Rhino Launches Audiophile Vinyl Series With Albums by the Cars and John Coltrane, Cut From Analog Tapes by Kevin Gray

Rhino Records is launching a quarterly series of limited-edition vinyl releases intended to appeal to LP-loving audiophiles, with records that are cut directly from analog sources by one of the most revered names in the mastering business, Kevin Gray. The first two releases in the Rhino High Fidelity series, both out today, are the Cars’ self-titled debut album from 1978 and John Coltrane’s 1964 album “Coltrane’s Sound.”

It won’t be a high-volume series: The releases will be limited to 5,000 numbered copies, with only two new titles issued per quarter. Each catalog album 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 supplemental printed inserts with modern essays or interviews.

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The launch of the series represents an interest some labels are taking in trying to issue their own audiophile-targeted albums rather than license them to outside companies that specialize in high-grade vinyl. Making Gray the face of the series tells hardcore collectors that Rhino means business, even though the output will be slow and deliberate.

“It will be an honor to master this series,” Gray said in a statement. “There is so much variety to explore in the Rhino catalog — everything from jazz to rock to R&B. Rhino has a very deep catalog spanning across five decades. The possibilities are incredible. I look forward to all of it.”

Said Easton, the guitarist for the Cars, of that group’s Rhino High Fidelity release, “It’s like being in your studios. It’s like listening to a studio playback… It just blew my mind.”

Easton spoke at a private event held Tuesday in downtown L.A., along with Gray and Rhino’s senior VP of A&R, Patrick Milligan, to launch the series with press and other industry invitees. After side 1 of “The Cars” was played loudly for attendees at the party at Common Wave, Easton joked that the group had often been told that they should rename their debut album “Greatest Hits.”

John Coltrane’s “Coltrane’s Sound,” part of the Rhino High Fidelity series
John Coltrane’s “Coltrane’s Sound,” part of the Rhino High Fidelity series

As supplemental material goes, the Cars’ release includes an interview with Easton about the gear used on the album, and producer Roy Thomas Baker’s tracking notes, while the Coltrane album features an interview with famed producer Tom Dowd, who served as tracking engineer on the ’64 release, along with printed material representing 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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