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The Art of CD Single Packaging – Pt II

Electronic / Getting Away With It CD SingleCD singles, remember them? Introduced to the public in 1986, they soon superseded the humble cassette single as the format of choice during the 1990s.

This is part two of our look back at the wonderful world of CD single packaging in the 1980s and 1990s. If you haven’t read it yet, you might want to first check out part one here.

So, once again, we dig into the SuperDeluxeEdition archive and take a look at some wonderful formats and packaging, utilised for the CD single. All CDs are UK releases, unless otherwise specified (click on photos to enlarge).

Peter Gabriel / Big Time CD single

The CD single featured more tracks than any other format

Peter Gabriel / Big Time CD single

Full lyrics within the gatefold

Peter Gabriel / Big Time / 1987

The third single from Peter Gabriel‘s massive So album, came in a very glossy gatefold card sleeve, with a generous five tracks, including an extended version of the title track. The lyric is printed inside the gatefold and the whole design is consistent with the So branding.


Duran Duran / None Of The Above

The Japan-only 'snap pack' of None Of The Above

Duran Duran / None Of The Above / 1994

A Japan-only CD single from Duran Duran‘s ‘Wedding Album’. This style of release is known as ‘Tanzaku’ in Japan and is sometimes referred to as a ‘snap pack’ because you can literally snap it in half and discard the bottom section. It features the three-inch format that the Japanese had pioneered in the late eighties, complete with advertisement for Honda Integra!! The extended mix of None Of The Above was exclusive to this release until the White Lines single in 1995 (where it appeared as a bonus track) and the single edit remains unique.


Stephen Duffy / Sugar High CD Single

Stephen Duffy / Sugar High CD Single

Excellent artwork and design made these singles very desirable

Duffy / Sugar High / 1995

Stephen – once “Tin Tin” – Duffy was always messing around with his name, and after his amazing Music In Colours album in 1993, he dropped the “Stephen” to become just “Duffy” and released an album of the same name in 1995. Funnily enough, Neil and Tim Finn did exactly the same thing in the same year, when they teamed up for an album together as “Finn”. But I digress. On Indolent records at the time, ‘Duffy’ released three singles in these very attractive card sleeves, with some great art direction. Sugar High was single number two, with London Girls preceding it and Needle Mythology as the follow-up. The CDs sat on a centre spindle embedded in the right hand gatefold panel.


An expensive looking CD single

Eurythmics / You Have Place A Chill In My Heart / 1988

The last single from the Savage album, You Have Placed A Chill In My Heart came in a black circular tin box, with the title embossed on the lid. Must have been pricey to produce, but then again record companies had money to burn in those days. The previous single I Need A Man also came in a very similar tin, but it was normal tin ‘colour’ and hasn’t stood the test of time as well as the one above (ours is rusty).


Paul McCartney / C'mon People CD Single

Paul McCartney / C'mon People CD Single

The single before "Hope Of Deliverance" was released in the same design

Paul McCartney  / C’Mon People / 1993

The second (and final) single from McCartney’s Off The Ground album came in a plastic framed cardboard sleeve-pack. If you look closely at the pictures you will see a plastic tab on the right that ‘secures’ the lid in place. There were a few variations of this kind of sleeve in the early to mid-nineties. The disc itself also has the artwork on display.


Terence Trent D'Arby / This Side Of Love CD Single

The grown up album-sized jewel case

Terence Trent D’Arby  / This Side Of Love / 1989

There was always something quite luxurious about single releases ‘borrowing’ the album jewel case for their packaging needs. So much nicer than the slimline jewel cases, which were, of course, the norm for singles. Terence Trent D’Arby actually released two This Side Of Love CD singles. TRENT C5 (above) was the standard release with an ‘extended version’ of the single and TRENT P5 a picture disc CD which had a different “12-inch Remix” version. Both came in the album-style jewel cases.


Electronic / Getting Away With It CD Single

Electronic / Getting Away With It / 1989

This is actually the US ‘maxi-single’ from the Bernard Sumner and Johnny Marr outfit. It has a white sleeve (different from the UK dark brown) and the CD is held within a plastic slip-case which slides into the card sleeve. Not an altogether successful design. It’s hard getting used to up-and-down when you are used to left-and-right!


Crowded House / Locked Out CD Single

Crowded House / Locked Out CD Single

Crowded House / Locked Out / 1993

A massive five singles were taken from the sublime Together Alone album in the UK and all went top 30. Locked Out was single number three, and like all the others (except final single Pineapple Head)  it came in double digi-pak where you could hold ‘disc two’, should you decide to purchase.  Normally lots of live versions of tracks would tempt the loyal fans.


Jellyfish / I Wanna Stay Home CD Single

Jellyfish / I Wanna Stay Home CD Single

3D glasses!

Jellyfish / I Wanna Stay Home / 1990

The Baby’s Coming Back single from Jellyfish’s Bellybutton album came in a limted edition ‘nappy’ (i.e. diaper) sleeve, and this final single was proudly called a ‘3D CD Pack’ and came with the old-style 3D glasses. Put them to your eyes and simply look at the pictures on the left and right panels and enjoy the ‘power’ of 3D! Having tested this recently I can confirm it doesn’t rival Avatar as a 3D experience.


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21 responses to The Art of CD Single Packaging – Pt II

  1. Paul Kent says:

    The mighty Jellyfish!!! Saw them live twice and they were stunning. Used to have “I Wanna Stay Home”, but ended up giving it away once I bought the “Joining A Fan Club” box set. But I still own the “New Mistake” CD single, housed in the same style packaging as the Crowded House releases mentioned. Ah, memories…

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Hey Paul – yes, I also saw them live when they were touring the first album. Unfortunately never picked up Joining A Fan Club – a big mistake because it goes for big money these days…

  2. Patrick Gleeson says:

    Peter Gabriel’s Big Time CD Single had the studio version of ‘No Self Control’, whilst the cassette version had the live version for some reason.

  3. You’re missing the following CD singles of interest :-)

    Peter Gabriel – Steam [House shaped box set with front door]
    Depeche Mode – Everything Counts (Live) [3″ ‘filofax’ sleeve]
    The Mission – Butterfly On A Wheel (12″ embossed box set with space for four discs in the series)
    The Damned – Alone Again Or / Erasure – It Doesn’t Have To Be [early CD singles that came in a normal 7″ picture sleeve and the CD on a 7″ plastic insert]

    And the daddy of them all…

    Phil Collins – Do You Remember (Live) [in *HUGE* Merry Go Around, fold out box)

  4. Steve Marine says:

    The style of packaging used on the Electronic single you’ve pictured has my vote as the worst CD single packaging ever. I have a few of those kind and they’re just horrible.

  5. Mark says:

    I have a very unusual SYSTEM-7 CD single that came in a warped cardboard case that you can’t fit anywhere except give it a place of its own; you can’t put anything on it or it will destroy the box as it were. Still have it, I believe it’s from their debut album.

  6. Don says:

    I have that Electronic single and I’d agree that the packaging is very awkward. I also had an Ian McCulloch “Faith and Healing” single with the same design. Some of these singles were later repackaged in regular jewel cases… definitely the Electronic one.

    These CD single articles have been great!

  7. Franco Paredes says:

    Agreed, the Electronic one is indeed not the best packaging ever. I wonder if Depeche Mode’s single ‘In your room’ was ever considered for this list? The cruciform packaging is truly unique.

  8. Paul Kent says:

    Paul – just looked on Amazon for “Joining A Fan Club”… £140!!! Wow! I won’t be parting with that in a hurry!

  9. Barry Grayshon says:

    I think the CD single of 1963 by New Order remains my favourite, A white box with die cut front and metallic blue inlay mirroring through the 1963 cut out.

  10. D.B. Parkes says:

    The boxed IRS CD single of “Finest Worksong” by REM was ridiculous. Took weeks to get the disc out, while the stencil packaging was ravaged by whatever was filed next to it.

  11. Lazlo Nibble says:

    I’m sorry, but no CD single packaging I’ve ever seen is worse than the “Gopak” tray MCA used for The Damned’s “Alone Again Or”. Those square WB slipcases are inconvenient to store, but the Gopak was pure distilled evil in a 7″ sleeve. I’ve never come closer to flat-out snapping a disc in two than I did during the fifteen minutes it took trying to get that CD off the tray.

  12. baward says:

    The two oddest CD singles I have are both by Yello. ‘Blazing Saddles’ (1989) came in a heat-reactive sleeve which changed colour according to the temperature. Handy as a thermometer, I suppose. Placing a bodypart on it was the quickest way for a reaction!

    The other one was the first of the two releases for ‘Rubberbandman’ (1991) which came wrapped in a quite substantial (yellow) rubber sleeve – you have to see it to quite believe that someone thought that it would help the single sell! It didn’t, so they released another version of Rubberbandman, which wasn’t a hit either.

    Graham Needham, at least that ‘Filofax’ Depeche Mode single was easy to file away (not amongst your other CDs though!)

  13. baward says:

    By the way, if you have an Apple computer (iMac, Macbook etc.) inserting one of those 3 inch CDs without an adapter might result in potentially very expensive results. If you get a non-standard CD trapped in the CD/DVD drive (and you don’t have a service agreement or its not under warranty) it may have to go to an Apple Service Centre to be fixed, and they charge a notoriously high fee for fixing it for you!

  14. John says:

    I have that edited version of “None Of The Above” by Duran Duran on a US promo radio CD single with the same artwork.

    Yes, those WEA US CD singles for Electronic (pictured above), Depeche, etc were very clumsy! I can still hear the sound of trying to put the disc back into the plastic sleeve.

    Someone mentioned a Yello CD single with a heat-sensitive sleeve. Massive Attack had something similar for their ’98 singles box. It was brown, but touch it and it changed to white. Creepy but fun.

    I love CD singles. So many great single mixes not released elsewhere!

  15. Daniel says:

    I love posts like these. :) I have all of the Crowded House CD singles. EMI went all out to promote their singles in Europe, including alternate mixes, live tracks, and different sleeves. At the time, you had to collect all of the singles to get nearly an entire live show. Sneaky, but it worked as I bought every single release!

  16. Thom says:

    Not to do with the packaging, but that Duffy single is possibly the only release ever which has one B-side written by Blur’s bass player (Tempus Fugit by Alex James) and the other by Andy Bell, future bass player for Oasis (co-write on The Sugar On the Pill)

  17. Michael Bird says:

    That Electronic release reminds me how much I hated the recycled cardstock they were using for releases in the early 90s. Environmental responsibility aside (and I am a fervent recycler), the printed surface of those releases peeled up and was unusually sensitive to nicking and fraying. Mint copies from the era are nigh impossible to locate.

  18. SimonP says:

    Some oddities that I have:

    Massive Attack – Karmacoma – came in an ziploc anti-static bag like electronic components.

    Tomorrow’s Girls – Donald Fagen – came in a double CD case that is designed to hold the album Kamakiriad, not a second CD single. You turned the inlay sheet around and it was the same as the album artwork.

    Lastly the Fine Young Cannibals – I’m Not The Man I Used To Be picture disc edition came in a really annoying card case with a round recess for the disc and this then had a clear sleeve that slid over the whole package. The packaging went in a drawer and the disc into a spare jewel case after about 2 plays!

    That Eurythmics CD in the tin has a blistering live version of Here Comes The Rain Again, btw. Give it a listen…

    The 3 singles from Laughing Stock by Talk Talk were picture discs and the 3rd of the 3 came in a 12″ box with spaces for the other 2 and they all made up a larger picture.

  19. SimonP says:

    Oops, my formatting seems to have gone wrong, that Talk Talk bit was in the middle, or so I thought!

  20. Brian says:

    The Pet Shop Boys’ ‘I wouldn’t normally do this kind of thing’ CD single came in a translucent plastic bubble-wrap style gatefold wallet to hold the card sleeve’s of the disc and it’s second disc

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