Live In San Francisco
The Gladiators
January 28, 2013

The Gladiators Track list
  1. Write To Me
  2. Bongo Red
  3. Belly Full
  4. Looks Is Deceiving
  5. Duppy Conqueror
  6. You Can't Stop Righteousness
  7. Roots Natty
  8. Getty Getty
  9. Hello Carol feat. Don Carlos & Mikey General
  10. Stick A Bush
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 5 Backing : 5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 4
Albert Griffiths & The Gladiators can best be described in two words-ITAL ROOTS! This consummate band has been putting out pure righteousness for decades with quality and quantity. A few live albums have encompassed their Zion sounds. The most compelling live set has to be a show captured at San Francisco's famed Maritime Hall. The now defunct music hall provided the best acoustics and drew Reggae legends from around Creation.

The Gladiators were formed in 1965 by Albert Griffiths, Clinton Fearon and David Webber. Their breakthrough "The Train Is Coming" (1968) and "Hello Carol" (Studio One, 1969) put them on the musical train with no stops. There were band changes in the early 1970's and they firmed themselves and presented the world with some of the strongest music to come from Reggae's "Golden Age". Albums of perfections prevailed; "Trenchtown Mix Up" (1976), "Proverbial Reggae" (1978) and "Naturality" (1979) to mention a few! The 1980's saw more personnel shifts but that didn't stop more incredible output. 1984's "Serious Thing" and 1988's "In Store For You" are remarkable. Albert dibbled a little with the Digital Age but he got back to real authentic sound around the millennium. In the last few years, Albert has handed the reins to his son and drummer, Anthony, who showed up hard on the group's 2010 album "Continuation".

"Live In San Francisco" was recorded in 2004 in the heart of the City. This reviewer bare witness to this amazing show and is not easily forgotten. What a joy and pleasure it was to see the majority of the iriginal Gladiators intact (minus Clinton Fearon) in full glory and majestic presence. Albert juggles lead vocals with Rudio Robinson on harmonies. Gallimore Sutherland handles riddim guitar and backing vox; his brother Vernon is able on keys. The legendary Earl "Bagga" Walker is Mr. Bassie and Anthony Griffiths expertly handles the drums. The live engineer is none other than "Scientist" and local hero Boots Hughston produced this piece.

On stage, the band usually sticks to a set list that showcases the bulk of their Roots anthems from the 1970's. This adoring crowd is instantly enthralled by Write To Me. Albert's poignant delivery is elevated by the ethereal harmonies from Rudio and Gallimore - well ruff! Bongo Red is a special treat indeed; an extended Dub workout allows Gallimore to pluck, Bagga to ace on bass and Scientist to demonstrate why he is still in high demand for live shows. Belly Full is a reality check, fe real. A powerful song of triumph about rising up and away from suffering. Albert and crew never had it easy and his vocal delivery is pure Dread. Looks Is Deceiving is a whopping good time; a hypnotic trance is cast upon the audience by Clinton Rufus' wailing guitar and Vernon's pure bubblin'. These bredrin are so in tune with each other's licks that it has to be the work of The Most High!

Originally penned by Lee Perry and voiced by Bob Marley, Duppy Conqueror has become a mainstay in The Gladiator's repertoire. With the authority of a Reggae conductor, Albert orchestrates his band into a rousing Reggae jamboree. He has always possessed Marleyesque qualities and this is a prime example of naturality. You Can't Stop Righteousness is arguably the group's most powerful period piece and it comes together better on stage than in the studio-flawless. A thunderous drum and bass gives way to Albert regally skanking us through Roots Natty with superb musician manship. Getty Getty is a Ska soaked gem that really gets the massive moving. Mr. Rufus' guitar playing is dynamic. Amazingly, the iconic Don Carlos and lion Mikey General appear on stage to help out on the immortal Hello Carol. The combination is indescribably ites. The final song of this set, Stick A Bush is a beautiful way to complete a night of Reggae history.

Live recordings are typically exciting, as long as the live mix is sweet and the presentation is tight. "Live In San Francisco-The Gladiators" is that and plenty more. This is a glimpse into the raw power of bredrin that are bonded by Love and Life and Soul. After countless albums, setbacks and comebacks, The Gladiators still rank in the Top Ten Roots bands that are active today. If you are a fan of live Reggae albums that REALLY draw you in, then this is for you. Go deh!!!!!!!!