Side by side: 1988 Japan 3” CD singles

These two small objects of desire were 1988 era 3” CD format singles from a range of releases by Virgin that ostensibly looked to mimic original vinyl releases from back in the day. But the devil is in the detail…

Side by side: 1988 Japan 3” CD singles - 'Gentlemen Take Polaroids' and Ghosts' front cover designs
^ Side by side: 1988 Japan 3” CD singles – ‘Gentlemen Take Polaroids’ and Ghosts’ front cover designs

First up was ‘Ghosts’ (Virgin, CDT 11, 1988) and it is the more interesting of the two releases by way of its inclusion on CD of the 3’55” single remix of ‘Ghosts’ as well as the 1981 live ‘version’ of ‘The Art Of Parties’ that was the B side of the original 1982 UK 7” and 12” singles. The live take is an interesting alternative as this was the tour that saw Steve Jansen play a Simmons electronic drum kit (as briefly mentioned on Steve’s excellent Sleepyard blog and on stereoklang.se) while the scorching lead guitar duties are from the wonderful David Rhodes on a short-lived stint as live guitarist with Japan on the 1981 ‘Visions of China’ tour, his distinctive tones more familiar from his work with Peter Gabriel, Talk Talk and Kate Bush amongst others. There is a third track this CD by way of ‘Visions Of China’ (in its familiar 3’38” album mix) – it bears no relation to the original ‘Ghosts’ single and seems an odd inclusion here.

Side by side: 1988 Japan 3” CD singles - 'Gentlemen Take Polaroids' and Ghosts' rear cover designs
^ Side by side: 1988 Japan 3” CD singles – ‘Gentlemen Take Polaroids’ and Ghosts’ rear cover designs

The second of the Japan releases from this series in 1988 is ‘Gentlemen Take Polaroids’ – and if ever there was a contender for a deserving CD mini single release then it is the four tracks from original double-pack 7” single from 1980. But that open goal waiting for a tap-in of the ball is blustered over the bar with this release which instead goes for a selling point of including ‘original 12” mixes’ – so, in effect, the album versions. It brings together the 7’06” album mix of the title track (rather than the 7” edit, which remains strangely elusive on CD other than a handful of long out of print various artist compilations), the very bizarre choice of ‘Cantonese Boy’ (perhaps the connection is the inclusion of ‘Gentlemen…’ on its 1982 single release…) – in its familiar 3’43” album form despite being titled ‘12” version’ – and finally ‘Methods Of Dance’ (listed as 12” Version, presumably a reference to is inclusion on the flip side of the late 1982 ‘Nightporter’ single – but ultimately the same 6’53” duration as per the album version). What a shame that of the four tracks/edits unique to the double-pack, not one of them made it to this release.

Side by side: 1988 Japan 3” CD singles - 'Gentlemen Take Polaroids' and Ghosts' disc label designs
^ Side by side: 1988 Japan 3” CD singles – ‘Gentlemen Take Polaroids’ and Ghosts’ disc label designs

On the packaging front, ‘Ghosts’ makes use of the design from the 12” 1982 UK single for its sleeve – which is a regular single sleeve, the rear of which is very different from the 1982 single. By contrast, ‘Gentlemen Take Polaroids’ is a gatefold with another colour picture on the inside – the from design based more on the original album sleeve design by way of its photo choice.

2 Replies to “Side by side: 1988 Japan 3” CD singles”

  1. Yes, I was also crestfallen to see a full monty of missed opportunities on the GTP CD-3. But at least the “Ghosts” was a definite buy! I was thrilled that Virgin saw fit to release some of their fantastic 12″ single back catalogue on the tiny discs, and I bought as many of these as I could find…that were worthy of purchase, of course!

    When the CD-3 format first was manifesting, I had read about it for some time and actually had anticipatory dreams where I’d be in a record store and see Cabaret Voltaire 12″ singles re-issued on the format! That never quite happened, but at least Virgin came close with releases by XTC, JAPAN, Roxy Music…all having tracks that made their CD debut. Here’s a handy list of the 1988 series:

    https://www.discogs.com/lists/Virgin-CDT-series/570552

    I’m surprised that I have eleven of those 41, with a few that I [foolishly] sold off [XTC, China Crisis, H17 – Temptation] thinking that once I had the tracks elsewhere on CD, I would no longer “need” them. But that did not take into account desiring them!

  2. That is a handy link to the series! I have about the same amount, a few have been tricky to track down at a decent price/condition, so they remain elusive. Another Japan one to come before long…

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