Retracing reggae record sleeves photographed in London

Photographer Alex Bartsch has reshot over 40 reggae albums and singles from 1967 to 1987 in their original locations. An exhibition and book of the project are planned.

Various Artists, Harder Shade of Black (Santic, 1974), rephotographed in Hackney Downs, London E5, 42 years later. Photos © 2016 Alex Bartsch, courtesy One Love Books
Various Artists, Harder Shade of Black (Santic, 1974), rephotographed in Hackney Downs, London E5, 42 years later. Photos © 2016 Alex Bartsch, courtesy One Love Books

As a celebration of the music heritage of the capital, Alex Bartsch’s latest project puts the reggae artists and musicians of the 60s, 70s and 80s right back into the surroundings which helped form their work.

Holding each album cover at arms length, he has reshot a series of over 40 reggae sleeves in exactly the same place as they were originally taken in postcodes stretching across the capital. He has just launched a Kickstarter campaign to publish the photographs in a book, Covers: Retracing Reggae Record Sleeves in London (One Love Books), which will run to December 6 2016.

There’s Smiley Culture who was photographed on Plough Road, London SW11 32 years ago for the cover of Cockney Translation (Fashion Records, 1984); or Pat Kelly standing by the Albert Memorial in SW7 – put back into the frame some 46 years on from the shoot for his album Pat Kelley Sings (Pama, 1969).

It’s a simple trick – but one that cannily brings these record sleeves to life again, while putting them within the historical context of the city.

Smiley Culture, Cockney Translation (Fashion Records, 1984), rephotographed on Plough Road, London SW11, 32 years later. Photos © 2016 Alex Bartsch, courtesy One Love Books
Smiley Culture, Cockney Translation (Fashion Records, 1984), rephotographed on Plough Road, London SW11, 32 years later. Photos © 2016 Alex Bartsch, courtesy One Love Books
Pat Kelly, Pat Kelley Sings (Pama, 1969), rephotographed at the Albert Memorial, London SW7, 46 years later. Photos © 2016 Alex Bartsch, courtesy One Love Books
Pat Kelly, Pat Kelley Sings (Pama, 1969), rephotographed at the Albert Memorial, London SW7, 46 years later. Photos © 2016 Alex Bartsch, courtesy One Love Books

“The image on a record cover usually remains within defined borders, instantly recognisable as a record cover, but not so much as a location,” says Bartsch. “Approaching the scene from a wider angle and revealing the cover’s surroundings brought me, and will hopefully bring others, closer to the time and place of the original photo shoot.”

Selected images from the project will also be exhibited at Art Basel Miami from 2 to 5 December 2016.

See onelovebooks.com, alexbartsch.com/covers

Carroll Thompson, Hopelessly in Love (Carib Gems, 1981), rephotographed on Milton Avenue, London NW10, 34 years later. Photos © 2016 Alex Bartsch, courtesy One Love Books
Carroll Thompson, Hopelessly in Love (Carib Gems, 1981), rephotographed on Milton Avenue, London NW10, 34 years later. Photos © 2016 Alex Bartsch, courtesy One Love Books
Moodie, Early Years (Moodie Music, 1974), rephotographed on Downhills Park Road, London N17, 41 years later. Photos © 2016 Alex Bartsch, courtesy One Love Books
Moodie, Early Years (Moodie Music, 1974), rephotographed on Downhills Park Road, London N17, 41 years later. Photos © 2016 Alex Bartsch, courtesy One Love Books
John Holt, 2000 Volts of Holt (Trojan Records, 1976), rephotographed in Holland Park, London W14, 39 years later. Photos © 2016 Alex Bartsch, courtesy One Love Books
John Holt, 2000 Volts of Holt (Trojan Records, 1976), rephotographed in Holland Park, London W14, 39 years later. Photos © 2016 Alex Bartsch, courtesy One Love Books
Al Campbell, Rainy Days (Hawkeye, 1978), rephotographed in King Edward VII Park, London NW10, 38 years later. Photos © 2016 Alex Bartsch, courtesy One Love Books
Al Campbell, Rainy Days (Hawkeye, 1978), rephotographed in King Edward VII Park, London NW10, 38 years later. Photos © 2016 Alex Bartsch, courtesy One Love Books

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