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Dave Godin's column for Soulful Kinda Music. Issue 52

Well, I can hardly believe that it is finally done! The Eddie & Ernie CD has finally got published, and believe me, there were times when we despaired of ever getting it completed. It must have been all of eighteen months ago when I first approached Ady Croasdell with a view to compiling a whole CD devoted to the work of this fabulous duo who, as those who know me will confirm, I have admired these many long decades. In theory, a great idea, but in practice (especially if you want to do it legally, respecting copyrights and making proper royalty payments!) not so simple. 

Ever since the first “Treasures” CD was issued we had been trying to track down the present whereabouts of Ernie Johnson so that he could have copies of the series, and could collect his accumulated composer royalties which were accruing with his collection agency in New York. We knew that Eddie has died some years ago, but so far as we knew, Ernie just had to be somewhere around. 

When I had the RIGHT ON! record label, I had had arm’s length contact with both of them via a contact who had managed to secure some new material they had made in Phoenix, Arizona which had yet to be released in the States, but which was available to us in the UK and Europe. Master copies of the tapes had arrived, but there was not yet enough material to make up an album which was my long term intention, although there were sides which could usefully precede the LP as 45rpm singles. 

We got a few press cuttings about their new sortie into the recording studios, and I awaited news as to what was going to happen in the States. I felt it would be stupid for us to issue a single and then find that a different one had been issued Stateside, and especially if having done that it whizzed up the US charts whilst we were promoting the “wrong” track. Well, we waited... and waited, and eventually the sad news filtered through that the company that had intended to issue this material had folded and therefore our contract with them folded as well. So, I put the tapes back into their boxes and put them at the back of a cupboard... 

Move forward to the present, and a contact in Phoenix, who is also a keen music aficionado, sent out word that people in Britain were trying to locate Ernie. And eventually he was found! Amazed and staggered that anyone had even remembered his recordings with Eddie Campbell (much less revered them), our friend took him for a meal, gave him copies of the CDs, and read him what I had written about their records in the “Treasures” series; John Dixon (our contact) told me that that clinched it, and Ernie finally realised it was all true - his work was held in the highest respect and esteem. 

John was able to interview him for us, and this biographical material was incorporated into the booklet notes, and this way we were finally able to get as definitive a discography as is ever ;ikely to be compiled because some of the records on which he and Eddie had done backups he could no longer remember. 

We then faced the problem, presented with this new information, of locating sources from which to license the material to go on their CD, and again, good luck was with us. The records which Eddie and Ernie made on the ARTCO label as solo artists turned up in the vaults of ORIGINAL SOUND. Dyke, (of Dyke & The Blazers fame) had hailed from Phoenix originally, and although ARTCO was Phoenix based, the technical mechanics had gone via ORIGINAL SOUND. Since both these singles now fetch over £1,000 each, to find pristine masters was a blessing indeed. 

Then of course came the bombshell. Although Ernie remembered well enough making records in Phoenix in the 70s, he knew the tapes no longer existed, and deeply regretted that these would not be able to be included because of this.... But! Hang on there! I still had master dupes which I had passed on to ACE records in London for safe-keeping and conservation..! So, through the release of this CD, Ernie too was able to hear again for the first time in 30 odd years, his own recordings which he thought had gone forever. 

On top of all this, we in the meantime established contact with Hadley Murrell who had been their manager and guru for many long years and was responsible for getting their recordings placed with REVUE and COLUMBIA, and who was as enthusiastic for the proposed project as we were. 

Then another piece of good fortune came our way when Ady researched the COLUMBIA tape library and found that they had also licensed an extra track to them in addition to the two that came out on a COLUMBIA single. So naturally we had to have that one too. 

Writing all this now makes it seem like it all happened overnight, but it took much time and much patience and detective work to finally bring it all to fruition. In the end, we had gathered up more material than could be accommodated on one CD, so I was faced with the decision of either making it a “Best of...” compilation, which would have meant duplicating tracks I had already included on the “Deep Soul Treasures” CDs, or leaving them off and making sure as much previously unavailable material was included as possible. 

I decided on the latter, and it really wasn’t that difficult a decision because I figured that anyone who was going to buy this new CD would almost certainly already have bought all the “Treasures” volumes, so in the booklet we listed all those tracks I had included there, plus all Eddie and Ernie related tracks which had been included on other KENT CDs. (Don’t worry though. The Soulpsychos and DG-phobics will still find something to gripe about. But they can be numbered in tens, whereas I look for sales figures in thousands!) It also fitted in neatly with the new concept logo of “Artistry In Soul” which KENT have now introduced, and it seemed entirely fitting that it should be the first release in that series since it entirely met all the criteria of its purpose and aim. 

And, as if all this weren’t enough, one of the unissued tracks had no composer credits attached to it, and I suddenly remembered why, because at the time I had been dealing with the co-composer and so he hadn’t bothered to write his name on that one because he knew I knew it was him. Lou Stallman. Co-composer of Sam Nesbitt’s classic “Black Mother Goose” and “Chase Those Clouds Away” on AMOS. Just to make sure my memory wasn’t playing tricks, I phoned Lou in New York, (we’d not spoken in years), and it was his turn for big surprise since even he had never had a copy of this recording, and only had his own sheet music to remember it by! So, he was well pleased to hear from me, and, as he was scheduled to make a trip to the UK Ady and I were both able to meet up with him. (And I think Ady did a bit more business with him too whilst he was here... but that’s another story...) 

So, you get all the tapes, listen to all the CD transfers and check quality etc., write the notes making sure all the label credits are carefully reproduced and accurate, and check the proofs, gather up the label scans and art work... and the CD is here!! Deep, deep sighs of relief! At last... that’s it! 

But not quite. By another of those fortunate circumstances, Ernie’s copies arrived on his birthday, and, as friends were throwing a party for him at a local club that evening, our contact and he had photocopy enlargements made of the cover and booklet pictures etc., which they were able to use to decorate the hall where his celebration was taking place. 

In addition to this, John drove him over to Ernie’s parents’ home so that they could see a copy of this tribute CD, and, as they are both in their 80s the small typeface that has to be used in CD booklets was too difficult for them (a problem I increasingly share as the years advance!), and so John had to read the whole text out loud. Naturally they were pleased and proud. There’s nothing “sweet” about such incidents in life - it’s human warmth and soulfulness manifesting and maintaining. The heart of what Soul music is really all about for those with ears to hear and hearts to respond. 

But too, I must be quite clear about this project and affirm that it was a team effort. Without all the various people involved who each contributed their own expertise and energy, it would never have got done, and too, above all else, let’s never lose sight of the fact that without Ernie Johnson and the late Eddie Campbell, our lives would not have been as musically, and perhaps psychologically, enriched as they are. I salute them both, and to have been able to compile this CD was both a joy and an honour. 

Until next time. Keep the faith (and all the rest is propaganda)