Today Royal Mail released the first new set of commemorative stamps for 2010: Classic Album Covers. Design was the theme of the first set of commemoratives for 2009, British Design Classics, and so the art of the album sleeve designer, rather than the music, is focus of Classic Album Covers.
Like stamps themselves, album covers are pieces of art which everyone owns and enjoys. It is also appropriate that as more and more music is downloaded, and the album cover – indeed the entire concept of the album – becomes less important to music consumers, that the classic covers from a time when the album was king are celebrated.
Royal Mail selected the covers of 10 classic British albums by researching dozens of polls and listings of best album covers, and then consulted the editors of some of the UK’s leading music publications, together with designers and design writers. The final selection features albums from the Rolling Stones’ Let it Bleed (1969), to Coldplay’s 2002 album A Rush of Blood to the Head.
There has been much debate online about the selection of albums featured on these stamps. Why no Dark Side of the Moon or Beatles? Royal Mail’s Philip Parker gave the answer to the first question on the Creative Review blog. Dark Side of the Moon was too dark 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”, he said.
As for The Beatles, their albums were celebrated on a set of stamps in 2007 (the Norvic Philatelic blog has the details). Interestingly, The Beatles stamps were only the second British stamps to celebrate popular music. The first was a stamp featuring childhood philatelist and Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury, part of The Entertainer’s Tale, released in 1999.
Classic Album Covers is now available from Royal Mail’s website.