If youʼre a fan of Daptone Records, chances are youʼve read or heard the name Victor Axelrod, and even if you havenʼt, youʼve heard music from his hand. As a producer, arranger, recording and mixing engineer, and keyboardist, his creativity has extended across more than two decades of the labelʼs releases, even dating to its prehistory with Desco Records.
If You Ask Me To..., the first LP under his name for the label, is a collection of singles released between 2007-2023 as well as unreleased tracks from Sugar Minott and Binky Griptite. The genesis of which came via an 11th hour request from Daptone for a Sharon Jones remix (2007) that resulted in the reggae version of “How Long Do I Have To Wait For You?” found here.
This opened the door to additional explorations of reggae/soul synergies within the catalog, affirming the musical and cultural link between Daptoneʼs core soul sound and Axelrodʼs passion for Jamaican music. While previous projects like Ticklah Vs. Axelrod and Roots Combination (produced under the alias Ticklah) were inspired by the Jamaica of the 1970s and 80s, this set specifically channels an earlier period in the 1960s when Jamaica was both strikingly original in its continuum of genres but also closely and empathetically attuned to Black American music.
Through Axelrodʼs exceptional taste and the notable contributions of guitarist Tom Brenneck, original tapes from Bob & Gene's MoDo discography, members of The Frightnrs, and others from the NYC reggae community, the legacy of trailblazing Jamaican artists like Alton Ellis, Tony Gregory, and Ken Parker continue to resonate and inspire a whole new generation of reggae and soul enthusiasts.
1. Sugar Minott - One Step Ahead
2. Leon Dinero - If You Ask Me To
3. Charles Bradley - Whatcha Doing (To Me)
4. Bob & Gene - I Can Be Cool
5. Binky Griptite - Lover Like Me
6. The Frightnrs - I’d Rather Go Blind
7. Bob & Gene - I Can’t Stand These Lonely Nights
8. Bob & Gene - It’s Not What You Know (It’s Who You Know)
9. Sharon Jones - How Long Do I Have To Wait For You
10. The Inversions - Conscience Is Heavy