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Preview: Two Albums by Reggae Legends the Gladiators Being Reissued in Expanded Editions

Artist: Gladiators
  • Symbol of Reality
  • Serious Thing
Release Date: April 20, 2018
Label: Omnivore Recordings
  • CD
  • Digital
Albert Griffiths founded the Gladiators in 1966 after some success on his own. The group scored their first hit, produced by legendary producer Coxsone Dodd, with “Hello Carol” in 1968. During the ’70s the Gladiators made their way through releases on labels like Studio One, Upsetter, Virgin, and Groovemaster. The year 1980 found them working with producer (and pre-“Electric Avenue” hit-maker) Eddy Grant on the album Gladiators, which also featured members of the band Aswad lending a musical hand.

Omnivore Recordings will re-release two Gladiators albums from the legendary reggae label Nighthawk Records, which Omnivore recently acquired. Remastered and expanded versions of Symbol of Reality and Serious Thing will be available April 20, 2018.

On 1982’s Symbol of Reality, their first for Nighthawk, the Gladiators revisited their own catalog of songs, re-recording their classics “Dreadlocks the Time Is Now” (appearing here as “Streets of Gold”), “Watch Out” and “Big Boo Boo Deh” (returning retitled as “Cheater”) while also paying homage to the Wailers with covers “Small Axe” and “Stand Alone,” both written by Bob Marley.

This newly remastered version of the album features the original ten tracks, the two bonus tracks that were added to the original 1997 Nighthawk CD reissue, “Symbol Version” and “Righteous Man Version,” plus four previously unissued tracks, “Streets of Gold Version,” “Not Afraid To Fight Version,” “Symbol of Reality Instrumental Dub” and “Streets of Gold Instrumental Dub.”

The Gladiators added more cultural commentary in their song choices for 1984’s follow up, Serious Thing. Topical songs dominate the album from the title track, “Serious Thing,” to “Freedom Train” and “My Thoughts.” Once again, they revisited their own catalog of songs, re-recording “Rearrange” (originally cut with Dodd in the early ’70s) and “Fling It Gimme” (originally a single for the group dating back to 1969). Even though reggae as a style of music was changing in the mid-’80s, the Gladiators played to their strengths and made another classic roots album.

This newly remastered release features the original ten tracks, plus six previously unissued tracks, “Bless Our Soul,” “New Song/New Vibe,” “Serious Thing Version,” “My Thoughts Instrumental Dub,” “Fling It Gimme Version” and “Good Foundation Dub.”

The reissues were overseen by original Nighthawk Records’ producer Leroy Jodie Pierson, who also contributes new liner notes to both projects, and Grammy Award-winning producer Cheryl Pawelski. Both reissues were remastered from the original tapes by Grammy Award-winning engineer Michael Graves.

According to Griffiths, “Dread is me culture, know wha’ I mean? Me could not a sing reggae music and really be a man that trim. Ha fe be a dread. When I say dread, a Rastaman, know wha’ I mean? I ha fe dread because every song that I sing is dread. The way I sing it is dread. Yeah, the music itself dread . . . A real reggae singer ha fe be forceful. A forceful reggae singer will always survive. Reggae music, man — it might look simple, but it naw so simple, you know. You ha fe ready and you ha fe ready with the punch. You ha fe ready to attack and very swift. You see a karate man punch a man, you know, and move again. Well it’s just same way reggae. You ha fe tense your body to sing reggae.”

Track List:

Symbol of Reality
  • Symbol Of Reality
  • Symbol Version
  • Small Axe
  • Bumping And Boring
  • Cheater
  • Watch Out
  • Mister Goose
  • Streets Of Gold
  • Streets Of Gold Vesion*
  • Righteous Man
  • Righteous Man Version
  • Stand Alone
  • Not Afraid To Fight
  • Not Afraid To Fight Version*
  • Symbol Of Reality Instrumental Dub*
  • Streets Of Gold Instrumental Dub* 
*Previously Unissued

Serious Thing
  • Serious Thing
  • My Thoughts
  • Fling It Gimme
  • Rearrange
  • Mid-Range
  • Freedom Train
  • Good Foundation
  • After You
  • Bless Our Soul*
  • New Song/New Vibe*
  • Serious Thing Version*
  • My Thoughts Version
  • My Thoughts Instrumental Dub*
  • Fling It Gimme Version*
  • Mid-Range Version
  • Good Foundation Dub* 
*Previously Unissued