ed askew A Child In the Sun: Radio Sessions 1969-1970 (LP, £18.95)label: drag city
Ed Askew recorded the sublimely gorgeous ‘Ask The Unicorn’ LP in 1968 for the legendary proto-DIY label ESP records, which has now been recognized as a god-damn underground classic. Armed only with a tiple (sort of a South American mandolin) and his lilting neigh of a voice (and bearing superficial resemblances to labelmates Pearls Before Swine and heady UK acoustic folkers Incredible String Band), Askew spun tales of doomed sisters, crashing universes, budding gay love and a serious fondness for roses on his rare, precious and beautiful album. After this lone release, Ed Askew seemingly vanished in the romantic mists of time … until a second, previously unreleased album surfaced in 2003, ‘Little Eyes’ - recorded but a few years after ‘Ask The Unicorn’ and every bit as honey-dipped by the musical gods. Since then, Askew has undergone a rightful resurgence and surely everyone that ever dug a Donovan or Devendra tune has taken notice, so Ed’s obscure 1984 cassette ‘Imperfiction’ was also reissued by Galactic Zoo Disk / Drag City in 2011 and quickly sold out. Ed has since resumed making music and has released several albums over the last decade but meanwhile, it appears the Askew historical goldmine had not been fully tapped. To wit, Ed unearthed four reels of radio sessions taped in 1969-70, performing songs from his first two albums (and the totally previously unreleased track ‘Green Song’). The tapes were meticulously studied by Galactic Zoo Disk honcho Plastic Crimewave (of Galactic Zoo Dossier fame) and the best versions were extracted for this release - absolutely stunning renditions of Askew standards like ‘Fancy That’ or ‘Red Woman’ and ‘Mr. Dream’ - which are perhaps even more gorgeous than the originals.
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