Britain has had a long musical history but it was arguably the 1960s and ‘70s when it fully came into its own with a variety of genres and artists paving the way for British music. Alongside pop and punk, reggae emerged as one of the most prolific of genres in terms of fans, musicians and influence, with London in particular leading the way.
London-based Alex Bartsch celebrates this in his soon-to-be-published book Covers: Retracing Reggae Record Sleeves in London published by One Love Books. Taking 40 sleeves photographed in London from 1967-1987, Bartsch re-photographed them in their original locations, seamlessly blending them into their present day surroundings.
Many of the shots were taken near the offices of record companies such as Trojan and Pama in Harlesden and Willesden, with Bartsch tracking down the locations through Google street view, forums and good old-fashioned exploring the city by bike.
“The image on a record cover usually remains within defined borders, instantly recognisable as a record cover, but not so much as a location. 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”, commented Bartsch.
What is perhaps most interesting though, is the realisation that many of these London locations have changed very little over the course of up to five decades. If it weren’t for the clothes and the cars, these images look as though they could have been taken at a much more recent point in time.
Covers: Retracing Reggae Record Sleeves in London is set to be released in June 2017. To see more from Alex Bartsch’s work, visit his website.
Words by Angharad Jones. Images courtesy of Alex Bartsch