The Revolutionaires were the house band at the famous Channel One Studios and included some of the most famous reggae musicians of all time. Sly and Robbie made up the rhythm section, Tommy McCook played saxophone and Bertram McLean played guitar. Looking back at the past members of the band, it reads like a list of Jamaica’s most famous musicians. Over the years, they were one of the most prolific reggae bands releasing a huge amount of singles and albums. As if this wasn’t enough, they worked with some of the biggest names in reggae. Black Uhuru, I-Roy, Gregory Isaacs and Tapper Zukie are just a few of the names they worked with. Previously, I wrote about their album Crueshal Dub one of my favorite albums by The Revolutionaires, and in this article, I’ll revisit Gold Mine Dub, one of the albums they released in 1979. 

Gold Mine Dub opens with Calico Jack a track that opens with booming and loud echoey drums, before bass and guitar enter. Steel drums play in the background as effects lightly transform the sound. The track meanders slowly, with the rhythm section driving the track along, guitars and organ providing a contrast to the darkness courtesy of the rhythm section. Overall, it’s a track of dark and light, provided by different parts of the band, with effects used sparingly throughout the track. However, producer and arranger, Jah Lloyd, and King Tubby, the mixing engineer, combine well, producing a track that combines the best of reggae and dub  perfectly.

Big Foot is a quicker, brighter track, one that’s organ led, with drums both sharp and drenched in echo providing a backdrop to a pedestrian bass line. This track is much more what you’d expect a dub track to sound like. The effects are used much more here, twisting and transforming the drums, with echo and delay used effectively. Meanwhile, the bass and organ are mostly, allowed to go about their business without being given the dub treatment. Occasionally, they’re subjected to the dub treatment, but not too much. This provides quite a contrasts, as does the way the drums boom and crack, before they’re laden in effects. Rumbling, booming sounds are emitted from your speakers as King Tubby goes to work. Personally, this track is much more what I’d expect on a dub track, as here King Tubby gets to work, turning up the echo and delay and in the process, punishes your speakers. Excellent.

An organ, echoey, booming drums, bass and flute combine as Goldmine begins. The flute takes the lead, with vocals subtly, sitting towards the back of the mix as the track chugs along. Echo laden drums crack and boom, exploding, as the flute leads the way, ably assisted be a consistent bass and bright and atmospheric organ and chiming guitars proving the backdrop. Here, the use of the flute is a masterstroke, providing something very different, after all have you ever heard a dub track where a flute takes the lead? Meanwhile, effects are used much more subtly, echo just taking the edge of the drum sound, and filter cutting out the organ and flute during the track. Although the effects are used much more effectively, this is highly effective, as King Tubby seems to find just the right place to use them, and always chooses the right effect.

Straight away as Bitter Blood begins, the drums and percussion are subjected to a huge amount of echo, and they rumble, reverberate due to King Tubby’s plentiful supply of echo. The organ escapes this treatment, and play brightly, accompanied by a lightning fast, repetitive bass line and gently chiming guitar. As the track progresses, everything is subjected to echo, except the bass and stabs of atmospheric organ that punctuate the track. Later, a piano is briefly heard, and the organ plays a bigger part again. However, the drums boom, reverberating sharply as the echo twists their sound. Instruments appear, disappear and reappear, as if trying to escape being subjected to King Tubby’s effects, which he uses brilliantly, throughout a track that has a lovely bright, summery sound when it can escape King Tubby’s effects box.

Red River Dub has a really melodic introduction, with an organ an organ playing brightly, bringing to mind long summer days spent under the hot Jamaican sun. However, all that quickly changes, when the drums enter, crackling, rattling and reverberating thanks to some deft use of effects. Here, it’s echo and delay that are used. Accompanying the drums and organ are a dark, booming bass line, that’s slow and spacey. Percussion makes its presence felt, as the organ rejoins, still playing that lovely bright melody, as it drops into and out of the track. Again, it provides a contrast to the dark, booming sounds produced by the rhythm section. Thankfully, the contrast it provides works well, and if the organ provided brilliant, bright sunshine, the rhythm section produce an impressive, powerful thunderstorm. Together, they combine magnificently, and in the process, produce another great slice of dub.

It’s organ, rhythm section and flute that open Musketeer Dub, one of the quicker tracks on the album. Again, the flute is prominent in the mix, with organ providing a bright accompaniment. Drums are loud, cracking and reverberating as the bass is fast and accurate, booming at the bottom of the mix booming. King Tubby uses the effects quite heavily here, especially on the drums, transforming their sound so they crack, booming with just the right amount of echo. Sometimes you think that he’s going to give his effects a rest, but suddenly, he decides to transform the sound totally. This however, adds to the track, and the mixture of bright, sun-drenched melodies and effect laden rhythm combines perfectly, producing a track that’s both uplifting and one your speakers will fear.

Jamintel opens with some dramatic, quick, drumming and a short burst of an organ plays before King Tubby gets to work on the track. He unleashes his effects box, echo and delay his weapon of choice, before a broody, bass line, dark and repetitive takes over. An organ then takes the lead, changing and transforming the sound and atmosphere. After that, effects are used heavily, but to good affect. They’re used throughout the track, together with percussion and sound effects. Together, the transform the track, as it becomes echoey, reverberating, delay is used heavily and various items of percussion enter and disappear. The result is brilliant. Dub-tastic, this is what you want to hear on a dub track, and King Tubby provides it brilliantly. 

One thing I love about this album apart from the music, is the titles. Big Foot, Sore Mouth, Pepper Dub and the next track Heartburn. It makes me wonder what was going on in the studio when this album was recorded. Heartburn begins with the rhythm section, organ and percussion combining. Straight away, the effects are unleashed the organ, then drums being laden in echo. Sharp percussive sounds accompany the melodic sound of the organ, and the broody bass, which again, is lightning fast. A guitar appears, chiming brightly, to be transformed by echo. Here, the effects are used much more heavily, as the rhythm section drive the track along, the bass being the most prominent instrument in the mix. Overall, it’s a much more heavy duty dub track, where effects are used to good effect, but not so heavily that they totally mangle the music rendering it just a mass of effects where the music can’t shine through. Here, King Tubby uses his experience well, finding a happy medium, and in doing so, produces one of the album’s best tracks.

When Sore Mouth begins, it’s a combination of drums, steel drums, organ and bass that opens the track. Quickly, effects are used, transforming the sound into a mixture of sharp cracks and booming, reverberating drums, which are joined by percussion. They and the effects produce a multitude of noises, some which have an almost otherworldly sound. While this is taking place, the organ plays a beautiful melody, which is a total contrast to the rhythm section who drive the track along. Here, the bass line sits right at the front of the mix, accompanying the drums, which throughout the track, crack, boom and reverberate thanks to King Tubby’s box of effects. Like the previous track, the effects are used much more here, but still some lovely melodies and great rhythms shine through in what is an excellent dub track.

Gold Mine closes with Pepper Dub, which opens brightly with drum rolls and an organ playing, before percussion and bass join the track. The track meanders along, with a mixture of a melodic organ playing and loud, sharp and crisp drums and percussion accompanying it. A bass loud, dark and quick, plays, providing another layer and texture of music. Effects are used subtly at the start of the track, but as the track progresses, the subtlety is gone. Effects transform the drums, twisting their sound. Drums crash, cracking and reverberating as the percussion is sharp sound. The bass is quick, booming and reverberating, but the organ and guitar provide a contrast. They both provide a lighter, brighter, much more, melodic sound. It’s the difference between night and day, light and shade. However, it’s a potent, intriguing combination, and together with some great work from King Tubby, provides the perfect track to close Gold Mine.

Since I’ve been interested in reggae music, and dub especially, King Tubby has been one of my favorite mixers and producers. During his career, he produced many brilliant albums, and worked with the biggest names in reggae music. On this album, he does a great job in producing it. He finds a happy medium in the use of effects, neither underusing nor overusing them. Sometimes, on dub albums, too little or too much effects are used. If they’re overused, this mangles and destroys the sound, and in some cases, renders the music almost unlistenable. Here he worked with some hugely talented musicians, and the way he uses the effects, allows the listener to hear their work. Throughout the album are some lovely melodies, especially courtesy of the organ. Thankfully, they’re spared the effects, but the drums are twisted and transformed so that they crash, boom and reverberate brilliantly over ten great tracks. On Gold Mine, King Tubby, and his trusty box of effects, demonstrate just what a good dub album should sound like. if after reading this article you want to hear this album, the good news is that I’ve discovered that it comes as part of a four disc box set entitled The Evolution of Dub Volume 3 The Descent Version, which was released by Greensleeves Records. They’ve released six box sets, each including four dub great albums. This allows someone who is interested in dub to quickly build up a collection of some great dub music. Standout Tracks: Big Foot, Musketeer Dub, Heartburn and Sore Mouth.


Goldmine Dub

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