Photographer and record-collector Alex Bartsch has spent the past two years researching the London locations of 42 reggae covers between 1967 and 1987, and rephotographing them in their original locations.
Image: John Holt, 2000 Volts of Holt (Trojan Records, 1976), rephotographed in Holland Park, London, 39 years later.
He hopes to publish a book of his series of photographs, Covers: Retracing Reggae Record Sleeves in London, with the help of a Kickstarter campaign that launched yesterday. The project will only go ahead if at least £15,000 is pledged by December 6, but it’s already looking promising. Alex’s Kickstarter has almost 200 backers pledging more than £7000 (at the time this was written), with the number constantly on the rise.
Image: Moodie, Early Years (Moody Music, 1974), rephotographed on Downhills Park Road, London, 41 years later.
Alex began working on the project in 2014 after purchasing the Brixton Cat LP by Joe’s All Stars.
Living in Brixton himself, he took the record down to the market where the photo was shot and rephotographed it at arms length in the exact location.
Image: Various Artists, Harder Shade of Black (Santic, 1974), rephotographed in Hackney Downs, 42 years later.
The second cover was Smiley Culture’s Cockney Translation 12’’, which was photographed in Battersea. From then on, he was hooked.
Finding the exact shots led Alex (on his bike) on a wild goose chase across the city - from Penge in the southeast to Harlesden in the northwest - and into some interesting situations, like asking to enter someone’s front room in Hampstead, and accessing a backyard in Wembley.
Image: Smiley Culture, Cockney Translation (Fashion Records, 1984), rephotographed on Plough Road, London, 32 years later.
He says the project painted an interesting map of London’s reggae music heritage.
To publish the book of his photographs, Alex has teamed up with One Love Books. They’ve also published reggae-centred books Clarks in Jamaica, Sound System Culture, and In Fine Style: The Dancehall Art of Wilfred Limonious.
Image: Al Campbell, Rainy Days (Hawkeye, 1978), rephotographed in King Edward VII Park, London, 38 years later.
On top of that, Alex is offering bicycle tours around London to visit the various locations of the record covers.
Select works from his project will be exhibited at Art Basel Miami at the beginning of December.
Image: Pat Kelly, Pat Kelly Sings (Pama, 1969), rephotographed at the Albert Memorial, London, 46 years later.
Image: Carroll Thompson, Hopelessly in Love (Carib Gems, 1981), rephotographed on Milton Avenue, London, 34 years later.