Reggae and ‘Rain’ in Abbey Wood

by Steve

Bruce Ruffin - Rain

There is a particularly interesting Kickstarter project looking for funds to produce a book that retraces classic reggae record sleeve photographs taken in London. Glancing through all the recreations, where the original cover is held up in front of the scene now, one site looked familiar.

Bruce Ruffin’s album Rain, released by Trojan Records, features a cover image of the singer attempting to take some refuge from the aforementioned precipitation under one of the arches at Lesnes Abbey in Abbey Wood. I grew up a few minutes from the abbey, and spent many an hour in my childhood winding in and out of the ruins.

I never knew that I lived around the corner from a piece of Trojan Records history. Rain, the single from the album, reached 19 in the UK charts in 1971. The album followed later in the year.

Abbey Wood is not exactly a reggae hotspot. And the ruins of a 12th century abbey don’t seem the obvious choice for a record cover photo-shoot. From running through those arches as a kid I can also report that they really wouldn’t be the best bet for sheltering from the rain either. I think Bruce Ruffin’s expression in the photo gives that away.

From some very amateur internet research it sounds like Ruffin moved to the UK around the time Rain started getting radio play. So, I’m guessing he moved to London, an album was put together on the back of the single’s success and the photo-shoot took place. However, I can’t find any evidence that he lived anywhere near the abbey, or an explanation for how he found himself there that rainy day. Maybe the photographer lived in the area, or someone working for Trojan Records?

In the unlikely event that you have chanced upon this post and know the story behind the record cover I’d love to hear it.