsteen's management to apply another image for the picture sleeve insert? Just my guess.

— Back to Part 1 or Part 2.

Feb 25, 2023

Collecting log: THE RIVER Japanese 2LP samplers with a promo-only sticker and a concert-report flyer (Part 2 of 3)

Speaking of white-label promos, this repacked special edition of the first three LPs is probably the only known box set for which white-label vinyl records were pressed for promotion. Released in Australia late in 1979 or early 1980 (CBS S3BP220504) and ranked 12th in the Top 40 Worldwide Bruce Springsteen Rarities featured on RECORD COLLECTOR No.329 (November 2006). The regular box was also released in New Zealand (CBS S3BP220504) and the U.K (CBS 66353; see the image on 01/01/2020).

Record collectors are fond of things that differ from a norm, standard, or vast majority. A typical example of such collectibles is white-label promos (WLPs), denoting special vinyl discs pressed predominantly in the 1960s and 1970s, specifically manufactured for promotional purposes and given to radio stations, critics, journalists, and others associated with the music industry (here, I'm talking about LP, but not 7 inches). White color, though not exclusively, was adopted to distinguish these non-retail records easily from regular or stock copies. One of the rarest and most sought-after WLP titles of Springsteen's back catalog, among many others, is the promotional version of the Australian box set containing the first three albums (CBS S3BP220504; see the image on the top).

However, CBS/SONY in Japan and Columbia Records in the U.S. discontinued this customary practice and stopped releasing promotional records with white labels for LP format in 1980 and 1981, respectively. So, Springsteen's last album for which WLPs exist is DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN for the Japanese pressing (CBS/SONY 25AP1000; see the image on 03/05/2016) and THE RIVER for the U.S. release (Columbia PC2 36854; see 11/23/2016). Although I am not so sure, other countries continuously employing WLPs were Australia (up to THE RIVER) and Spain (up to BORN IN THE U.S.A.; yellow labels for LIVE/1975-85 sampler and TUNNEL OF LOVE).

I have in my collection two "sample" label variants on SIDE A of DISC ONE of the Japanese edition of THE RIVER LP (CBS/SONY 40AP 1960-1). A boxed "sample" in three Japanese Kanji characters is printed on the label (center) or stamped (left) on a stock label (right).
As a result, in the case of U.S. Columbia Records, promotional LP copies have become undistinguished from their regular releases since NEBRASKA (Columbia TC 38358/QC 38358), except for a gold promo stamp on the rear sleeve (see the image on 09/28/2016). Discontinued use of WLPs has caused collectors like me to lose interest in collecting promotional vinyl albums unless they are promo-only custom releases, such as my favorite, AS REQUESTED AROUND THE WORLD (Columbia AS 978), released in 1981 (see four consecutive posts from 05/10/2020 to 06/06/2020). Compared with standard LP issues, promo counterparts from CBS/SONY Japan differed only in printing a small "Sample" indication on the regular red labels. Even though the difference is trivial, some Japanese promo/sample copies have been highly demanded (and overpriced, in my opinion) in collector's market just because of their scarcity and nothing else (for example, see the third paragraph on 07/12/2015).

I found in my collection three different "sample" stickers on the rear sleeve of Japanese LP releases (NEBRASKA, BORN IN THE U.S.A., LIVE/1975-85, and TUNNEL OF LOVE) and some 12-inch singles from these albums. The sticker on the left is the earliest found on NEBRASKA LP without warning on copyright protection, followed by the center and right ones. There are slight changes in the warning expression between the two stickers. The center sticker (older) says, "Subletting and transferring the use of the leased property to a third person are strictly forbidden," which becomes slightly milder on the right, like "Please refrain from subletting and transferring ..."
Since the release of NEBRASKA (CBS/SONY 25AP 2440) in 1982, besides the label printing (see the image on 06/06/2015), Japanese sample copies were also indicated by a white sticker pasted on the rear of the LP sleeves (usually on the bottom left; see the images above and also other examples on 09/30/2019 and 11/23/2020). This continued until TUNNEL OF LOVE (CBS/SONY 28AP 3410), Springsteen's last vinyl album pressed in Japan [although for the first time since 1987, Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc. will release domestically pressed Springsteen's vinyl album, GREATEST HITS (reissue), in the spring of 2023]. Then, a question arises if there were Japanese sample copies of THE RIVER LP with a sample/promo sticker?

— Continued to Part 3 /Back to Part 1.