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April Record Store Day LP Offerings from Craft Recordings

04-16-2024 | By Tom Gibbs | Issue 132

Craft Recordings is offering another cool slate of limited-edition LPs for the upcoming Saturday, April 20th celebration of Record Store Day 2024 (RSD). Craft's selection of rarities and specialty releases are only a few of the literally hundreds of exciting records that will be available online and at independent record stores everywhere. For RSD April, Craft is offering eight exclusive releases, starting with a rare mono edition of pianist Bill Evans' classic Everybody Digs Bill Evans (1958), offered as a 180 gram black vinyl LP. There's also a 25th Anniversary release of alternative rockers Collective Soul's multi-platinum Dosage (1999), which is being offered as a translucent lemonade vinyl LP. Also among Craft's releases is El Paso alternative art-rock/punk band At The Drive In's in/CASINO/OUT (1998), offered in a purple and green smoke colored vinyl LP. And there's a first-ever LP release of alt rock/metal band Filter's The Very Best Things: 1995-2008 (2009) on a pair of mercury-swirl colored vinyl LPs.

Inner World (2020) is a unique release and was a global hit for His Holiness the Dalai Lama on a gold vinyl LP. Craft is also featuring another of the excellent compilations from Jazz Dispensary with The Freedom Sound! The People Arise (2024), offered on a freedom blue swirled vinyl LP. A pair of soundtrack albums is also being made available in this RSD release, featuring Orca: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1977) from Ennio Morricone in a "blood in the water" colored vinyl LP. And finally, there's Black Girl: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1972), which is being offered on a 180 gram clear black swirl vinyl LP. 

I received five of the eight available album titles for review, including Bill Evans' Everybody Digs Bill Evans [in Mono], Collective Soul's Dosage, At The Drive In's in/CASINO/OUT, The Dalai Lama's Inner World, and finally, Black Girl: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. With regard to Record Store Day pricing of LPs, Craft Recordings allows a certain amount of latitude in RSD pricing to the independent and online outlets participating in the event, so the actual prices for these albums may vary slightly at the point of sale. You can see a list of all outlets participating in RSD 2024 by clicking HERE

Bill Evans, Everybody Digs Bill Evans [in Mono]. 180 gram black LP.

Everybody Digs Bill Evans [in Mono] is the RSD 2024 title I've had my knickers in a twist over from the point of its announcement. While I love my stereo LPs of this album, since I have a dedicated mono turntable/cartridge setup, I've been jonesing for a mono disc, especially since the record was originally released in mono. Everybody Digs Bill Evans was last released domestically in the original mono in 1966, meaning it's been out of print as an LP for almost 60 years! This AAA, special edition version had lacquers cut from the original master tapes by Matthew Lutthans at Cohearent Audio, and the 180 gram black vinyl LPs were pressed at RTI. The heavy outer jackets were printed by Stoughton using their classic tip-on process, and the metallic gold ink used on the jacket is embellished with a high-gloss coating. Of the multiple versions I own, Craft's new special edition is far and away the most beautiful I've ever seen!

Everybody Digs Bill Evans was Evans' sophomore effort; the genius that he only hinted at during his short stay with Miles Davis was brought into full view on this excellent record. Which showed his continued musical growth to great effect, preparing him for the next stage of his career with the legendary trio that featured the great Scott LaFaro on bass. This is old-school, wide mono where the realism of the image cast between the loudspeakers is astonishingly palpable with stunning realism. The pressing from RTI was pristine, with no surface marks whatsoever, and there was no noise at all during playback. It's a beautiful LP package, and I've never heard this music sound so very good as on this new RSD LP. Very highly recommended—you should get in line or on the internet early!

Collective Soul, Dosage, 140 gram translucent lemonade LP.

Hearing deep tracks from Collective Soul albums was part and parcel with living in the metro Atlanta area during their heyday. And despite the band's manic level of popularity and multi platinum record sales on a national level, the band had many songs that were just as good as the many that reached the top of the charts. I noticed that on the recent release of their greatest hits album, 7even Year Itch, which could easily have been expanded to a double LP. 1999's Dosage, was Collective Soul's fourth studio album, and was a surprise hit for the band, reaching platinum sales status. Album sales were propelled by a pair of singles, including "Heavy" which spent 15 weeks at the top of the Billboard charts, along with "Run" which also topped the charts. The CD was king during that period, so I never owned any of their albums in any LP format until the last few years, but I've been picking them up as they've arrived on the scene. As far as I can tell from a fairly exhaustive search, Dosage has until now never been made available as an LP.

And that LP is really cool! The translucent lemonade colored LP appears to be pressed on standard weight 140 gram vinyl; the album was beautifully pristine, and displayed no imperfections or groove noise of any kind. "Tremble For My Beloved" opens the album with a slow build to a blistering guitar theme that sets the stage for the album's huge hit, "Heavy," which is instantly gripping with its propulsive groove, easily showing why it topped the charts for much of 1999. "No More No" slows the tone of the album down a bit with an irresistible bass, drums, and guitar vamp leading into Ed Roland's smooth vocal. "Slow" is another raucous tune that was anything but slow, and got tons of airplay locally, while "Run" took the band back into power ballad territory and back to the top of the charts. This is a great sounding LP, and Collective Soul's powerful and instantly recognizable mix of propulsive alternative rock and power ballads absolutely leaps from the grooves—this was an exceptionally good band, and this RSD release is an exceptional album, musically as well as visually! Highly recommended!

At The Drive In, in/CASINO/OUT. 140 gram purple and green smoke LP.

in/CASINO/OUT was the sophomore release for El Paso post-harcore/emo band At The Drive In. The band had become renowned for their live shows, and wanted a "live in the studio" sound for their second album. Which was recorded with very few overdubs and essentially live in the studio over a seven-day period at Messenger's Studio in Hollywood in June 1998. The band has said that they felt pressured by the manic pace of the studio recordings, but also noted that perhaps that helped authenticate the sound they were looking for. Three of the album's tracks, "Napoleon Solo," "Chanbara," and "Alpha Centauri," were emblematic of the band's high-energy sound and eventually became staples of their live shows. Rolling Stone placed in/CASINO/OUT on their "40 Greatest EMO Albums Of All Time" in 2012.

The album was originally released on both CD and LP in 1998, and has only seen one other limited LP release in 2012; that release went to the number one spot on Billboard's LP charts. Otherwise, in/CASINO/OUT has been out-of-print as an LP for over 25 years, and fans will welcome this new RSD 2024 release. The album package is beautiful, and the 140 gram purple and green smoke LP is not only really cool to look at, but also sounds exceptionally great. Not every song is quite as manically propulsive as the hits, but it's an excellent mix of styles that shows the band to be much more than just a three-chord post-punk outfit. And clearly shows why this band had such a rabid following into the 2010s. Whether or not in/CASINO/OUT has been on your radar, you need to hear this exceptional album. Highly recommended!

The Dalai Lama, Inner World. 140 gram gold LP.

With the entire planet in the grip of the pandemic, in mid-2020, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama wanted to do something to help people across the globe find inner peace and hope in a time of anxiety and fear. By doing something no Tibetan spiritual leader of his stature had ever done: he recorded an album of sacred prayers, mantras and teachings. He wanted his spoken word selections to have musical accompaniment, and solicited contributions from a host of artists, including sitar player Anoushka Shankar and composer Abraham Kunin. Inner World was the result of those recordings, and became a surprise international hit, reaching the number one slot on Billboard's New Age chart, while also cracking the top 10 of the World Music chart. At the point of its original release, only CDs and digital files were made available, but for RSD 2024, Craft is offering for the first time ever an LP of Inner World pressed on gold colored vinyl. 

The music here is a mix of new age-inspired, heavily acoustic numbers awash in Eastern influences, along with others that are more in the trance/electronica vein. And there are long instrumental breaks in between the Dalai Lama's spoken word segments, which are mostly prayers, chants, mantras, and meditations, with some of them in English and others in his native Tibetan. The Dalai Lama was 85 years old when this record was recorded, and some of his spoken performances make this fairly obvious, but I still found the album to be a rewarding journey into the mystical and profound. "Ama La" (Our Mother)—the number that features Anoushka Shankar—is particularly enchanting, and her sitar playing interspersed between a background of ethereal electronica is pretty divine! I have a fairly extensive collection of Buddha-related statuary and objects, and I also have a great deal of respect for the teachings and philosophies of Buddhism, so I found this record very enlightening. The LP is really beautiful in its gold opaque vinyl, and the sound quality was superb. Recommended.


Black Girl: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. 180 gram clear black swirl LP.

Craft Recordings' imprint Varese Sarabande has just introduced a new series, Reel Cult, which focuses on reissues of cult classic, B-movie soundtracks. For RSD 2024, they're reissuing the soundtrack of the 1972 cult film Black Girl, which was directed by Ossie Davis and starred Peggy Pettitt, Brock Peters, Leslie Uggams, and Claudia McNeil. The film was a frank portrayal of the struggles faced by black women in the 1970's, and came at the peak of the Black Power and feminist movements of the day. Black Girl: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is being reissued for the first time in over fifty years, and arrives in the form of a clear black swirl 180 gram LP. The album is presented in a heavy, Stoughton-style tip-on outer jacket that also sports a very cool OBI strip. It's a really nice, limited edition LP package!

Black Girl: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack features music from Ed Bogas and Ray Shanklin, the masterminds behind the music from the cult classics Fritz the Cat and Heavy Traffic. The heavy funk and soul-jazz inflected instrumental numbers featured notable jazz artists like Sonny Stitt, John Hunt, and Merl Saunders. While the soulful vocals were provided by the likes of Betty Everett, Rodger Collins, and JJ Malone. "B.J.'s Step," the first instrumental number, features a really cool bass, drums, and wah-wah guitar vamp that's layered with horns and psychedelic keyboard as the tune proceeds. Rodger Collins brings the funk with a very James Brown-inspired version of "Get Me To The Bridge On Time" that has an off-kilter spoken interlude in the song's center. "Mother's Day Song I" opens with a very gospel-tinged piano solo; it's followed by "Power," which changes the direction 180 into a smooth funk groove with bass, drums, vibes, and trumpet bursts, all layered effectively with strings. "Mothers Day Song II" continues the gospel piano vibe, but is soon joined by Hammond organ and a full gospel choir. "What It Is" is a full-blown soul/funk stomp that's punctuated throughout by a full horn section. You get the picture—Black Girl offers a really eclectic mix that takes the listener across the full gamut of the Blaxplo experience. Recommended. 

Record Store Day 2024 is Coming Up Quickly!

In addition to the LP releases available on Record Store Day, many of these albums may also soon be available for digital streaming on most major services. While Bill Evans' Everybody Digs Bill Evans [in Mono] was definitely the magic button for me among Craft's releases for RSD Spring 2024, all of their titles were exciting and musically compelling. Craft Recordings has once again offered limited edition releases that are not only musically, but also visually stimulating—the colored vinyl LPs are exceptionally beautiful and quite desirable. Don't hesitate to pull the trigger on Saturday—some of these LPs won't last too long!

Craft Recordings


All images courtesy of Craft Recordings.