Rhino Records launches a quarterly series of limited-edition vinyl releases aimed at appealing to LP-loving audiophiles, featuring records cut directly from analog sources by one of the mastering industry’s most revered names, Kevin Gray. The first two releases in the Rhino High Fidelity series, both released today, are the Cars’ 1978 self-titled debut album and John Coltrane’s 1964 album “Coltrane’s Sound.”
It won’t be a high-volume series: releases will be limited to 5,000 numbered copies, with just two new titles per quarter. Each album in the catalog will have lacquers cut by Gray from the original analog tapes, pressed on 180 gram vinyl, with glossy, fold-out, “tip-on” jackets in the old-school style and additional printed inserts with modern essays or interviews.
The launch of the series represents an interest that some labels are trying to release their own albums aimed at audiophiles rather than licensing them to outside companies specializing in high-quality vinyl. Making Gray the face of the series signals to hardcore collectors that Rhino is serious, even if the release will be slow and deliberate.
“It will be an honor to master this series,” Gray said in a statement. “There’s so much variety to explore in Rhino’s catalog – from jazz to rock to R&B. Rhino has a very comprehensive catalog spanning five decades. The possibilities are amazing. I’m looking forward to it all.
Said Easton, the Cars guitarist, of that band’s Rhino High Fidelity release, “It’s like being in your studios. It’s like listening to a playback in the studio… It just blew my mind.
Easton spoke at a private event in downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday alongside Gray and Rhino Senior Vice President Patrick Milligan to launch the series with the press and other industry guests. After side 1 of “The Cars” was played aloud for party attendees at Common Wave, Easton joked that the band had often been told they should rename their debut album “Greatest hits”.
As additional material, the Cars release includes an interview with Easton about the equipment used on the album and track notes from producer Roy Thomas Baker, while the Coltrane album features an interview with famed producer Tom Dowd, who was a follow-up engineer on the ’64, as well as printed materials depicting the master tapes.
Rhino said the company will reveal the next pair of albums to be released in the High Fidelity series in the coming week.
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