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RCA CDs (1984)

RCA US PCD1-4702 (1984)

In 1984 RCA released THE RISE AND FALL OF ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS on the new compact disc format along with the rest of Bowie's RCA catalogue. This made David Bowie the very first major rock star to have his entire musical output available in digital form. However, there were serious audio drawbacks with the RCA CDs. Instead of using the original Ziggy audio master tapes (which Rykodisc and all other remasters in the future would), RCA used later generation and differently sourced analog tapes previously EQd as cassette manufacturing masters. These cassette masters (Umatic Digital Cassette Masters) were transferred from tape to digital and then to CD. The RCA engineers in Japan left in tape hiss, while those in Germany faded some songs too early to silence. The Japanse RCA CDs were also notable for a number of audio flaws (e.g. mastering volume/EQ error and tape damage on Side Two of "Hunky Dory").  As such the RCA CDs were not what they could have been with "flat" and "dull" being common complaints.

One reviewer compared the later 1990 Rykodisc CD re-issues to the RCA CDs and said:

"The differences to be heard in contrast to the original RCA CDs are in no way subtle or minor. These new discs sound alive and three-dimensional - the RCA discs sound like a cheap AM radio in comparison. Instruments that were inaudible on the RCA discs are clearly heard here, as are bits of echo and other effects totally absent from the original LP releases."

1984 CDs

RCA Germany (PD 84702) 1984 (deleted in 1988) - grey and silver CD face
RCA Japan - Booklet printed in US (PCD1-4702) (deleted in 1988) - silver CD face with blue ring

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RCA Japan PCD1-4702 (1984) CD face

In 1988 the RCA Bowie CDs were deleted from production when Bowie chose not renew with the company. Bowie did not immediately reassign the CD rights to another company because he did not want his back catalogue reissued as "budget" items. As a result THE RISE AND FALL OF ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS (1972) became one of the most "demanded but unavailable" rock CDs in this period, until the Rykodisc re-issue in 1990.

Rykodisc 1990 & 1994 reissues of Ziggy Stardust

---This page last modified: 16 Jan 2019---

Ziggy Stardust Scarf (1973)