What can a real diehard reggae fan do is exemplified by Alex Bartsch, a photographer and a reggae fan? Bartsch turned a reggae fan listening to Bob Marley, the legendary Jamaican singer and songwriter. It was his father who introduced him to reggae music when he was only 10 years old.
This craze for reggae goaded him to start collecting the record albums of all the reggae artists as part of a ‘music experience’. His collection spanned a decade, from 1967 to 1987.
Bartsch’s next step was to trace out the original locations depicted in UK reggae covers in London, photograph it along with the cover and turn it into a photo series. For this, he started a detailed search in the city for these locations.
Once he found the exact location, he did something exciting. He superimposed the album sleeve cover against the original background in a way that the image on the album cover completed the scene. He then photographed the two to create his photo series.
However, by Bartsch’s own admission, this task was not easy. Says he, “It often starts with the information on the record sleeve but many of them don’t offer much to go on. I’ve learned through doing this project that a good place to start is the area where the label was based. Sometimes, it was just outside the door of the record label.”
Was Bartsch able to trace out all the locations depicted on reggae album sleeves? Not by a long shot, since many were untraceable, probably turned into some other structure or building, such as supermarkets, flats and the like. However, many more were traceable and were intact since the time they were first photographed for the cover.
With his photo series, Bartsch created a photography book that displays a total of 42 photographs. This book documents the original sites that had found a place on the reggae record covers between 1967 and 1987.
Bartsch endeavour has not gone unnoticed, as various websites vie with each other to pick up his story and his unmatched photo series depicting the original locations superimposed by the UK reggae covers.