The Revolutionaries were the “house band” for Jamaica’s Channel One Studios during the second half of the 1970s. The infamous Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare handled the drum and bass duties respectively, and The Revolutionaries were the backing band on a number of great reggae and dub albums during that period. For Record Store Day Black Friday 2015 we were treated to the first ever vinyl re-release of the band’s 1979 dub classic Revolutionaries Sounds Vol. 2, 10 groovy and not-too-effects-laden tracks, most of which are instrumentals. The recording quality is excellent, as is the packaging, which includes a small poster of the cover.
I was curious about the use of Che Guevara on the cover, given how his image has become somewhat ironically commercialized over the decades (one of my favorite pieces of graffiti was a spray painted Che Guevara wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt, which kind of sums it up nicely). But considering that this album was originally released with the same cover image in 1979, and that the group used the same image on the first Revolutionaries Sounds in 1976, at least it’s relatively contemporary to Che’s lifetime. When you consider the economic, class, and racial challenges that Jamaica faced following it’s independence from the UK, it’s likely that these men were fairly serious about their revolutionary leanings, so it makes sense given the time and place. Reggae was considered somewhat subversive at the time, so I don’t think this was just empty posturing.