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United Artists LP Labels

This label guide covers album labels by United Artists Records from their beginning in 1958 until the company was purchased by Capitol Records in 1979. Several classic label styles were tried and used during the early period, as you will see below.

This original UA label appeared on original pressings of the first four United Artists soundtrack LP's in 1958. These were numbered UAL 40001 through UAL 40004 and originally were not available in stereo.
All four albums are difficult to find in their original pressings, and "God's Little Acre" is particularly collectible.
As was the case with their films (UA never owned any expensive sets), United Artists did not press their own records. From the beginning, they contracted the work out to other companies.

Almost immediately, the UA label switched to this "rainbow" design, which was probably associated with the introduction of stereo albums. These records are as scarce as the first issues. In order to facilitate stereo numbering, a digit was dropped from their album scheme, and so the stereo issue of album 40004 was numbered as UAS 5004, and a digit was later dropped from the mono catalog number, making it UAL 4004.

The very next album, UAL 4005, and its stereo counterpart, UAS 5005, appeared on similar label styles -- with red for mono and blue for stereo pressings. This label variety continued until approximately album UAL 4070/UAS 5070.

In 1960, UA abandoned the red and blue scheme in favor of an all black label. Some of the earlier covers were altered so that the older "UA" logo was replaced by the new United Artists company logo. At the top of the stereo covers was an attractive grouping of circles on a black background, representing the stereo recording. From here on, stereo labels differed from mono labels only in terms of the catalog number and the occurrence of the word "stereo" on the label. This popular label style continued until 1968, with about album UAL 4176/UAS 5176 and about UAL 3641/UAS 6641.

By 1968, United Artists had merged to become part of Transamerica. Their earlier logo was replaced with a new U around a logo -- first on album covers and then on labels. The new labels featured shades of pink and orange, colors that were quite appropriate in the late 1960's. This label style continued through the demise of mono (with an album in the 4180's being the last -- I know of UAL 4181 -- and an album c. UAL 3652 in the other series) and on to 1970.
In 1970, at approximately album UAS 5207 (or naer UAS 6739), United Artists united with Liberty Records to become Liberty/UA. The labels changed to reflect this, with the new labels being orange and black.
The 1970 label style was short lived, for UA already had a new logo change in the works. When the cover for the Electric Light Orchestra's first album, called No Answer in the US, was being designed, the old logo was still in place, but the company changed styles when they went to print. Consequently, careful collectors can observe that the earlier logo style has been covered up in the upper left hand corner of the front cover! The new (tan) logo style began to be used with approximately album UAS 5217. In 1972, UA diversified, deciding then to renumber all of their LP's. The new price code scheme began with "UA LA" for all LP's, followed by the three digit catalog number and a price code (a letter, usually from F to I). During the tan label period, UA reissued many of its earlier albums onto the new numbering scheme.
In 1975, United Artists added the additional words, "All Rights Reserved," to the tan label. The tan label continued in this form until about album UA LA800 in 1977.
Since the tan label had been in use for quite some time, UA ditched it in favor of an orange "sunrise" label. The soundtracks to Moonraker and Rocky II (UA LA972-I) were among the last true United Artists albums. When Capitol purchased United Artists (and Liberty Records), they quickly reissued some of the more popular UA albums onto the Liberty label. The UA film company branched off and merged a few times, notably with MGM. The United Artists record label, having released so many great soundtrack albums -- including the James Bond series -- has a proud place in recorded music history.

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2003, 2007 Frank Daniels