Eddie & Ernie

Eddie & Ernie were the Phoenix-based soul duo of Eddie Campbell and Ernie Johnson, issuing about 15 singles between 1963 and 1971. To make matters a little confusing, some of the singles were credited to Ernie & Eddie, the New Bloods, or Ernie & Ed. There were also 1967 solo releases by Campbell and Johnson. Running through about a dozen labels, they never got any significant chart action, though some of the singles appeared on relatively big imprints like Columbia, Chess, and Buddah. They were good soul singers, though, often recording their own material, sometimes sounding a little like Memphis or Alabama deep soul singers with a slightly less avowedly church-like overlay, sometimes going into more minor melodies and downbeat subject matter than most such soul performers did. Eddie & Ernie, like so many soul singers, did some time in gospel groups as youngsters before hooking up as a duo. They first worked in the studio as background vocalists on a 1961 single by Little Worley & the Drops, and sang background on other singles before making their first recordings as a pair (initially as Ernie & Eddie) in 1963. That set off a trail of singles that took them through many labels, including Nightingale, Checker, Tomorrow, Eastern, 20th Century-Fox, Chess, Shazam, Columbia, Artco, Revue, and Buddah. Although the records were average-to-above average soul and never less than competent, they lacked a solid unifying style or that one great song or two that would grab national airplay. In that respect they were like many of the uncounted soul also-rans of the '60s, albeit ones that persevered and got to record more than most. Though some of their singles sounded as if they could have been done in Memphis or Muscle Shoals, they also did poppier sad ballads and dance tunes with a more Northern production feel, and in fact these are more distinctive than their churchier deep soul-ish recordings. In the early '70s, the two served as singers in a Phoenix band called Phoenix Express, though just one song has surfaced, and then decades later on a CD compilation. In 2002, the Kent CD Lost Friends assembled two-dozen tracks spanning Eddie & Ernie's career, including solo endeavors, previously unreleased material, and recordings on which they sang that were billed to Phoenix Express, the New Bloods, and Little Worley & the Drops. ~ Richie Unterberger

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