Back to the web ringBack to the web ring

The Mars Polaris Mystery

(Voices In The Net, September 2006)


In 1999, Tangerine Dream's studio album Mars Polaris, subtitled 'Deep Space Highway To Red Rocks Pavilion', had been released. A short time after, a small number of copies of an alternate version, subtitled 'Original Motion Picture Space Reality', appeared in collectors' hands. Finally, in 2002, the following official information was published on Tangerine Dream's web site:


"We have been informed of an alternate version of Mars Polaris circulating the shops, which features a different tracklisting that consists of songs from the original Mars Polaris release and from Great Wall Of China. Upon investigation, we had to find out that this version indeed exists due to an error committed in the manufacturing plant. Shortly before the initial release of Great Wall Of China, a compilation CD, featuring a cross-section of the aforementioned and Mars Polaris, was planned for the purpose of collectively promoting Tangerine Dream's two latest studio efforts. A master was submitted to the manufacturing plant and a glass master was made, yet the effort was then cancelled in favor of a compilation project that would provide a larger overview of TDI's releases, which we deemed more efficient [editor note: this would become Tang-go]. Contrary to our orders, the glass master for this cross-section was not destroyed. It was then accidentally confused with the original master for Mars Polaris for one manufacturing run by the pressing plant. Artwork and labelprint from Mars Polaris were used, but what you hear on the disc is actually the cross-section that was intended for the promotional disc. Good news is, that only a few 100 copies of this mispressing exist. The only problem is that the faulty copies cannot be spotted from the outside because, appearance-wise, they are 100% identical to the regular Mars Polaris. The difference is that they feature 11 tracks from both Mars Polaris and Great Wall Of China, with a total playing time of 59:38 min., as opposed to 10 tracks and a total playing time of 70:55 min. on the original release. We will, of course, replace any copy of the mispressing immediately for a correct copy and apologize for any inconvenience this has caused."


Apart from the fact that no TD fan or collector would want to replace such an ultra-rare item for a regular release this information cannot be true: Though some copies of the mispressing seem to have appeared with the same cover artwork as the regular release, a number of copies feature a completely different artwork that proves that Mars Polaris originally was intended to have a different track listing, which, by the way, had indeed been published on the TDI web site before release. Some copies of this original release must have been sent to retail stores before TD decided to remove five of the eleven compositions (for later re-use on Great Wall Of China with different track titles, more fitting to that album's theme), replacing them by four new compositions and completely remixing one of the remaining tracks.


The reason for this behaviour can only be guessed, just as the reason for providing false information about this issue. Probably some of the original tracks were used while working on the soundtrack of Great Wall Of China (a movie, by the way, apparently no TD fan has seen a glimpse of so far), so they were no longer appropriate for Mars Polaris, or some tracks were replaced while preparing the live performance of Mars Polaris in 1999.


Other rumours said that the mis-pressing was indeed not planned as a compilation but in fact was disc one of the originally planned double CD release of Mars Polaris. Besides the fact that there was never any precise information about the second disc of this planned double CD release, the artwork proves that this rumour is not the truth, as well.


Anyway, scans of the artwork of both the official release and the mis-pressing are provided below, so every reader may make his own mind about this matter. Please note that these scans were made by two persons using different scanners, so any colour discrepancy might be a result of varying calibration of the scanners rather than different colours used for printing. You may want to click on an image to open a new browser window with the artwork in original size for further investigation.


Booklet pages 8 and 1 of official release


The booklets' front covers use the same photo but different type faces for the printing. Please note that the album's title (on both releases), as well as the printing of "Tangerine Dream" (on the official release only) are hardly visible on these scans, because they were printed in gold colour which seems to be black on the scans due to its reflective nature. The album's sub-title is completely different for both releases. The photo and most information of the official booklet's back page can be found on the outer side of the rear insert of the mispressing.


Booklet pages 4 and 1 of mispressing


The back side of the mispressing's booklet is essentially identical to page 2 of the official release; there are just some differences in typesetting and copyright notices.


Booklet pages 2 and 3 of official release


Page 3 of the official release and page 2 of the mispressing are almost the same as well, with the exception of one replaced photo.


Booklet pages 2 and 3 of mispressing


The information about the Mars Polar Lander and its photo on page 3 of the mispressing are unique for this release. They were not used for the official release at all. Only a small excerpt of the large photo showing Mons Olympus was re-used at a larger scale on page 5 of the official release.


Booklet pages 4 and 5 of official release


Page 4 of the official release shows a track listing identical to that on the rear insert, while the booklet of the mispressing does not feature a track listing at all.


Booklet pages 6 and 7 of official release


Page 6 of the official booklet features a quite mysterious story titled "The Martian Seal", being an excerpt of "The Seven Platonic Tales" by P.L. and E.F. -- obviously Peter Liendl (Tangerine Dream's computer assistant at that time, who also was co-author of a number of audio novels, including Der Meteor) and Edgar Froese. At time of writing the identity of the two brothers G.B. and C.R. the story tells about has not been reveiled. "The Seven Platonic Tales" has not been published yet, as well, a fate that it shares with "The Coachman's Tales", another work by Edgar Froese which had been quoted in the booklet of Turn Of The Tides five years before.

Page 7 finally shows four more photos which are not part of the artwork used for the mispressing.


Disc of official release

Disc of mispressing
Both discs are almost identical, apart from the fact that the TDI logo was moved to left of the title from below.

Another difference (which of course is not visible on these scans) is that the regular version has the matrix number "DOCdata Germany TDI EFA CD 63016 IFPI L357", while the mispressing has the matrix number "DOCdata Germany TDI CD 016 IFPI L357".


Rear Inserts

Rear insert (inner side) of official release

Rear insert (inner side) of mispressing
The inner side of the rear insert shows completely different artwork, while the text printed below is identical (apart from some minor differences in layout and spelling).

The photo showing the Mars surface was not used on the official release at all.



Rear insert (outer side) of official release

Rear insert (outer side) of mispressing
The outer side of the rear insert has some interesting differences (leaving aside the complety different layout). Most notable of course is the differing track listing, corresponding to the different compositions found on the two releases. A quite interesting detail is that the mispressing says "Composed and performed by Edgar Froese" without mentioning Jerome Froese at all. The official release instead states: "Composed and performed by Edgar and Jerome Froese". It is unknown whether the information on the mispressing is just an error or whether Jerome was not involved in this recording initially.

The extensive thank-you listing as well as the photo used on the rear insert of the mispressing was published on page 8 of the booklet of the official release. The photo used on the official release instead is just a re-coloured version of the front cover photo and was not used as part of the artwork of the mispressing.



© 2006 by Michael Berling; scans by Guillaume Souren and Michael Berling
Copyright/Disclaimer   © 2001-2021 by Michael Berling. Last Update: 2021-09-19 21:31