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Craft Recordings launch audiophile vinyl series with John Coltrane's Lush Life

One step lacquer process • Limited edition vinyl • Deluxe packaging

Craft Recordings are launching a new curated audiophile collection under the banner ‘Small Batch’, with a view to creating the highest quality vinyl reissues of legendary recordings. The inaugural release for this series will be John Coltrane‘s 1961 album Lush Life.

Issued by Prestige Records in early 1961 (around the same time as Atlantic’s Coltrane Jazz), long after Coltrane had left the label, the album was assembled from three separate recording sessions in 1957 and 1958 and features an all-star lineup of talent, including Red Garland on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, Donald Byrd on trumpet, and Art Taylor on drums. Upon its release, Lush Life was a critical and commercial success and is considered a highlight from his time on the Prestige label.
For Concord’s ‘Small Batch’ initiative, each album selected for the series will undergo all-analog mastering and then be pressed on 180-gram vinyl in a one-step lacquer process—as opposed to the standard three-step process—allowing for the highest level of musical detail, clarity, and dynamics while reducing the amount of surface noise on the record. Each title from the series will be accompanied by new liner notes from acclaimed writers.

For the Lush Life reissue, specifically, the original tapes—recorded live at Rudy Van Gelder’s Hackensack, NJ studios—were sent to mastering engineer Bernie Grundman, who carried out an all-analogue mastering process. The details are as follows: He utilised a custom tube pre-amp and analog mixing console with discreet electronics — both made in-house — as well as a Scully solid-state lathe with custom electronics.


The vinyl record is housed within a very high quality slipcase complete with cover art insert

Grundman’s lacquers were then sent to Record Technology Incorporated (RTI) for plating using the plant’s one-step process, as described above, where the lacquers are used to create a “convert” that becomes the record stamper. Utilising Neotech’s VR900 compound, Lush Life was then pressed on to 180-gram vinyl. Writer Ashley Kahn wrote the liner notes for this reissue.
The packaging (which SDE has seen in the flesh) is impressive. Each vinyl record recreates the presentation of the original, with ‘tip-on’ jacket and and archival-quality, anti-static, non-scratching inner sleeve. This record is then housed securely within a very high quality, linen-wrapped outer slipcase which has a glossy acrylic inset of the cover art on the front and is numbered on the back. The vinyl is extracted from this slipcase using a rather ingenious ribbon system.
Each title in the ‘Small Batch’ series will be limited to 1000 copies and Lush Life will be released on 19 February 2021. It is available exclusively via the Craft Recordings store.



Side A:

1.  Like Someone in Love
2.  I Love You
3.  Trane’s Slo Blues

Side B:

1.  Lush Life
2.  I Hear a Rhapsody

SuperDeluxeEdition.com helps fans around the world discover physical music and discuss releases. To keep the site free, SDE participates in various affiliate programs, including Amazon and earns from qualifying purchases.

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Tom M

Craft took a lot of heat for not making enough of these One-Steps, even though they indicated it was to be a small batch series. However, they’ve since indicated that in the future they will try to press more copies of the titles to help satisfy the demand.

Adey

Imagine if all copies sold out, if flippers sold most of them on at even higher prices, and then it was discovered there was a flaw in the pressings!
I agree with earlier posters, how about releasing high quality mfsl style cds? Although, as others have said, record companies cannot fleece cd buyers in the same way they can with vinyl fans…
Maybe thats why they’re pushing vinyl and cassettes instead of pushing (still very popular) cds.

Andy M

Have read sde for a long time but never posted before but a point that has only been briefly touched in seems important to me. Notwithstanding pressing quality, audio quality, or packaging the fact remains that this is not one of Coltrane’s best albums. A rough reckoning in my head put it about 20th (later cross referenced with bestalbums site which put it 19th). The album was put together after his departure to Atlantic from 3 separate sessions with differing instrumentation on each. My point, then, is why this album? Don’t get me wrong Coltrane’s 20th best is still better than most artisis’ number 1.

Dave Bain

This audiophile vinyl version probably costs more money than Trane himself ever earned from making the album.

Wayne C

I collect and play records like this I bought the Two Analogue Productions albums (Hendrix and Tull both costing well over £150)released on the redone UHQR series originally done by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab. Problem with this is 1,000 copies is just to low for such a title! Far Far to Low!. Sadly for me a fan of 50/60’s Jazz, for once I didn’t come on here and missed this completely!. They really should have looked at this and released 2,500 as a minimum quantity. A lot of people who have been lucky at buying this will be selling it at a considerable profit, who ever thought that vinyl would be the new go to destination for Scalpers. I look forward to whatever they do next – why anyone hasn’t looked at Soundgarden’s Classic Superunknown for such a release is beyond me. I bought a release by Craft a couple of months ago and was in the mailing list but didn’t get a Sniff of this at all.

Peter Muscutt

Not usually a jazz fan but gave this a try to see what it was like. It’s an amazing album, so much to hear on repeated listening; even my two year old wants it on at bedtime now as we read stories! As someone who enjoys writing I was never convinced by people who said they listened to jazz, I thought I’d never be able to “get into it”. But Lush Life is indeed accessible and enjoyable! I’ll be picking this up on vinyl – not this Craft Recordings version obviously now it’s sold out, but thanks for the intro to something different!
Can anyone recommend any other similar jazz to move onto after Coltrane?

Chumil

Dear Peter Muscutt
You might want to try these…
John Coltrane – “Ballads”
Miles Davis – ” ‘Round Midnight”
Miles Davis – “Kind of Blue”
Chet Baker – “Chet Baker Sings”
Billie Holiday – “Lady Sings the Blues”
And for your two year old I think that the album “Lullabies” by Dave Brubeck would be perfect (perfect for you too btw).
Anyway, I could be name dropping artists and album titles forever because Jazz is an unlimited source of masterpieces (just let me know and I will).
And if you and the two year old feel bold how about giving Maria Callas a chance? She is the definition of “masterpiece” even though she is not Jazz. And if you are only going to buy one SDE box set ever her “Remastered – The Complete Studio Recordings (1949-1969)” is imho the best SDE box set ever released. As the late Franco Zeffirelli said “The only way to talk about music is in the terms of an BC and AC era, BC is before Callas and AC is after Callas”.
Sorry got a little carried away there…

Michael

Other classic jazz titles Peter may want to consider:
John Coltrane “Blue Train”
The Dave Brubeck Quartet “Time Out”
Wynton Marsalis “Hot House Flowers” (jazz trumpet with string orchestra)
Bill Evans Trio “Waltz for Debby” (jazz piano)
Vince Guaraldi “The Definitive Vince Guaraldi”

John MC cann

Just the obvious ones! kind of blue ,in a silent way ,sketches of Spain, what I’ve heard of thelonious monk is quite nice as well !

Mike M

Just putting this out there. I have paid £80 for an audiophile one step pressing of this album. OGs sell for approximately £200 on Discogs. In fact the only OG available in UK right now costs £295 and is only rated VG+. Taking that into account I did good. Zero regrets.

Paul E.

I don’t have a very current perspective on vinyl since I moved to CD in 1985 [at 15]. I will say that I have over 200 Mobile Fidelity discs in my collection and recall most retailed for $29.99. That said, I think $60.00 plus for a single LP/vinyl pressing is certainly in line with historic price points…factoring in low pressings, limited editions, etc. may demand higher prices.
As I assess the value of my MFSL CD collection, in almost all cases, it has increased over time (not that I have any intention of selling them). Additionally, most of those CD pressings represent the best audio version that particular title has been released in. A very clear illustration is Beck’s “Sea Change” UDCD 780 – comparing the MFSL format to the mass produced disc isn’t even fair (it’s just that amazing). The median sold price currently on Discogs is $55.85 for that item as it’s basically doubled in value in just 11 years. If a company betters the sound from the original and I enjoy that album, it’s worth another purchase in the same way a Super Deluxe Edition box set might be with additional content/remastering. There are parallels here and it makes sense to me that these are being mentioned here on SDE.
I suppose if you’re looking at the sticker price only and unwilling to consider any other attribute- than you are mathematically correct. But I’d argue that point upon resale. I’ve never considered my 7,000 plus CD collection an investment. I’ve had to sacrifice floor space to support a collection of this size (or more accurately…my wife has) but it’s been worth every square foot and I don’t regret it for one day.

Alan Mitchell

Blue Note Reimagined. On Blue Note funnily enough. And the Tone Poet series on the label is really excellent. Bought Grant Green’s Nigeria last year. Everything about it is wonderful, the pressing, the gatefold sleeve material, the colour and gloss finish. Expensive but truly worth every single pound.
Not being snobbish (well I am) but when people talk about Lana Del Ray’s “masterpiece” and I’ve got the above as a reference… well its like taking the wife to Gregg’s for our anniversary instead of The Ritz.

Steven Roberts

On Lana Del Ray’s “masterpiece” … ” it’s like taking the wife to Gregg’s for our anniversary instead of The Ritz”.
They should use that on the advertising!

Gary Tilford

Just to add to my earlier message. I am a collector but I only buy stuff that I like. Everything that I buy gets opened and played. I love my music collection so nothing gets left sealed to sell on later.

madman

I know this site is more rock then jazz oriented, but I’d like to know more about these releases as well, even if I can’t afford them. It’s nice to know they’re out there.
And this one is sold out, so congrats to those of you who ordered!

John MC cann

Fine Wine is probably not the best example!
It’s only the price of 11 bottles of buckfast!

Ern

If you like your jazz, check out the Soho Scene compilation albums. Each release covers a different year. The years covered are 1959 to 1967.
You can get them on vinyl, while the CDs are double CD issues, one CD featuring UK artists and the other CD featuring US artists.
Throw on Soho Scene, get some red lightbulbs, a smoke machine and recreate the atmosphere of those long gone jazz clubs.
A lot cheaper than buying this Coltrane album, although it is nicely packaged.

Danny

absolutely! some great records available especially over on the Rythm & Blues shop

Julian John Hancock

I think we are entering the realms, if we haven’t already, whereby these sorts of release are more like the finest wines bought for investment. The wines are marvellous, but they arent bought to be drunk. Similarly, many of these records will never be played, not least because the value drops the moment you do play them

JJH

I didn’t suggest it was a problem, simply that the records are in many cases being bought as an investment, rather than to played. In that sense the record market has simply caught up with people who collect toys, teddy bears etc. They also like them, but often don’t take them out if the packet. The Sus nothing wrong with this, but it does mean that, like the wine, things start being priced on their ability to gain value.

Mike M

I disagree, I jumped on this release when it was announced and I can’t wait to spin it. I buy my records to play them.

JJH

I don’t doubt you will. Whether or not you representative of other buyers is another point. Some readers might remember seeing this a few years back
“Nearly half of vinyl buyers do not actually play the records they purchase, according to a new survey. Some 41 percent of vinyl buyers polled by ICM said they own a turntable which they do not use, while a further seven percent admitted that they do not even own a turntable”.
Perhaps times have changed, but I suspect not, particularly when it comes to higher value items and multi-record sets.

Gary Tilford

It’s quite clear that people are willing to pay £75 for a single record due to the very fast sellout. It looks like they have done a very good job with this first release. I don’t think I would pay that much but you never know. I can’t fault anyone who bought this. We are all collectors to some degree aren’t we? or we wouldn’t be constantly looking at Paul’s fantastic site. Nuf sed.

Michael

Very true, Gary.
I’m to the point that I collect more physical music than I have time to play. Still, I can’t resist pursuing another unique item for my music collection. Unfortunately, the Small Batch version of “Lush Life” was sold out by the time I read this, but at least I was fortunate enough last year to obtain the limited edition 180 gram pink coloured vinyl pressing of John Coltrane’s “Lush Life” from Craft Recordings.

Bogdan

Thanks for covering this release on SDE, Paul. Would love to see more of these jazz audiophile all-analog reissues get a mention. It seems audiophile labels are racing to create these “one-steps”: MoFi (UltraDisc One Step), Analogue Productions (UHQR), more recently IMPEX and now Craft. Even leaving aside these high-end releases, it’s a great time to be a jazz vinyl reissue fan, with Blue Note’s exquisite Tone Poet and Classic series (both all-analogue, cut by Kevin Gray), as well as the Acoustic Sounds reissue series (supervised by Chad Kassem). They all sound magnificent. I won’t get into the vinyl vs. CD debate, but I very much doubt there is any better way to hear these jazz albums, save for listening to the master tape itself. Original copies of these legendary albums go for ridiculous prices on the market, so it’s great they are now available to a wider audience (I’m referring to the Blue Note and Acoustic Sounds reissues, which typically go for 25-35$). As for the limited run of these “one-steps” (the others I mentioned are not limited), well you can argue about why they don’t produce more, if there’s a market for them, but I think what they ultimately want is to maintain the value of a premium physical product and certainly the value of the music itself. Music has sadly lost a lot of its value and importance and has become a commodity, thanks in no small measure to the advent of streaming, which allows one to “consume” music on the go, anytime and anyplace, paying next to nothing for it.

blink

If you want to reduce the level of surface noise even further, issue it on CD… it’s cheaper too.
The only downside (from the label’s perspective that is) is that you could never squeeze these kinds of prices out of CDs

Jerry

totally agree

Mike M

Totally disagree, I can remember paying £35 for the White album 25 years ago. Preferred format for most SDEs is still CDs also.

-SG-

Right, one overzealous needle drop and there goes your prefect record. Well mastered CD/SACD audio is the more practical product, but for a hardcore Coltrane fan and I know a few this is the best chance to get this album in this quality. In all fairness this really should get a wider release in a more affordable package. The fact that audiophile products have been relegated to $100+ preseings… and let’s face it there are even more expensive reissues out there, shows that there is a market for well mastered product, even, dare I say beyond the limited fetish market like this product, ahh all to get closer to that elusive “aura of authenticity” . Humorous that this was originally deemed unreleasable barrel scrapings, released for the sake of cashing in. $100,000 after a couple of hours on the market, Lush life indeed.

Simon Franklin

Life has surface noise – John Peel

Bridge

People are prepared to spend this kind of money…obviously evidenced here. Sold out in minutes. Prices will continue to skyrocket as long as people continue to pay. I’m guilty of this unfortunately, but you want it, you’ll pay for it.

fernand de Beauvoir

in another perspective:
• the merits of fidelity can be questioned, though cherished by some (even if placebo effect);
• these editions are not the unique source of the recording, thus not a “repression” of access;
• more like a Veblen Good, than a normal issue: librarians are fine, collectors pay the price;
• if bought, any release of the form, will retain its value: a bit like collecting rare wines, in enjoying some and not losing money when sold. like paintings and photography, these issues are more like assets than the music— but they can co-exist just fine.
while not as expensive, the colour vinyl craze offers these kinds of monetary loss-floor, if not a profit. I think the German language Kraftwerk reissues are a good example: the readily available black are sonic equals (no?) but the value of the colour ones may be much higher later.

Paul Mac

Any idea what future releases like this by Craft? I’m wondering will it be all jazz or classical releases, or will there rock/pop/whatever releases as well….

Beechlander

Looking at the roster of Craft Recording albums on discogs quite a mixture of artists/genres are covered – plenty of jazz but there’s REM, Nine Inch Nails, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Travis as well. Don’t think I’d be able to resist a copy of “Automatic for the People” or “Pretty Hate Machine” from this series.

Tom M

Craft has access to the Concord group and there is a lot of great music on the Stax, Fantasy, Prestige labels, etc.

Steven Roberts

It makes you wonder why the big labels don’t get in on this. I mean, if Mofi and Craft (and others) can do these all-analogue super-deluxe sets and presumably turn a profit (Mofi, remember, has to pay licensing fees to the labels), why don’t Universal or Warners just cut out the middle-man and do it themselves?
No, wait, forget I said any of that! Don’t want to give the Bowie camp any more ideas……

-SG-

Pointless. At 1000 copies, this seems like more of a hype tool than an actual product. They would be much smarter to take 1 week of pre orders and then press accordingly.

Different Time

It’s not pointless and it’s not hype. It’s a collectors piece. Its limited availability is the reason why they sold 1,000 copies in minutes.

Different Time

It’s one for audiophiles / collectors. The market for bespoke pieces like this is very healthy at the moment and Craft obviously knew that it was going to fly off the shelves. If you’re not into these elaborate releases, you can pick up the album on CD for not much more than a tenner.

Paul bradshaw

Massive FAIL from Craft ! Really ! only a 1000 copies worldwide of a jazz classic is poor planning,especially when it sells out in 2 hours .
. Mobile Fidelity’s One Step releases are being pressed in quantities of over 4000 and selling out.

ARidd

Never mind! They can just take a leaf out of Neil Young’s book and have a “2nd release” by changing the colour of a word or two on the sleeve.
Also Craft aren’t charging enough anyway – it’s still cheaper than the new vinyl of After The Goldrush!

Danny

there’s one on ebay already showing at £495! Although it says no returns accepted.
hmmm?

Nick

Yes The same seller sold 2 copies for £385 and £395, be interesting to see if craft send him 2 copies when it was limited to 1 and also if Craft Increase the prices of the next in the series seeing that ebay buyers are paying just short of £400.00!

AdamW

I’m trying to imagine all the albums I love that would merit a $100 investment for such a presentation, and… honestly, I’m coming up nearly empty. Maybe it’s because I’m not a jazz or classical music lover, but honestly, for the rock/post-punk/new-wave/alternative/experimental-dance music genres that make up the vast majority of my listening, decently-mastered $12 CDs sound just fine.

colm47

The Only Ones : Even Serpents Shine
Joy Division : Unknown Pleasures or Closer
The Jam : Setting Sons or All Mod Cons
Patti Smith Group : Horses
Television: Marquee Moon
There’s a few suggestions…

AdamW

Sure, those are all great albums. But I can get any of those on vinyl already for $20-$35, and decent sounding CDs for even less than that. I don’t care how much money you have thrown at your hi-fi, none of these fancy vinyl production processes are going to make Marquee Moon or Closer sound so much better that it’s worth spending 3-5x more on a package like this.

johneffay

It’s as much about the object as sound quality, though, much like a lot of SDEs.
I’ve got the original vinyl, 3 different CD versions, plus a DVD, but if they did something like this for Hawkwind’s Space Ritual I’d definitely want to get my hands on it.

AdamW

“It’s as much about the object as sound quality, though.”
There’s an element of that, sure. I like a decent package as much as any SDE reader – I bought the Art Of The Album red-vinyl issue of the self-titled Suicide album, a record that you’d be very hard-pressed to make sound better using any manufacturing process you can conjure. You could even argue that its grittiness is part of its appeal and that trying to make it sound better is counter to the album’s aesthetic, and you wouldn’t be wrong. That said, the liner notes are excellent, the packaging is well-done, the remastering sounds authentic, and red vinyl makes sense for it.
All for under $30.
My ultimate point is, if you want a collector’s item for the sake of having a collector’s item, no one is going to stop you from spending whatever you want on it. Heaven knows there’s plenty of that about, even right here on this website. But if you just want to listen to a great-sounding version of your favorite album in a great package, there’s no need to be concerned that you’re missing out by not spending 3-5x on “one-step vinyl process” nonsense; the odds that it will genuinely improve anyone’s listening experience approach nil.

AdamW

I apologize for the over-editorializing. I have an extreme allergy to audiophile-marketing woo, and a lot of this falls squarely into that category. :-)

AdamW

This from the guy who called the collector’s edition of the new Lana Del Rey album “a bit rubbish.” :-) I apologize for over-editorializing, but that and this vinyl manufacturing process are both marketing schemes. On this site, however, one is featured, and one is disdained. I don’t see any reason they shouldn’t be treated equally.

The Golden Age Of The Phonograph

I know I once said on this forum that £100 was a daft price for a single vinyl LP, I think it was in relation to a Mobile Fidelity release, I`m not sure about the album.
Anyhow what do I do? I go and spend £300 on a single vinyl LP. It was the Electric Recording Company`s release of my favourite album ever and the only album I`d consider spending so much on. The album? Love`s `Forever Changes`, ERC`s Mono issue.
Was it worth it? IMHO no! I have what I consider a very good Hi-Fi system, not five figures but half way there. So I reckon I am set up for high quality play back of the album. The result I was very underwhelmed. The vinyl was very high quality, no snap, crackle and pops, nice playback but… is it worth 8 times I paid for the 2x45rpm Mofi version. No way, I know I was comparing Mono to Stereo however I feel £300 waqs way too much for this album and will go as far as saying £75 is way too much.
I did intend also getting the Stereo ERC of `Forever Changes` (another £300) but after my experience with the Mono version I abstained.
To be fair a lot of people have waxed lyrical about both the Mono & Stereo editions and I`m glad they are happy with them. Whether I over reacted and expected too much, maybe not. I do know the person I sold my Mono copy of FC* to is very happy with it.
*For the same amount I paid, no profiteering on my part, I`d like to add.
So it`s no more paying daft prices for me even for The Majestic Forever Changes.

Tomasz

You may have MONO LP edition of FC issued last year by Warner …

chibb

Any idea which albums/artists will be released in the rest of the series?

Michael

well it looks nice. If they ever do a record that is one of my absolute favourites, then I might go for it. It is too costly though for anything below that level of love though for me.

jay

The product seems impressive and I am happy they are offering it, plus Craft has (at least for now) beaten MFSL’s price tag for their one-step process vinyl by a good percentage which is nice… but yeah, still far too rich for me. If they did this for, say, R.E.M.’s Murmur then I would scoop it up, but outside of that I can’t see it happening. For those that can afford it, enjoy.

Arcweld

Sold out at £75. As much as people complain about high prices with Neil Young ATGR at £100, someone is buying at these prices. Fans? Speculators? Idiots? But if the market sets the price perhaps record companies are pricing right for a very specific market segment…….each to their own I guess as much as £100 for a single vinyl is nuts in my mind, I have spent £300+ on grateful dead sets, which I justified to myself…..I just hope my wife does not sell it for what I told her i paid for it after I am gone….

Tom

Sold out already, so there are obviously enough people out there willing to splash £76 on an album.

Darren Linklater

Sold out. Just shows there is a strong market for high quality reissues.

SeanL

Great product, great album….no so great price ! £75 is a little more than I can afford in these COVID times unfortunately

Jeremy

It’s already sold out. Ridiculous to produce so few copies.

Steven Roberts

If they’d pressed more then there wouldn’t have been the same urgency to “put the money down”.
Nothing to stop them pressing more if the demand is there, I guess.

Mike M

Hyped for this, easy buy. Cheers Paul

Graham Dyer

Thanks for the notification Paul, I’ve grabbed a copy. Cheers Graham

Soren

I like the Jazz input on SDE I am just started to buy
Jazz on vinyl.

BigSte

Was loving everything about this, process, mastering, details until i got to the bottom and found the price. Would have to be a special record to get close to clicking that.
I’m sure it’ll sell well however.

Matthew S North

Nice looking album but too pricy for me