Music lover and photographer Alex Bartsch pays homage to his favorite vinyl albums by documenting them at the original locations where their cover photos were taken. By holding each vinyl cover art so that it seamlessly merges with its real-life setting, Bartsch’s portfolio showcases the passage of time and provides a fascinating insight into the history and cultural identity of British reggae music.
“The idea first came to me when I bought the Brixton Cat LP by Joe's All Stars (Trojan Records, 1969),” recalls Bartsch. “I live in Brixton and took the record down to the market where the cover photo was shot, holding it up and rephotographing it at arms length, matching up the LP to the background.” Bartsch was soon hooked, and ended up researching, identifying, and photographing more than 50 UK reggae sleeves from 1967 to 1988 in their original locations. Since then, he’s traveled all over the world, returning his yesteryear vinyl collection to the places they originated decades before.
While many locations were easy to find, others took some “detective work.” For his Retracing Reggae Record Sleeves in London series, Bartsch cycled all over the city, creating a map of London's reggae music heritage. The determined photographer recalls, “To achieve some of these shots I had to hitch a boat ride across Regents Canal, climb onto a rooftop near Old Street, ask to enter someone's front room in Hampstead, access a back yard in Wembley, and venture on to the Westway in west London.”
You can buy the Covers: Retracing Reggae Record Sleeves in London book on Bartsch’s website and see more of his images on Instagram.