Ticklah vs. Axelrod
Easy Star Records
September 18, 2007

Ticklah & Victor Axelrod - Ticklah Vs. Axelrod Track list
  1. Two Face
  2. Want Not feat. Tamar-Kali
  3. Scratch To Win
  4. Mi Sonsito feat. Mayra Vega
  5. Rescue Me feat. Mikey General
  6. Pork Eater feat. Rob Symeonn
  7. Nature Loving Dub
  8. Descent
  9. Si Hecho Palante feat. Mayra Vega
  10. Answer Me
  11. Queen Dub feat. Rob Symeonn
  12. Deception feat. Vinia Mojica
  13. Nine Years
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Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 4/5 Backing : 4/5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 4/5 Sleeve : 4
Victor 'Ticklah' Axelrod is both 'opponents' on this album "Ticklah vs. Axelrod", which in fact is not as strange as it might seem. The co-producer and keyboardist of NYC's Easy All-Stars 2003 cultalbum "Dub Side Of The Moon", their critically acclaimed and commercially successful adaptation of Pink Floyd's "Dark Side Of The Moon" 30 years after that was released and it's successor "Radiodread" the re-invention of "OK Computer", the third album by English band Radiohead, released in the summer of 1997 to immense acclaim and eventually, worldwide commercial success. Michael Goldwasser (a.k.a. Michael G) and Victor Axelrod (a.k.a. Ticklah) form the core of the group that has provided the music and arrangements for all of Easy Star Records' original productions since 1997.

On this album his many facets all have their strong or latent influence, as he's not only the reggae and dub addict playing in and at the helm of the Easy Star All-Stars, but also a keymember of Afrobeat collective Antibalas, original member of Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings and session musician on tracks by Lily Allen, Robbie Williams and Amy Winehouse (including the hit "Rehab"). Starting with the appropriately (if you have listened through this album) titled dub "Two Face", that is nothing more and nothing less than a (great) dub, sounding a bit like Augustus Pablo's tunes that were as much instrumentals as they were dubs, followed by the beautifully sung "Want Not" on which Easy Star All-Stars female vocalist Tamar-Kali really shines and the great dub "Scratch To Win" with beautiful horn riffs on top of the tight riddim foundation. And then it's time for the first change of mood and indeed almost schizophrenic action, as the latin-ska riddim and horns are the intro to a wonderful latin-ska re-interpretation of Eddie Palmieri's catchy salsa classic "Mi Sonsito" on which Mayra Vega - known for her great vocals on Antibalas' Willie Colón cover of "Che Che Cole" - is the great songstress.

This first non-reggae non-dub tune is followed by two straight-forward roots reggae tunes, Mikey General's sweet conscious "Rescue Me" and Rob Symeonn's excellent plea for vegetarianism "Pork Eater" (with which I whole-heartedly disagree ...) and what could have been another truly great dub, but in my opinion the chirping birds distract too much from its majestic bass line and fine dubbed up drumming and percussion. The next instrumental/dub "Descent" with its great horn riffs over it's relaxed dubbed up roots riddim is reminiscent of the Restless Mashaits "Kingston Sessions" treatment and is followed by the great latin-piano solos featuring relaxed reggae take on Eddie Palmieri's "Si Hecho Palante", once more with great vocals by Mayra Vega.

"Answer Me" is a melodica dub workout that really catches the vibe of Augustus Pablo's great records and "Queen Dub" is a perfect dub of a Rob Symeonn vocal, before Vinia Mojica, known for her work with the Jungle Brothers, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest and later Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Hi-Tek and Common, delivers the soulful vocals over "Deception"'s rather minimalistic backing that gets a beautiful dub treatment halfway through the song with Vinia's vocals floating 'over' the mix. This extremely eclectic album, that would in my opinion however not disappoint a single dub enthusiast, is closed with the dub "Nine Years", allegedly so titled as a humorous exaggeration about the length of time it took to create the track ... Do give this album a listen and you will be surprised.