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Ed Askew

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Ed Askew, a gay singer-songwriter, cut one of the best and most obscure LPs in the original ESP Disk’s vague rock/folk/freak series, issued eponymously and since reissued as Ask the Unicorn, before apparently dropping off the edge of his world. Years later, thanks to detective work by - naturally - Mr Clint Simonson of the De Stijl Records imprint, it turned out that not only was Askew still breathing but he had actually recorded a follow-up to his ESP Disk in 1970 that had lain in the can for decades. Originally released as a limited vinyl edition by Simonson himself, Little Eyes blew even his revered ESP side to ribbons and stands as one of the most magical outsider/freak artefacts to ever escape the prodigious gravity of the decade in which it was birthed. Askew has a highly idiosyncratic vocal style that is equal parts quizzical bubble-gum chewing kind on shrooms and doe-eyed real people Richard Brautigan character. Perhaps the closest comparison would be to Tom Rapp or Judee Sill’s old buddy Tommy Peltier. His instrumental conceptions certainly owe a massive debt to Bob Dylan circa 64/65 - who the fuck didn’t - especially his spine-tingling harmonica work but it’s the beautiful arc of the songs that will keep you coming back, the way he combines rough, fluffed performances with eye-watering lyrical sentiments, heartbreaking phrasing and weird, clunky chords played on a ‘Martin tiple’.

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