To try to do a complete album discography for the Columbia label is probably a lifetime of work.
However, while I was working for Sony back in 1991, I took the opportunity to look up the first 150
12-inch albums they issued, along with their release dates and a sampling of matrix numbers for dates.
The 10-inch album series, which started in 1948, was dubbed the Lp (capital "L," lower case "p") for "long playing" record, and had matrix numbers like "Lp" 360/"Lp" 361 (quotes in original) for the 1948 10-inch album Dinah Shore Sings [Columbia CL-6004]. When they started making 12-inch albums, they were called "extra long playing" with the matrix numbers a somewhat cumbersome X"Lp" 8463, for example. We have just used the three capital letters XLP in this discography for simplicity, and because Columbia eventually came to their senses and started doing the same thing. Columbia had two main 10-inch series, the CL-6000 series followed by the CL-2500 series. The 10-inch albums were discontinued in 1956. The 12-inch series started with GL 500; this series continued (with the addition of a stereo prefix later) until the early 1970s, when Columbia finally switched to the series they use today.
The 12-inch series started in 1951 using a black label with silver print and a GL prefix. At mid-1953, with number 525, Columbia switched to the more familiar red label, and started using the CL- prefix for their 12-inch albums as well as their 10-inch albums. Reissues of the GL series used a red label and the CL- prefix instead of GL . The 12-inch Lps had a list price of $3.98, and the same material (with the same cover art) was often available on 7-inch EP sets, with a list price of $2.98. We have listed the corresponding EP set numbers where available.
It also should be noted that while the early albums are long-playing records, the sources for many of these releases were the masters for 78 rpm records of the '30s and '40s.
This Columbia Records discography is a work in progress. We will add pages as we have the time to do so. We will eventually cover the 10-inch and 12-inch Lp series, as well as the 33-1/3 rpm jukebox singles and the labels distributed by Columbia/CBS. Eventually, we will try to list albums issued by Columbia Special Products and Columbia House (Columbia Record Club). These will not be done soon, I suspect, due to the enormity of the job.
We would appreciate any additions or corrections to this discography. Just send them to us via e-mail. Both Sides Now is an information web page and is not connected in any way to Columbia Records or Sony Music. All of these records are out of print and we have none of these records for sale. If you are interested in obtaining copies of any of these, we'd suggest you follow the suggestions found on our "Frequently Asked Questions" page. This story and discography are copyright 1999, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2009 by Mike Callahan.