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This label guide covers album labels by RCA Records from their beginnings in 1950 until the phasing out of the LP. Several classic label styles were tried and used during the early period, as you will see below.
If a colored link appears around a photo, you can click on that photo to view the "Red Seal" version of the same label style.
|This original RCA label appeared on all mainstream labels.
These included popular records (LPM prefix, black label) and
popular "smart set" albums (LPM prefix, light blue label).
Soundtrack (LOC) series records featured labels that were green in color. "Red seal"
labels (LM prefix) were red, of course, and other series appeared with blue
labels (LK prefix), silver labels (Collectors' Series, LPT), or
gold labels (Red Seal Collectors' series, LCT).|
RCA's 10" LP main series began with LPM-1, Let's Dance Again With Flanagan, by Ralph
Flanagan. These were single LP records that corresponded to "musical smart sets": boxed
sets of 45 RPM or 78 RPM singles. The series appears to have terminated with LPM-53,
Christmas Carols, by the Hour of Charm All-Girls Orchestra and Choir (released in October, 1951).
The LPM-3000 series (below) replaced it in January, 1952.
The Red Seal 10" series began with LM-1 in 1950, Boston Pops Orchestra, by Arthur Fiedler.
Collectors' Series boxed sets were issued beginning with LCT-6000, Pietro Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana.
The 12" mainstream series began with LPM-1000 in 1954. This was Music for Dining, by
the Melachrino Strings.
|In 1955, RCA and several other major record companies
changed their label styles. RCA opted for a black label
that featured "Nipper" the dog in color. The background
was red for "Red Seal" copies, and most other series were
merged into the black label series. This label style is often
called the "first 'dog on top' label." The background behind
Nipper on Red Seal LP's is shaded to black on this issue; therefore,
collectors refer to this Red Seal label (mono or stereo) as
the "shaded dog" issue. This label style continued on Red Seal
labels until about LSC-2650 and on the main series until
At the bottom of the mono label is "Long 33 1/3 Play".
At the bottom of the stereo label, introduced in 1958, is "LIVING STEREO." The stereo prefixes all began with LS, which stood of course for "living stereo." Apparently, the common stereo prefixes meant Living Stereo Popular, Living Stereo Original (Cast), and Living Stereo Classical.
Albums that featured electronically reprocessed stereo were given stereo catalog numbers followed by an "e" in parentheses. The (e) stood for "electronic. At the bottom of rechanneled stereo labels was the single word "STEREO" -- occasionally with mention made of the reprocessed status.
|In 1963, RCA introduced their "Dynagroove" process. Not
every LP would be marketed as a Dynagroove album, and so their
mono and stereo labels were split into Dynagroove and "regular"
records. Regular albums were marked "MONO" or "STEREO", while
Dynagroove albums received special labels featuring the
Dynagroove logo. This was true also for Red Seal albums,
beginning at least with LSC-2661. The Nipper drawing
on Red Seal albums is still shaded. A promotional album
called This Is Dynagroove (PRS-140) was released on
the blue label series to promote the advancement in technology.|
During the same period, the "Victrola" service mark featured a burgundy/plum colored label with "MONO" or "STEREO" at the bottom. The Victrola label began c. 1958 and continued at least into the 70's.
|Not long after the Dynagroove label was introduced -- probably in
late 1964 -- RCA redesigned their label completely (for the first time
since 1955). The silver print at the top was removed in favor of
"RCA Victor" in white. The larger "mono" and "stereo" designations
at the bottom of the label were replaced with much less fancy
words. On Red Seal albums, there is no longer any black shading
behind Nipper, on either the Dynagroove or "regular" label.|
This label style began at about LSP-2935 (or Red Seal numbers close to 2800) and continued past the demise of monaural in 1968. The last mono soundtrack album was LOC-1151, The Believers. The last mono regular series album was approximately LPM-4023. The last "dog on top" labels came about 10 albums thereafter. The last Red Seal "Nipper" label was just after 3000.
|Nineteen sixty-nine saw the advent of a new logo for RCA, followed shortly by a new label style...commonly called the orange label, although the shade was slightly different on special issue albums. A pink label for the Victrola imprint can also be found. The orange label continued through 1975. Earlier copies tend to have thicker vinyl, as RCA introduced "Dynaflex" records in the early 70's.|
|RCA's label for 1976, for original albums and reissues, was a tan version of the orange label. This proved to be only a transitional label style.|
|One of the longest-lasting RCA labels was the "new black" label, which
restored the place that Nipper had had for so many years.|
This label design continued well into the 80's. Eventually, RCA began to experiment with using label styles somewhat similar to their old 78 labels, but the "new black" label still remained their "official" design until LP's were "officially" discontinued as a readily available format.
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© 2002, 2011 Frank Daniels