Check out a selection of images documenting Alex Bartsch's extensive search for sleeve art locations
One Love Books has just published a monograph about reggae album cover photography around London from 1967–1988. Funded by a Kickstarter project in 2016, Covers: Retracing Reggae Record Sleeves In London follows Alex Bartsch’s mission to identify and photograph the exact locations featured on reggae record sleeves up to 50 years after they were originally made.
“I was blown away by the concept,” says One Love Books’ Al Newman, “but also by what the photographs represented: the largely overlooked yet immensely rich history of reggae music in the UK.”
He continues, “Whenever a new cover was located it was photographed and marked on a map, the layout of which is fascinating in its own right, revealing concentrations of covers in specific areas – many in central London around landmarks such as Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace and Piccadilly Circus, and an equally dense cluster in the NW10 postcode.”
“The first record cover that I rephotographed for this series was Brixton Cat, a 1969 Trojan Records LP produced by Joe ‘The Boss’ Mansano,” writes Bartsch in the introduction to his Covers book. Living locally, Bartsch recognised that the cover photo was taken at the corner of Atlantic Road and Electric Avenue in the heart of Brixton Market. “After a couple of attempts I came up with the idea of holding the record sleeve at arm’s length,” he adds. Mansano ran a record shop in the market at 93 Granville Arcade, and his sister-in-law Peggy Jackson was in the picture.
Covers: Retracing Reggae Record Sleeves In London is available to buy at One Love Books. An exhibition marking the book’s publication runs until 23 April at London Rich Mix. Images will be accompanied by excerpts from interviews with the photographers, singers and label heads connected to the featured records.
After Rich Mix, the exhibition will go on tour across the UK, including: Bristol Royal West of England Academy (2 May–13 May), London Exposure Gallery (24 May–20 June), London V&A (8 June), Paris Exposure (12–24 July), Nottingham New Art Exchange (28 July–2 September), Nottingham Rough Trade (28 July–2 September), and Wolverhampton Art Gallery (8 September–14 October). Alex Bartsch can be found on Instagram posting as @alex.bartsch, and One Love Books are at @onelovebooks.