In researching the musical past with a view to issuing CDs, it is quite common that one contact will lead to another and be of use in other areas we are investigating. However in the case of Eddie & Ernie's LOST FRIENDS nothing short of serendipity was at play.
The initial seeds of the project were sown when Dave Godin, with whom we were just developing a working relationship through the Treasures" series, entrusted Ace with the safe- keeping of the tapes that he had accumulated in his capacity as label owner and record company adviser. Among the boxes were several recordings that I suspected were previously unreleased material. We had those copied straight away and among them were six finished Eddie & Ernie tracks, including some truly excellent soul songs, crying out for release. But at that stage dealing with the major record labels who controlled most of the duo's other output was particularly hard and expensive, so the idea of an individual CD was put on the back burner. The next relevant discovery came when we were researching WC Stone's Loadstone tapes in San Francisco and came across the master to It's A Beautiful World, the track Stone had leased to Jay Boy in the UK in 1969. On the tape with that song was their version of You Make My Life A Sunny Day which had previously only been issued by Jacqueline Jones on Loadstone - another major find.
Top cardigan rocker Rob Finnis then put me in touch with Phoenix musicologist John Dixon with whom he had been working on Duane Eddy-associated recordings for the Ace label (see the Lee Hazlewood feature). John dug all things Phoenix and it turned out that it was the hometown of our two heroes. John was at least as keen as Dave and I to see their work showcased and honoured. There then followed the most surreal episode of the CD's evolution, when John fortunately made contact with Ernie and armed with the "Deep Soul Treasures" series, in all of which Dave waxes lyrically about the duo's brilliance, showed them to Ernie and read the booklet's notes to him. Ernie had been struggling through life, suffering many hard times along the way, and to find that his work, which as far as he knew was largely forgotten, was appreciated so much by music fans across the world was a very emotional moment for both him and John. That meeting meant we had to complete the project - it was just a matter of when.
Being Phoenix's #1 record collector meant that John had copies of Eddie and Ernie's ultra rare Artco singles, and when he sent me a cassette to listen to them, that convinced me that these sides too needed to be included on the CD. That led to the next piece of good fortune which came about when I was scouring the Original Sound vaults in LA with Alec Palao, our rock guru, when we came across the Artco master tapes including both of the duo's solo singles. It turned out that Original Sound had acquired the whole company when they took over Dyke & The Blazers' R&B smash Funky Broadway (initially the first release on Artco) and the tapes had lain dormant there for years.
That was just about the final piece to the jigsaw, though we did get lucky again when we applied to Sony for the Columbia single and threw in an extra request for a third unissued side that no one had ever heard. Luckily The Groove She Put Me In turned out to be a gem of an uptempo number and instead of having to hide it away quietly, we're all proud of its inclusion.
John Dixon excelled himself in getting the rights and master tape to the duo's first ever recording as the Drops, backing a local Phoenix singer named Little Worley and a very good record it is too.
Ironically we ended up with almost too much material and had to make the decision to omit the tracks that feature on "Treasures" as they have sold so phenomenally well that there can't be a fan of the group who does not already possess these. Also the final track selection maximised the business we conducted directly with Ernie.
This CD then is not a "Best Of" but an appreciation and overview of the duo's fine music. Every label they were on and virtually every single they issued are represented here. The pair's fascinating and ever expanding history is featured in the booklet along with Dave Godin's critical assessment of their soulful music, and a discography. The CD stands as a great testament to two exceptionally talented singers.
NB It is fitting that LOST FRIENDS is our first release under the new ARTISTRY IN SOUL banner as the pair's vocal skills, both individually and as a harmonising duo, certainly qualify for that description.
By Ady Croasdell