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What is a promo box? E-mail

The term "promo box" is used generically to describe custom made boxes that are used to store Japanese mini LPs.

Disk Union

The majority of these boxes are created by a Japanese company "Disk Union" and they are truly promotional. They are "given away" as an incentive to people who purchase the entire set of a particular release. Each release is usually for one artist and also is usually on or around a specific date.

For example, Toshiba may release 10 mini LPs for a single artist over a period of a month or so (if not all on the same day). Disk Union purchase a set number of these and hold them in stock until the last is released. Meanwhile Disk Union create a special box using artwork usually based on, or directly derived from, one of the artist's releases.

Disk Union offer the box as an incentive to those who purchase all 10 titles in one lot from Disk Union.

These releases from Disk Union are often also accompanied by "promo obis" and, more rarely a replica of another 33rpm or 45rpm cover (such as Zappa's Uncle Meat Box).

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Other Boxes

Manufacturer Boxes

Occasionally the record companies produce boxes for housing sets. In most cases these are sold at a markup (therefore they cannot be considered strictly "promotional"). Often the CDs contained within the box cannot be purchased separately (other than on ebay of course). The Rolling Stones "Bigger Bang 2006" box is a good example.

Home made one offs

These are "labours of love" and usually are not sold. There are exceptions but anyone selling these usually makes it pretty clear. Also, the quality ranges significantly.

Copies

In recent years a number of highly popular boxes have been illegally manufactured and sold on eBay and elsewhere (Amazon second hand dealers). These included the black Led Zeppelin Box and both Mono and Stereo Beatles Remasters. Thousands have been made and, arguably, there are as many fakes as there are originals.

Fakes

There are also some unofficial releases (not Disk Union and not Manufacturer releases - fakes in effect). An example is the "Exciting the Who" box (the 2005 release, not the 2006 version which is official).

Are these legal?

The official releases are obviously legal.

The Disk Union boxes are also legit. There are occasions when Disk Union has announced a box and then has not produced it. It is believed that this happens because they have not been able to finalise the usage of the artwork (any artwork) on the box (Pete Townshend for example).

The others are (theoretically) illegal and would normally also contain fake mini-lps, but not necessarily. If the collector has filled the box from a number of different sources then the box will likely contain a mix of genuine and fake mini LPs.

Buying these boxes

Disk Union does not ship these boxes outside Japan. The only way to buy them is from someone in Japan or on eBay.

 
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Featured Releases (A selection of...)

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Front cover (main) image of EMER-BOX1 : Emerson, Lake + Palmer : Brain Salad Surgery Box
EMER-BOX1 : 2002-11-21

Front opening promo box and obis from Disk Union came with first five albums in 20 bit K2 : VICP-62114 to VICP-62118

(Images courtesy of The Brain Salad Surgery site http://www.brain-salad-surgery.de/.)

Front cover (main) image of Caroline-2008 : Various Artists : Caroline Records 2009 US Releases
Caroline-2008 : 2008-08-05

In late 2008 Caroline Records in the USA released a number of albums by the following artists: UFO, Jethro Tull, Quicksilver Messenger, Brian Eno, Roxy Music, The Raspberries, Kate Bush, Blondie, The Band, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Van Der Graaf Generator (full list below).

Unlike the suspect Universal releases these are 100% Japanese. The only difference between these and the Japanese (apart from being as much as 50% cheaper) is a sticker on the bar code of the obi.

As at March 2009 most of these are still available at Amazon.

 
Front cover (main) image of WPCR-13295 : Talking Heads : Speaking In Tongues (+2)
WPCR-13295 : 2009-01-14

Fifth studio album, featuring Talking Heads only US Top Ten hit, Burning Down The House (including an alternative version as a bonus, and an unfinished outtake of Two Note Swivel).

This version is a reproduction of the limited edition clear vinyl version designed by artist Robert Rauschenberg, who won a Grammy Award for his work.

Front cover (main) image of DU-BOX075 : Kluster : Zwei-Osterei Box
DU-BOX075 : 2006-04-06
Two titles only (CTCD-541 and 542) - may have been a Captain Trip box? Can hold up to 8? CDs.
 
Front cover (main) image of DU-SP146.2 : Bowie, David : Space Oddity Box
DU-SP146.2 : 2007-03-07

This box was issued by Disk Union as part of the 3rd of their 3 box releases in the early 2007. You did not need to buy boxes one (Ziggy Stardust Box and Promo Obis) or two (Low Box and Promo Obis) in order to receive the Space Oddity Box. It came with Let's Dance Box and Promo Obis.

Front cover (main) image of VICP-5442,3,4 : Emerson, Lake + Palmer : First True Japanese Mini LP Rock Release
VICP-5442,3,4 : 1994-09-21

The first three Emerson Lake and Palmer albums (self titled, Tarkus and Pictures at an Exhibition) are arguably the first true Rock Mini LPs. They were released on 21st September 1994.

These had been preceded by a much earlier Lotus and a US release of some Rolling Stones albums repackaged for Japan a few short months before these. Neither of these earlier releases was true to the original vinyl although the Stones came close.

The earliest true Minis were two series of MCA Jazz releases from March 1994 (MVCZ-26 to MVCZ-45) including this example: Death and The Flower.

 

See all Featured Releases