The Gladiators

Father and Sons

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Rumor has it that Father and Sons is the last Gladiators' album that Albert Griffiths will participate in as he turns the reins of the group over to his sons, singer Al Griffiths and drummer Anthony Griffiths, both of whom are featured prominently on this release. The elder Griffiths founded the Gladiators in 1967 in Jamaica, and the name has been synonymous with quality roots reggae and harmony ever since. If Father and Sons is indeed Albert's swan song as a Gladiator, then he has chosen to step back on a high note, since every track here is solid, with wonderful vocals and a bright, warm, and slightly nostalgic tone augmented by crack Jamaican session players Dwight Pinkney, Dean Fraser and Bongo Herman, among others. Griffiths' voice is a little more hoarse than in the old days, but it cracks and breaks in all the right places, giving his singing a comforting wisdom on strong songs like "Promise Me," "Can't Get Around Me," "Holding On," and "Captivity," all of which have a distinct autumnal tone, as if he is indeed summing everything up one last time. Son Al Griffiths handles some of the leads here, but it is nearly impossible to tell which vocal lines are his and which are his father's, and it would appear that the future of the Gladiators is in good hands. The proof will be in the songwriting, though, since the elder Griffiths penned everything on Father and Sons. A delightful album of bright, warm roots reggae, Father and Sons, if it is to serve as Albert Griffiths' retirement speech, certainly lives up to the Gladiators legacy.

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