By Bob “The Record Guy” Paxon
This one will be short and simple – I know almost nothing about this record or the artist!
Derrick Erni lived in Buffalo and made two records here. Both are low-fi “productions”, if you can call them that. He issued them on his own personal label; private pressings both in style and sound, and literally ‘private’. They seem to have gotten little distribution if any and were maybe issued just for personal satisfaction more than commercial expectations. But who knows? I sure don’t. Nobody else seems to either.
Come Home Baby / I’ve Got To Know were issued on Erni Records with a catalog number for each side: ER-1 and ER-2. All Alone / Never was issued on Derwall Records as ER-3 and ER-4. ‘Der’ is certainly for ‘Derrick’. I don’t know what ‘Wall’ is for.
They are minimal in the extreme, sounding like a more stripped down version of fellow Buffalo’s MoDo Records if you can imagine that. A Manuel Morrow gets credit for the arrangement, but arrangement and production is negligible. Instrumentation is minimal, polish is nil. Derrick’s not the greatest singer. One of the instruments is out of tune.
What you do have is pure emotion shining through. In general his sides are Deep Soul but Never is Sweet Soul taken to an emotional extreme. As such its found an audience among the Lowrider/ East L.A. sweet soul crowd. As rare as it is, you’ll find about eight videos of it on YouTube, most from fans from that audience.
Never’s instrumentation consists of mostly a prominent organ played ‘without virtuosity’ and I have a feeling Mr. Erni is the organist. Percussion could be a built-in rhythm box in the organ. The track has the feel of something created at home.
Both records probably came out in the late 1960s, as did MoDo Records; and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out MoDo was involved with them.
The only other thing I know is that a Derrick W Erni,Sr of Buffalo passed away on December 29, 2008. A picture accompanies his obituary. It appears to be from the Sixties or Seventies and he looks as you’d expect, a dapper gentleman who could well be a Soul Singer.
As always: if you know something, say something! I need info on him. And a copy of either of his records wouldn’t hurt. Because I don’t have either yet.