Early Japanese CD pressings are often sought after by collectors, who are attracted by the almost certain guarantee of good sound quality and exceptional, by 1980s standards, packaging.
The P33P series of Abba CDs issued by Polydor in Japan in 1986 more than lives up to the reputation enjoyed by such early Japanese releases.
P33P CDs look similar yet different to their European cousins
In all, nine Abba CDs were released as part of the P33P series: all the group’s original albums from Abba to The Visitors plus Gracias Por La Musica and a completely new Greatest Hits compilation. Abba Live, which had yet to be released, was not part of the initial titles but was subsequently added to the range later in the year.
These releases are notable on a number of fronts. Firstly, they used completely different mastering to Polydor’s European releases.
The source tapes used appear to have been Japanese, judging by Abba’s rejigged running order, which puts SOS at the start of the album.
Secondly, the entire series faithfully reproduced the original LPs’ artwork, except with minor changes to the tracklistings to reflect the lack of sides on CDs.
Polydor even used the original typefaces (or close approximations) and followed the original LP design layouts with such care that casual observers could easily miss these changes.
This attention to detail stretched to the CD booklets themselves, which were 30 pages long in some cases, each featuring lyrics in English and Japanese plus an extensive essay discussing the album and its place in Abba’s discography.
These exceptional, by 1980s standards, releases remained in print until 1992. The nine titles are also relatively plentiful with the exception of Gracias Por La Musica and Abba: The Album.
In monetary terms, they generally tend to sell in the €30 to €40 bracket with obi strips adding a 30% premium to the price.