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Reference Library: Abbey Road Japanese CD

From: (Jason Anjoorian)
Subject: Re: Abbey Road CD, Japanese printing
Date: Sun, 09 Jul 1995 13:48:07 -0500

In a previous article, (Steven Handelman) wrote:

Long before sanctioned Beatles CD's were released, I acquired a version of Abbey Road on CD. The sound quality is awesome. The cover is printed in English and Japanese. I have never seen another one like it. Does anybody know anything about this pressing? Liner notes are also in Japanese.

The Japanese Abbey Road CD has the distinction of being the very first Beatles CD in the world released by an officially sanctioned (i.e., non-bootleg) entity. It was issued on the EMI/Odeon label by Toshiba-EMI Ltd. The catalog number is CP35-3016 and the release date was May 21,1983. That's about four years before the US Beatles CDs came out. The CDs were issued with an obi (a paper strip surrounding the CD) on the left hand side. I think the story is that Toshiba-EMI was "asked" by EMI not to issue any more, which is why other Beatles CDs were not issued by Toshiba-EMI at the time and which is why the original Abbey Road CD had a very short lifespan.

Today is has value more as a collectible rather than as an audiophile product (even though it was promoted as a digitally mastered product). It does have some audible tape noise. But fans at the time were very happy with it because for quite a while it was the only way to get an "official" Beatles LP on CD. And, of course, quantities were limited because of EMI's request.

As for value, the original price in Japan was 3500 yen and by the time they found their way over here the price was up around $100. I think it's safe to say that they are worth at least that much today, assuming original condition with obi. Future collectors who get nostalgic over the early days of CDs (as some of us do over vinyl LPs) may help its collectibility.

Jason Anjoorian
Author, The Beatles Japanese Record Guide


From: "Frederick W. Harrison" <>
Subject: Japanese Abbey Road CD
Date: 2 Aug 1998 16:54:17 GMT

I was just checking out Dave Haber's wonderful collection of articles on his website when I came across some information on the Abbey Road Cd that was issued in Japan four years before the official EMI issues, and is now a rare collector's item.

I believe the CD came to be manufactured by Toshiba EMI as they had previously obtained permission to manufacture an audiophile version of the lp. This was released as Toshiba-EMI EALF-97001 (EMLF-97002 was Pink Floyd's "Dark Side Of The Moon" and I don't know if there were others in the series, which bore the logo PRO-USE SERIES.) The cost on the obi was 2,800 Yen, which was a premium price for vinyl in those days, but a worthwhile investment since the pressings were quite well done.

I remember ordering these two titles from the Japanese catalogue of the time (I did the import lp ordering for the flagship store of Sam The Record Man in Toronto, Ontario at the time) and - I'm not certain of this - think they may have been half-speed mastered pressings. The quality certainly was there! The booklet that accompanies the lp has a lengthy essay on the Pro-Use Series, but it is in Japanese!

Could it have been possible that since Toshiba-EMI were granted permission to press an audiophile edition of the lp, they overstepped their bounds and did a transfer to CD, claiming that the new format was an audiophile format no different than that of the audiophile lp? I believe Pink Floyd DSOTM had been released at that point (as a poorly transferred and mastered pressing) which would have made a transfer of that title somewhat redundant.

I do recall our store ordering and receiving copies of the CD, which sold out VERY quickly. I didn't have the foresight to grab a copy ("it'll be in the next shipment").

Frederick W. Harrison

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