Alex Bartsch & Al Newman

Timeless, Power

Covers: Retracing Reggae Record Sleeves in London is a research-driven art project by photographer Alex Barsch and cultural historian Al “Fingers” Newman that documents reggae record covers shot in London between 1967 and 1988. Working over a number of years, Bartsch photographed 50 London-based reggae record sleeves in their original locations, holding them up at arm’s-length to blend in with their surroundings, decades later. 

Presented here alongside interviews with the original singers, producers, photographers, graphic designers and record label employees involved in the making of.  therecords, this unique series offers a fascinating insight into the history of reggae music in the UK, an often overlooked yet essential part of Britain’s musical identity and popular culture. 
Introduction by Covers

Photographs by Alex Bartsch Interviews by Al “Fingers” Newman


Harry J Allstars
Trojan Records

Tyler’s Court, SOHO, W1F
48 Years Later
“The cover of Liquidator features Tilly Vidal and Henry Glasgow. Tilly and I worked together. She was Graeme Walker’s secretary, then mine, plus she ran the Trojan Appreciation Society, as well as doing lots of other crucial things. Henry was the company’s go-to guy to fix anything in the various buildings we had – plumbing, carpentry, electrics, you name it. Two very fine people”

Rob Bell
Production / Label Manager, Trojan Records (1968-72)


Hot Numbers Volume 2
Various Artists
Palma Records

Roundwood Park, Willesden, NW10
44 Years Later
“The lady on the cover is Andrene Baker from Saint Kitts. We would often use models for the covers, because pictures from Jamaica were hard to get hold of. A guy who worked for Pama called US Flat Top took most of the photographs for the covers. We generally got pictures close to where we were based – places that were accessible so we didn’t need to travel into London”

Harry Palmer
Co-Founder, Palma Records


Sir Collins Music Wheel Chapter 1
Various Artists Sir Collins Music Wheel

Christ’s Chapel of God’s Gift, Dulwich, SE21
42 Years Later
“The painting is by an artist called Ramon – he’s in Jamaica now. At the time in the music, Trojan and Island and all of those companies, they had nailed me on a cross. That’s why I had the cross, because everybody was treating me like a devil, so I had to show them I was Christ”

Clance Collins AKA Sir Collins
Record Producer


Before the Next Tear Drop
John Holt

King Edward VII Park, Willesden, NW10
40 Years Later
“There was a lot of politics that went with the mainstream rock-and-roll stuff. You would go and see the band, and then the record company, and then the manager, and then the promoters, and they all wanted something different. Whereas with a label like Klik, you would go and see Joe [Sinclair] and he would say, ‘Hey Dave, I just want this...’ It was freedom, and that’s what made it fantastic”

Dave Field
Artist / Designer


Hopelessly in Love
Carroll Thompson
Carib Gems

Milton Avenue, Harlesden, NW10
34 Years Later
“The fur coat belonged to the wife of the boss of the record company. I didn’t like it and felt very self-conscious wearing it – being told to look sexy in the back streets of Harlesden with people staring at me from their windows. I was too shy to say anything. Amazing it is now an iconic picture”

Carroll Thompson


Big Ship
Freddie McGregor Greensleeves Records

The Curry Sark, Greenwich, SE10
33 Years Later
“Tony McDermott [graphic designer] put forward the idea for the Cutty Sark. I remember it was a grey day, so I had to use a small lighting rig with a generator. In general, I did things on my own. I liked to keep it low-key, so that the artist stayed relaxed – you really just want them to be themselves. Freddie was running all over the place, he loved the ship”

Tim O’Sullivan


Half Pint
Power House / Jet Star Records

Grantham Road, Stockwell, SW9
31 Years Later
“This was my first time in London. Me and George Phang had come from Jamaica to meet with Mr Palmer from Jet Star. Fatis Burrell had an apartment for us in Stockwell and we stayed there for a month or two. I felt like Stockwell was similar to Jamaica. It was a neighbourhood where ordinary people like myself and George Phang could get along, could move around. I got that same feeling like I was back in downtown Kingston”

Half Pint


High Priestess

Cleopatra’s Needle, Westminster, WC2
28 Years Later
“Mad Professor gave me the title the High Priestess, because my songs didn’t match the lovers rock hits that were coming out on Ariwa – my music was hardcore roots. So, I researched what a priestess was and got a friend of my sister’s, an elderly lady from the West Midlands, to make the outfit. When it was ready, with the head wrap and everything, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, am I going to wear this?!’ “



Photographs by Alex Bartsch
Interviews by Al "Fingers" Newman
Published by One Love Books ↗︎
@alex.bartsch ↗︎
@djalfingers ↗︎
@onelovebooks ↗︎