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Stamp Albums

Graphic Design, Illustration

Posted by Gavin Lucas, 6 November 2009, 13:25    Permalink    Comments (50)

Next year the Royal Mail will launch its stamp programme with a set of ten 1st class stamps designed by Studio Dempsey that celebrate classic British album covers - including Blur's Parklife (designed by Chris Thomson / Stylorouge. Photography: Bob Thomas), and New Order's Power, Corruption and Lies (designed by Peter Saville) - both shown above.

Deciding what album covers to include was no easy task. Royal Mail tell us that they began the process by trawling through various existing polls of Greatest Album Covers. They also enlisted the help of editors from various leading UK music publications along with graphic designers and design writers who were asked to list the most significant album sleeve artwork used on records by British artists. The final selection of ten sleeves (which perhaps oddly doesn't feature one of The Beatles' album covers) will appear on a set of 10 stamps that will launch on January 7, 2010 - and the stamps will be uniquely shaped, as shown in these images, to accommodate a glimpse of a vinyl disc poking out of each record sleeve.

Above left: Led Zeppelin IV (1971) sleeve was art directed by the band's Jimmy Page who wanted "total anonymity" hence no mention of the band's name on the sleeve. At the time, one executive at the band's label Atlantic described this move as "commercial suicide". 32 million people disagreed! Design by Graphreaks. Above right: Primal Scream's seminal 1991 album Screamadelica features a design by Paul Cannell inspired by Picasso

Above left: Rolling Stones' 1969 album Let It Bleed cover by Robert Brownjohn. Above right: David Bowie's 1972 album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars sports this cover by Main Artery that features a photograph of Bowie in full stage costume taken by Brian Ward in Heddon Street in central London

Above left: The sleeve of London Calling by The Clash (1979) features a photograph of bassist Paul Simonon smashing his bass on stage - as shot by Pennie Smith. Designer Ray Lowry's design is apparently a homage to Elvis Presley's debut album layout. Above right: Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells (1973) sleeve is by Trevor Key

Above left: Pink Floyd's 1994 album The Division Bell, art directed by Storm Thorgerson features sculptures by John Robertson which were shot in a field outside Ely in Cambridgeshire. Above right: Coldplay's A Rush Of Blood To The Head (2002). Art directed by Blue Source and Coldplay. Cover image by Sølve Sundsbø, in collaboration with Alexander Rutterford and Lost In Space

Stamp design by Studio Dempsey

50 Comments

Great job Mr Dempsey! Good selection too...

Wish I was lucky enough to work on that!

Im not sure but hasn't Beatles album covers on stamps been done before !-)
AK
2009-11-06 15:36:28


wow these look amazing
Patrick (Art Sponge)
2009-11-06 15:45:18


nice idea! And nice reminder of timeless Album Covers.. as a young designer and consumer of commercial music I needed that reminder..

Let me know when there out, I'm buying them to collect!
Diaghe
2009-11-06 15:55:29


Nice. But as far as I know the Coldplay image was not done originally for Coldplay. It was done for an advert and Chris Martin saw it, and went "I want that for my cover".
Ian
2009-11-06 15:59:44


@Ian

Yes, it was originally done for Dazed and Confused using a scanning machine developed for American air force pilots, "to get their helmets to fit their heads better" as he told The Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2008/feb/14/photography.art
CR PatrickBurgoyne
2009-11-06 16:19:12


Nive but ,mmm, remember me Johnson Banks, maybe is the reason why not there are the Beatles.



http://www.johnsonbanks.co.uk/thoughtfortheweek/index.php?thoughtid=141
Vincenzo Gentile
2009-11-06 16:49:10


yes that's prob why they didn't have the beatles - they'd have to choose them all as theyre all classics.
nl
2009-11-06 17:01:12


It's a nice idea, especially the records poking out. The link between the Elvis cover and the Clash is fairly plain to see: http://is.gd/4P0aX

As for the Beatles, none of their covers are actually that notable, apart from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Their best sleeve is this one from a US compilation: http://is.gd/4P0lB
Joe Mahon
2009-11-06 17:57:26


Beautiful.
Jacob
2009-11-06 18:02:18


@Joe

Revolver, the white album, abbey road.. there are so many notable beatles covers.

Would have been good to see a barney bubbles cover or farrow/pet shop boys cover on a stamp, nevertheless a great selection
Tom
2009-11-06 20:56:00


What, no stamps celebrating The Fall? Tsssk. Royal Mail, I DEMAND a 'Perverted by Language' stamp post haste. While you're at it, some Autechre sleeves would be nice, as well as 'Unknown Pleasures', 'Richard D James Album', 'Bummed' and 'Never Mind the Bollocks'.

The human race should be thankful Royal Mail didn't plump for Keane... But really, is Coldplay's effort actually regarded as a classic? What is the world coming to?
Alex Szabo-Haslam
2009-11-07 09:49:03


No Sgt Pepper? The Division Bell instead of the iconic Dark Side Of The Moon sleeve? The Clash instead of the hugely influential Never Mind The Bollocks sleeve by Jamie Reid? Sacrilege.

This seems more a celebration of successful British bands rather than important and influential graphic design.
Jeremy
2009-11-07 09:56:18


i concur with jeremy, there are better british album covers, i'm very confused as to why coldplay, mike oldfield and that specific pink floyd cover is in the mix.
andré
2009-11-08 09:13:14


It's easy to question classics not included, better to celebrate the breath and brilliance of the sleeves which ARE covered. Mike they look brilliant, and congratulations to the Royal Mail in acknowledging a medium that represents UK design to the World in a very powerful way.
Paul West
2009-11-08 13:29:27


Doesn't need the vinyl poking out IMHO.
James
2009-11-08 20:22:27


No doubt legal issues prevented some albums from being used.
John Reed
2009-11-08 23:50:35


No Beatles?

Come on. Revolver, Sgt Pepper was breakthrough at the time
callum
2009-11-09 05:19:13


A really strong set. I'm sure it wasn't easy picking which covers to feature. I wonder if the first day cover will feature an equally small record player?
Kevin Blackburn
2009-11-09 06:28:35


What? No Stone Roses, Smiths, J&MC...?
Mark Scruby
2009-11-09 10:31:26


The article gives January 7th 2010 as the release date, unfortunately no one at the Royal Mail has any info on them. When will they be available?

http://www.royalmail.com/portal/stamps/content1?catId=32200669&mediaId=32300679

http://www.royalmail.com/portal/rm/shop;jsessionid=B0NNLN4Z4CYECFB2IGFUPLQUHRAYUQ2K?catId=9300091&pageId=shp_category&category=cat35760022&gear=shop
Phil
2009-11-09 11:46:49


@ Joe - Not notable? are you crazy?

@ Jeremy - you can't really have bollocks on a stamp can you.
nl
2009-11-09 12:43:22


It's a shame the Beatles didn't make it up to this list.. they were huge, and we all know it, in the scope of the British music scene. Nice to see that Coldplay made the list, but I would of thought they band were a bit contemporary to be made into a stamp.
Ian Hutchinson
2009-11-09 16:00:03


Really cooL!
Bruno Passos
2009-11-09 18:15:19


Fantastic I will certainly be buying these although as others have said how on earth haven't The Beatles made it. You would have thought Abbey Road alone would have been first on the list.
Robert Dicks
2009-11-10 08:35:42


why is the queens head not looking right to left in all of them?

is this treason or a made up story?
numil
2009-11-10 10:19:37


@ Numil

I just checked with Mike Dempsey regarding the Queen's head. The rule is that she can be either on the left or right, but must always be looking inward: "I can only assume it’s because she gets a Queen’s eye view of the stamp’s design?" he says.
CR PatrickBurgoyne
2009-11-10 12:43:58


Things of great beauty and value. Excellent album choices too. I've written a couple of blog articles that may be of interest:

Album covers:
http://www.keechdesign.co.uk/blog/read/2009/11/86/perfect-packaging.html

Stamps and design:
http://www.keechdesign.co.uk/blog/read/2009/11/63/iconic-british-design.html
David Keech
2009-11-10 13:06:56


coldplay? ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha... fuck off!
ian anderson
2009-11-10 13:35:26


It's a shame that Sølve Sundsbø gets all the credit for the Coldplay image. Alexander Rutterford equally should be credited for the amazing digital wireframe distortion.
JRJ
2009-11-10 13:47:25


@JRJ



Yes, you're right. Alexander Rutterford did work on the original Dazed and Confused images in his time at Lost In Space. I have added both names to the original post to reflect this.
CR PatrickBurgoyne
2009-11-10 13:54:00


Really good idea, beautifully crafted.

Not sure about the album selection though.
Ruan Milborroe
2009-11-10 14:54:46


Clodplay but not the Beatles?! I smell a rat...

There's probably some kind of neat Last.fm/print-your-own-stamps mashup potential in this...
3stripe
2009-11-10 15:14:09


Screamdelica is by Primal Scream which is considered a Scottish band.
Manuel Dilone
2009-11-10 15:17:54


who know the're might even be a Jedward one by the time they get printed!!!!
Pat Fahy
2009-11-10 15:19:59


Where is Genesis?
El Bambi
2009-11-10 15:39:59


Great choices - good to celebrate good old fashioned vinyl. The Sex Pistol's God Save the Queen wold have been a fun choice.
Adam Graff
2009-11-10 16:04:44


Beatles stamps came out two years ago i think = white album and st peppers
Sarah Kettle
2009-11-10 16:08:10


These are cool, not sure about the Coldplay one though, although the artwork is nice. It's just a shame we all use email these days, maybe it's a good excuse to write a letter or two.
Theo
2009-11-10 16:48:47


Its great to see some of our work represented on the stamps -

But there is one thing I would like to point out.....

The work should be credited to Model Solutions and not John Robertson....

Cracking!
Dan
2009-11-10 17:17:29


The Beatles have already, had all their albums released as stamps. Coldplay, but no Who, Jam or Pistols?
Graham Mansfield
2009-11-10 21:45:15


There should definitely have been some Who, but great shout on David Bowie. Never been into stamp-collecting but have a stack of vinyl coming on nicely. Could it be time to bridge the gap?
Adam Parker
2009-11-11 09:48:49


Love the idea; not sure about some of them...scratch Coldplay...Now!
But it could be worse, imagine if Simply Red got in!
The Pink Floyd cover was probably used because all the classic covers were made by Hipgnosis. Along with great Zep covers.
Jon Sadleir
2009-11-11 10:40:19


fantastic idea, but no ”Smiths” - surely they deserve a mention, if purely for the iconic sleeves
niall Kerrigan
2009-11-12 15:30:08


very very cool, good job england has the music to back it up. i now live in Amsterdam and thinking what bands they could use for holland gets me a little depressed. Go England, cool cool stamps!
paul
2009-11-13 13:56:08


what an awesome job to do, stamp design AND on album covers, a dream! Bring back LPs as you can't see much on a CD cover, let alone thumbnails. We almost have to make sure designs are visible in the minutae, whereas when there was space man! Caterina in Guernsey
Caterine
2009-11-16 20:43:13


@Manuel - is Scotland not in Britain?

Very nice collection, there's always going to be debate about the choices of sleeves. Would have been good to have The Stone Roses, considering John Squire produced all the artwork himself - and of course one of Stanley Donwoods Radiohead covers.

am i right when i say the cake on 'Let It Bleed' was made by Delia Smith?
Ian C
2009-11-19 13:18:19


As many have pointed out The Beatles had their turn in January 2007 - http://www.norphil.co.uk/2007/01-beatles.htm - 'With the Beatles' 'Help!' 'Revolver' 'Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band'
'Abbey Road' 'Let it Be'. The White Album wasn't included. although we did a tribute 'White First Day Cover'.

Yes, Ian C the cake on Let it Bleed was made by Norwich's own Delia Smith! I wonder if I can get her to sign a first day cover - not if it means shelling out for a season ticket, though!

Regarding other contenders: Dark Side of the Moon is ... to dark to take a postmark as are many others. Quadrophenia would have been good, or several other Who covers - Bath full of beans anyone? Sex Pistols? Couldn't really see your grannie appreciating THAT album on a stamp she bought at the PO could you?

We've now added an order and payment page on our website so that people around the world can buy the stamps and associated products, and people in the UK can buy the products which they can't find at their local PO. http://www.norphil.co.uk/2010/01a-album_covers_stamps_order_form.html - so far Floyd are most popular, with enquiries from as far afield as Norway, Korea, Ecuador, Australia.
ian - Norvic
2009-11-26 13:24:54


Thanks for the very interesting comments. Advance orders for these stamps and some fascinating stamp products can now be taken by Royal Mail. Visit: http://www.royalmail.com/portal/rm/shop;jsessionid=MZ2W1CIFZ3GMSFB2IGVFGAQUHRA0WQ2K?catId=9300091&pageId=shp_prdlist&category=cat86150006&gear=shop
Why no Dark Side of the Moon? We did wish to have this album on a stamp, but it was 'too black', and the operational equipment that sorts mail would not have been able to 'read' the phosphor that is overprinted, and hence would have rejected the mail.
Philip Parker (Royal Mail)
Philip Parker
2009-12-04 22:49:38


why are there no booklet showing the year 2010 stamp issue in Post Offices
crook t
2009-12-16 21:24:27


What about ELOs Out of the Blue ? surely one of the most iconic album covers of the late 70s.
Dadz
2010-01-08 11:13:40


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