Paper Sleeve Mania!

9-29-10

Paper Sleeve Mania!

At the beginning of September, a large collection of Japanese paper sleeve (kami sleeve) CD’s showed up at Amoeba Records in Hollywood.  From this batch, I got 17 titles:

BUGGLES AGE OF PLASTIC, UNIVERSAL JPN CD I’ve wanted this title for years as a paper sleeve CD!

CLARK, SONNY COOL STRUTTIN’, TOSHIBA JPN CD jazz

CLARK, SONNY SONNY CLARK TRIO, TOSHIBA JPN CD jazz

COUSINS, DAVE TWO WEEKS LAST SUMMER, MUSKRAT JPN CD Strawbs

DURY, IAN / BLOCKHEADS DO IT YOURSELF, JVC JPN CD nice large booklet

EAST OF EDEN MERCATOR PROJECTED, UNIVERSAL JPN CD completes a set

FAITH, PERCY MALAGUENA, SONY JPN CD EZ

FAITH, PERCY VIVA!, SONY JPN CD EZ

FAME, GEORGIE 20 BEAT CLASSICS, UNIVERSAL JPN CD collection

HANCOCK, HERBIE PERFECT MACHINE, SONY JPN CD jazz

LEWIE, JONA ON THE OTHER HAND THERE’S A FIST, VICTOR JPN CD

MORGAN, LEE SIDEWINDER, TOSHIBA JPN CD jazz

MOTORHEAD s/t, IMPERIAL JPN CD debut album, with bonus tracks

NEWMAN, TOM FAERIE SYMPHONY, UNIVERSAL JPN CD with reversible cover

SILVER, HORACE BLOWIN’ THE BLUES AWAY, TOSHIBA JPN CD jazz

SILVER, HORACE DOIN’ THE THING, TOSHIBA JPN CD jazz

SIMON & GARFUNKEL BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATERS, SONY JPN CD ’95 edition, SBM and some sort of ‘Pure Link Digital source’ mastering

There sure was a lot of jazz – and I got to look through all the jazz titles!  I was stoked to get some prime Blue Note kami sleeves!

Amusingly, I have heard several stories about who assembled this collection of kami sleeves:

  1. A roadie for a famous artist who toured Japan a lot
  2. A music publisher who fancied jazz, but liked the quality of Japanese CD’s
  3. A crazy guy with a lot of cash

There were discs from every label, so I doubt it was a music publisher.  There were lots of ‘boxes’ from Disk Union – a Japanese retail store that makes promo boxes for sets of kami sleeves.  One thing’s for certain – it was a lot of Japanese paper sleeve CD’s!

I wonder if used paper sleeve CD’s in Japan have come down in price, now that everybody seems to want SHM-CD versions?

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4 Responses to Paper Sleeve Mania!

  1. postpunkmonk says:

    So these were all used. Average price? Gotta love the upside of that “endless upgrade” march of doom. Personally, I am of modest budget and thus very careful at picking titles to upgrade. My criteria are as follows:
    1) is it a “core collection” artist?
    2) are there tracks I don’t previously have on CD in the new package?
    Period.
    The lure of “better sound” means nothing to me.
    Better packaging means nothing to me.

    One RM I recently picked up at the “right price” [$3, if you must know] was the 1999 US RM of “Songs From The Big Chair.” It may have been dropped in the bins by a fan who has since upgraded to the 2xCD RM of that title. It’s not a favorite album but certainly a good one, for it’s extreme popularity. It had 9 bonus tracks that were new to me since I don’t collect Tears For Fears and were the “bait” for me. But the quality of the remastering was the first I’ve ever heard that was a night-to-day “wow!” comparison. I was hearing tons of filigree that I’d never previously heard in owning the album on original US LP and CD. The new detail was phenomenal. Every other RM I’ve gotten has been okay or horrid [due to flattening dynamic range to enhance loudness] but never this stunning.

  2. ronkanefiles says:

    Jim-san,

    Ah, we differ:

    > The lure of “better sound” means nothing to me.
    > Better packaging means nothing to me.

    I am always after “better” sound. Packaging means everything to me. I can’t tell you have many times I bought CD’s in the 80’s / 90’s and the package of the LP that I knew and loved had been destroyed or altered. How about the original magazine CD’s with the “Virgin Value” banner on ’em?

    The Japanese paper sleeve CD’s give me back some of the feeling lost with the transition from LP’s to CD’s. Many Japanese paper sleeve CD’s are replicated so carefully as to include a print of the original LP label, a full re-pro of the innersleeve of the LP or other insert, albeit in miniature…

    The cost of these titles as “used” kami sleeve CD’s ranged between $9.99 and $19.99; I opted to not go for the “more expensive” ones. And the boxed sets, while beautiful, were prohibitively priced – and way out of line! For example: boxed sets of all original albums by, say, Can, Rolling Stones, ELP, Amon Duul II – all averaged $40 per disc! And, I must say, I bought almost every title on this list “with a credit slip” – I traded in my swap meet box after the swap meet. No bringing th goods out a 2nd time for me!

    I now have over 500 Japanese paper sleeve CD’s. The only thing that trumps a Japanese paper sleeve? Better sound with a DSD Mastering on an SA-CD. In some cases, it is night-and-day with ‘clarity’ – not necessarily ‘loudness’ – on SA-CD DSD masterings.

    The Buggles paper sleeve CD is a thing of beauty – and it sounds great. They fully re-produce the original LP’s inner-sleeve (showing what tracks were used for what) that is entirely missing from both UK / US versions of their mighty debut.

    What I won’t do is automatically buy a Japanese paper sleeve a 2nd time, when it re-appears as an SHM-CD ( = Super High Materials ) – which seems to be the newest thing they’ve come up with to get folks in a consumer frenzy once again. The only reason / way I’ve obtained SHM-CD’s (usually as little paper album covers) is when they re-issue something I missed the first time around as a paper sleeve CD’s (Khan “Space Shanty” comes to mind)…

    So, I like the way these things look; and, to my ears, they almost never sound sound ‘worse’ than what I am replacing (though there are instances). I am not a fan of unnecessarily ‘remixing’ albums – but it seems to happen. When I buy a CD of anything that I love, I want it to be true to the LP / 45 that I have owned, known and loved. I don’t like stuff to be tinkered with, not even by the artist etc.

  3. postpunkmonk says:

    Well, a lot of 40+ year old “classic rock” is remixed and I feel that it’s driven by copyright law. You’ll notice that the year of copyright on a remixed album RM to CD is the year of the RM reissue, not the original LP issue. By this means the reach of copyright is extended artificially, even in territories that favor a brief copyright period. I have a few of these and since it is in every case my first exposure to albums like “Who’s Sell Out” or “Plastic Ono Band” I can’t say I have any basis to mind.
    Unlike you, Mr. Eddie Rayner!!!

    I still have those 1st Magazine CD issues. I bought them from you in the UK at the time. The later RMs have appropriate bonus tracks but I prefer having the B-sides on the “Scree” comp. So I still have the [paid for] originals. I did upgrade my copy of “Jerky Versions of the Dream” for the BBC sessions! But I didn’t appreciate the color changes on the sleeve from white to off white.

    The JPN kami sleeves irritate me because many do not fit on my racks, which were designed for JBs. Also, the miniaturization of the art doesn’t make any sense to me. A 24″x12″ GF inner spread reduced to 9.6″ x 4.8″ represents a form of insanity to me. When I RM a LP not on CD, I have a format that’s much smarter. I use a large, 6-panel 9.5×14″ fold-out insert that has enough room to carry the inner sleeve art on either side at roughly 75% of full size. A much smarter solution to that problem, and still nicer than reformatting an inner sleeve into booklet pages.

  4. ronkanefiles says:

    Of course, not all of the Japanese paper sleeve CD’s have read-able re-pro artwork – but many do. Some even contain English language booklets! But most not.

    The sound of those orig Magazine albums on CD was never bad, but it sure wasn’t great. And I always hated it when Virgin UK plastered that dumb “Virgin Value” banner over album artwork. I do not have Japanese kami sleeve CD’s for Magazine, but I did get the UK re-masters, for only slightly better sound. Where the bonus tracks are is a matter of indifference to me; I have vinyl, CD’s, boxed sets etc. I think I have everything I want / need – in some format or another.

    When I look at my list of paper sleeve CD’s, I can see titles I am not always happy with ( = I would likely buy it again, in some format, if it appeared to be re-mastered or somehow positively altered). But there are so many that I have that are the only way a CD of that title is even possible!

    It’s a fun sub-genre of CD collecting, for me. Access in California isn’t bad, but it’s nothing compared to going to Tokyo and seeing almost everything used, cheaply. I bought very few full price paper sleeve CD’s on my last visit there in 2007.

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