...an excellent starting point for any Bob Marley fan wanting a wider appreciation of...
Jack Smith 2004
Drawing on the cream of The Gladiator's four Front Line albums from 1976-1980 Dreadlocks The Time Is Now is a welcome reissue from Virgin. Built around the imposing talents of Albert Griffiths, the band had passed through several line-up changes before Clinton Fearon and Gallimore Sutherland completed the trio and established themselves as one of Jamaica's premier roots acts. The subtle power of their vocal talents is much in evidence on each of these 19 tracks.
Opener "Mix Up" -a re-recording of an earlier Studio One hit, "Bongo Red" -is indicative of the Gladiator sound. Against a relentlessly driving rhythm (courtesy of Sly Dunbar) Griffiths, Fearon and Sutherland trade vocals in an infectious call-and-response style. The remainder of1976's Trenchtown Mix Up, which constitutes the bulk of tracks here, follows suit. On the likes of "Looks Is Deceiving" and "Soul Rebel" their harmonies verge on the telepathic - sweetening Griffith's overtly conscious lyrics. The head bobbing "Rude Boy Ska" even revisits the band's earliest incarnation as backing band for The Ethiopians 1968 hit "Last Train To Skaville."
On 1978's Proverbial Reggae the themes of unity and brotherhood continue to pervade, "We are all of one skin - same blood, same soul - but there are some think dreadlocks dont count," pretty much encapsulates the mood.The sound have changed a little wiht the times,with the keyboards and synthesizer from Ansell Collins and Earl Wire Lindo now to the fore.
By the time of Naturality (1978) the reverb button had been pushed to 11 and a significant dub influence had kicked in. Yet the quality of songwriting remains unwavering - with "Write To Me", in particular, a real laid back gem.
This is a vital collection of one of the 70's greatest reggae bands, and an excellent starting point for any Bob Marley fan wanting a wider appreciation of the era's music.