When the Virgin label first started reissuing material from its long-discontinued Front Line reggae imprint in the early '90s, it was a mixed blessing for roots reggae lovers. On the one hand, the reissue campaign made truly classic material available again for the first time in over a decade. On the other hand, each reissue tended to be a compilation of tracks taken from several albums, all of which deserved their own individual reissues (the label would move in that direction the following decade, releasing a number of those albums individually and with original cover art). This Gladiators
compilation is a case in point, offering a generous program of 19 tracks culled from no fewer than four albums and one 12" single originally released between 1976 and 1979. The bulk of the program comes from the classic Trench Town Mix Up
album; tracks such as "Eli Eli" and "Chatty Chatty Mouth" remain excellent examples of bandleader Albert Griffiths
' unique melodic talent and the trio's reedy and affecting vocal harmonies. The 12" is "Pocket Money," another very well-chosen track, and there are also gems from the albums Naturality
("Naturality," "Struggle") and Proverbial Reggae
("Stick a Bush"). Highly recommended to fans of harmony-group reggae in particular and of the roots-and-culture period in general.