The Gladiators

Something a Gwaan

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The Gladiators started out in the late '60s as a harmony trio in the style of the early Wailers and the Mighty Diamonds, though with a slightly rougher edge. These days, the group's founder and chief songwriter, Albert Griffiths, is the only remaining member, and the years have taken something of a toll on his already smoky voice. But his songwriting skills remain undiminished, as is his ability to lead a band confidently into thickets of dense reggae and rocksteady rhythm. Something a Gwaan is a very fine album, one that stays primarily within the Gladiators' normal territory of sturdy mid-tempo roots and rockers reggae, but also strays occasionally (and refreshingly) into ska rhythms, as on "Hug Me Up" and the charming "Head to My Toe." Other highlights include the title track and "The Bull," which harks back explicitly to the Gladiators sound of the early '70s. Recommended.

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