Royal Mail will issue the fifth in its ongoing Music Giants series on May 28, celebrating the solo career of Sir Paul McCartney, one of Britain’s most successful musicians.

In the established style of the series, a set of eight stamps feature selected album covers from 1970, when The Beatles disbanded, through to 2020. A miniature sheet of four comprises photographs of McCartney at work in the recording studio, spanning three decades.

Royal Mail collaborated closely with McCartney, who had personal involvement in the choice of images used on the stamps and the product range associated with the issue.

A self-taught musician who can play guitars, keyboards or drums, as well as singing vocals, McCartney is recognised by Guinness World Records as the most successful songwriter of all time. While part of The Beatles and subsequently, he has written or co-written 188 charted records in the UK, of which 33 reached No1, and has been awarded more than 60 gold discs.

Royal Mail says the issue marks the 50th anniversary of the release of Sir Paul’s second solo album Ram, and the subsequent formation of his new band Wings, which became one of the biggest selling acts of the 1970s. Only one Wings album is featured on the stamps, however.

Designed by Baxter & Bailey, the issue was printed in litho by International Security Printers, with the counter-sheet stamps available in se-tenent strips of four.

Album covers and memorabilia of The Beatles were the subject of a stamp issue in 2007.

 

1st class McCartney, 1970

Making a clean break from the polished production of The Beatles, McCartney’s debut solo album was recorded mostly in his living room, with Paul himself playing every instrument. This ‘lo-fi’ approach was experimental but influential, with the ballad Maybe I’m Amazed winning critical acclaim.

1st class Ram, 1971

More professionally recorded than his debut album, his second was recorded in New York with the aid of studio musicians, and Paul’s wife Linda given joint credit for many of the songs. It attracted some criticism at the time, not least from the other ex-Beatles, but the single Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey was an unexpected No1 hit in the USA.

1st class Venus & Mars, 1975

The fourth studio album by McCartney’s band Wings was a commercial success, and the prelude to a year-long world tour featuring huge stadium concerts. It included the hit single Listen To What The Man Said, along with a rearranged version of the theme tune from the television soap opera Crossroads.

1st class McCartney II, 1980

Once again recording solo at home, McCartney experimented with synthesisers and drum machines for this album, and songs such as Coming Up are now considered ahead of their time.

£1.70 Tug of War, 1982

This global chart-topper memorably included Ebony & Ivory, a duet with Stevie Wonder, and Here Today, a reflective tribute to the late John Lennon, who was murdered during the recording sessions.

£1.70 Flaming Pie, 1997

Inspired by time spent working on The Beatles’ Anthology, this record saw McCartney strip back his sound, allowing a strong set of songs to flourish. It was the last album to feature the backing vocals by Linda, who died the following year.

£1.70 Egypt Station, 2018

His first new album for five years, this was released shortly after McCartney’s 76th birthday, and was critically acclaimed for its variety. The sleeve design was based on a piece of artwork made by Sir Paul himself.

£1.70 McCartney III, 2020

McCartney was inspired by the coronavirus lockdown to return to recording at home as a one-man band, producing a collection of songs that ranged from acoustic ballads to rock and roll, with the same experimental spirit as before.

 

MINIATURE SHEET

1st class

Recording McCartney in 1970.

1st class

Recording Ram in 1971.

£1.70

Recording McCartney II in 1980.

£1.70

Recording Flaming Pie in 1997.

 

OTHER PRODUCTS

Written by music critic Alexis Petridis, with photographs from the McCartney archives, the presentation pack tells the story of Sir Paul’s musical career since the split of The Beatles.

Besides first day covers, coin covers and stamp cards, an uncut press sheet of 16 miniature sheets is available in a limited edition of 200.

A welter of associated products are being marketed to McCartney fans via the Royal Mail website.

 

PRICES

Set of 8 stamps   £10.20

Miniature sheet   £5.10

Press sheet   £89.75

Presentation pack   £16.20

Stamp cards   £5.85

First day cover (stamps)   £12.90

First day cover (mini sheet)   £6.80

 

VERDICT

COMMEMORATIVE WORTH   3/5

McCartney is a celebrated songwriter, but it would be a stretch to call many of his solo albums iconic

QUALITY OF DESIGN   2/5

As ever in the Music Giants series, the design is only as good as the original sleeve artwork

WOW FACTOR   2/5

Presumably the issue will be devoured by McCartney fans. How many others will sit up and take notice?