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Covers: Retracing Reggae Record Sleeves in London is a project by photographer Alex Bartsch documenting reggae album covers shot in London between 1967 and 1988. After years of research, and working in close collaboration with Al ‘Fingers’ Newman of One Love Books, Bartsch has identified and photographed more than 50 UK reggae sleeves in their original locations, holding them up at arm’s length to blend in with their surroundings, decades later. Presented in this way, the images document the passing of time, and provide a fascinating insight into the history of reggae music in the UK, a largely overlooked but immensely important part of Britain’s popular culture and musical identity.
To augment the photographs, Bartsch and Newman have traced and interviewed people that were involved in the album in some way, be it the original artist, photographer, designer or somebody from the record label. Excerpts from these interviews, which provide rich cultural and historical context to the album covers, are included alongside each photograph.
Visually stunning and contextually fascinating, the book will appeal to those interested in reggae, vintage album cover art and the historical documentation of London and other parts of the UK, as well as the broader evolution of popular culture in Britain.
• Fifty reggae record covers – by artists including Alton Ellis, John Holt, Peter Tosh, Smiley Culture, and Bob Marley & The Wailers, on iconic labels such as Trojan, Pama, Greensleeves, Bamboo and Ariwa – reshot in their original London locations.
• Previously unpublished photographs by Ged Grimmel, Noel Hawks and Syd Shelton.
• Excerpts from new interviews with people involved in the creation of the record covers.
• A fascinating insight into London’s role in the story of Jamaican music.