Unckle Eddie Returns!
Daddy B. Nice's #98 ranked Southern Soul Artist
"I'm Gone Tell Momma w/ Crystal Dylite"
Unckle Eddie Returns!
August 1, 2022:
Unckle Eddie (Retrospective)Here's a blast from the past. I hadn't thought of Unckle Eddie (who hasn't been active) in many years. I remember how much the mis-spelling of "uncle" distressed me at that early point in my infatuation with southern soul music. My Masters Degree in English was still with me with sufficient power that the very word "unkle" made me wince. But recently a new "unkle" has arrived on the southern soul scene: Unkle Phunk. And in reviewing his new album of various artists, I never once was bothered by the "K" instead of the "C" in "unkle". Too much ungrammatical southern soul music had rushed over me like water smoothing a stone in the intervening years.
Here’s the excerpt on Unkle Eddie from Daddy B. Nice's review of Unkle Phunk's Juke Joint Vol.1.:
May 1, 2020:
VARIOUS ARTISTS: Unkle Phunk's Juke Joint, Vol. 1 (Full Of Soul Music/House Of Phunk Music, LLC) Five Stars ***** Can't Miss. Pure Southern Soul Heaven.....The last time I encountered an "uncle" who spelled his name "unkle" was Unkle Eddie. In 2009 Eddie had a novelty hit along the Gulf Coast called I'm Gone Tell Momma" featuring a precocious, borderline-cruel, little girl named Crystal Dylite who amused herself by getting Unkle Eddie into hot water with his long-suffering wife. Of course, Eddie had it coming.
Five years earlier, his single "Black Magic Woman" was the most-requested song on the now-defunct, Pensacola-based, Southern Soul website named Chitlin' Circuit for what seemed the better part of two years (2004-2005) and became so popular along that stretch of the Gulf Coast that it was played as a Mardi Gras song. Unkle Eddie's songs were raucous, raggedy-assed and funny in a way we don't see often nowadays.
Enter Unkle Phunk in 2020. His collection of various artists, Unkle Phunk's Juke Joint Vol.1, is a welcome return to that kind of loosey-goosey entertainment....
Read the full review.
Daddy B. Nice's Original Profile: September 9, 2009
Crystal Dylite: "Momma, Momma, we home! And I got something to tell you."
Unckle Eddie: "Crystal Dylite, keep your mouth shut."
"I'm Gone Tell Momma" is a duet-slash-dialogue between Unckle Eddie, playing a beleaguered father, and Crystal Dylite, who sounds like a precocious six-year-old but is actually a grown woman, or at least, a full-grown girl. I say that because I've seen her picture, and it's good to know that Unckle Eddie won't be pulling a toddler onstage with him to perform the song at one in the morning in some hole in the wall on the Gulf Coast.
Crystal Dylite: "Momma, wait 'till I tell you what we done today."
Unckle Eddie: "Don't be worrying your Momma with that now."
Crystal Dylite: "We went a whole lot of places."
Unckle Eddie: "What we done today is just our-our-our little secret, you hear?"
Crystal Dylite: "Daddy say he gonna give me five dollars if I say I didn't see him kissing that woman. And Momma, I didn't see him kissing that woman. And Daddy, where's my money?"
Daddy and daughter have just returned from doing some suspicious domestic errands, and the little tattletale, Crystal Dylite, recounts every misstep--from the off-limits music to the brown-bag liquor to the tryst with a woman in the park--with a zest that verges on the sadistic, all born of the little girl's complete confidence in her command of her audience (her Momma) and her understanding of her unique power over her Daddy in this domestic situation.
Meanwhile, Unckle Eddie as her Daddy--in a voice halfway-between Red Foxx and Amos & Andy--moans and demurs.
"You know you can't be making up all these stories in front of your Momma."
But Crystal Dylite is bubbling over with information.
"We went by this house, and Daddy told me to stay in the car. He say, 'I'll be right back.' When he knocked on the door, a woman opened the door. And I said, 'Ooooh, I'm gonna tell my Momma!' And Daddy said he didn't care."
Everything you know.
The next time
I leave the house,
You can believe
That you won't go!"
--is uptempo, not especially hummable or memorable, but the wonderfully-nuanced dialogue in the verses, anchored by the fine walking guitar line of sideman Ron Vincent, burns itself into the brain with its familial vividness. "I'm Gone Tell Momma" is destined to be a classic Southern Soul novelty song or there's no justice in the world, even in the small and humble confines of the chitlin' circuit.
Eddie Wilson started out as a rapper named EZ in a group called the HBO Crew in the late-nineties, Pensacola-Mobile-Biloxi swathe of the Gulf Coast, which unlike today (take it from your Daddy B. Nice) was a wasteland for Southern Soul.
Somewhere along the line, Eddie got "religion" and decided to graduate to "grown folks music," fashioning himself in the novelty-blues tradition of Jimmy Lewis and Poonanny and Southern oral-tradition storytellers such as Willie P. Richardson, whose "phone pranks" albums have entertained listeners in the Deep South for two decades.
Another musical inspiration for Unckle Eddie was undoubtedly Bobby Rush. You can hear echoes of the hilarious Bobby Rush/Vickie Baker duet, "I Don't Want You To Leave Your Wife" in the equally funny verses of "I'm Gone Tell Momma."
It's interesting to remember that Bobby Rush, in his first decade of recording, also plied a unique and hard-to-categorize blues he called "folk-funk" or something similar, and his style made him--like Unckle Eddie today--something of an outsider.
Unckle Eddie's "jump blues" doesn't sound like anything currently on the Southern Soul charts. As often as not, it recalls inspired white interpreters of the blues like Canned Heat, Dr. John, Leon Redbone, The Band (especially vocalist Levon Helm) and even Australian alternative/popster Nick Cave.
Unckle Eddie's first album, Party Tonight, which came out in 2004, went largely unnoticed. But its centerpiece, "Black Magic Woman," was the most-requested song on the now-defunct, Pensacola-based Southern Soul website named Chitlin' Circuit for what seemed the better part of two years (2004-2005) and became so popular along that stretch of the Gulf Coast that it was played as a Mardi Gras song.
I could only hear a sample in those days, and the sound quality of "Black Magic Woman" and its equally fascinating partner-single, "Taking Applications," left much to be desired.
"I'm Gone Tell Momma" and the rest of the songs from Unckle Eddie's 2009 Shake The Dust Off CD represented a quantum leap forward in terms of production, and yet those early, rudimentary songs were in many ways a more accurate barometer of Unckle Eddie's ouevre than the more streamlined, novelty Southern Soul of "I'm Gone Tell Momma."
If you like crazy, tinny, garage-band, swamp-and-bayou Southern Soul the way the late Big Ike used to do it in a song like "Teddy Bear," then you'll love Unckle Eddie, and you'll absolutely revel in the bird calls, hoots and hollers, and every conceivable other jungle-noise diversion in "Black Magic Woman."
Listen to Unckle Eddie singing "Black Magic Woman" Live at an outdoor, lawn-chair and cooler concert on YouTube.
"Black Magic Woman--
The root doctor--
Put a spell on me.
She took my footloose
And stole my fancy free."
The best approach for a fan new to Unckle Eddie is to get used to "I'm Gone Tell Momma" and the other great singles from Shake The Dust Off--about which more in a minute--before travelling backward into the unpolished roughness of the first CD. Once you've gotten used to Unckle Eddie's backwoods folklore in a slightly more slicked-up fashion, you'll wade into the old, crude stuff--"Black Magic Woman," "Taking Applications" and "You Pulled Me Back" from the Party Tonight CD--with an enthusiasm that overlooks any and all technical flaws.
"Taking Applications" in particular foreshadowed some of the finest cuts on Shake The Dust Off, introducing fans to an uptempo, high-energy, propulsive rhythmic texture that has been largely lacking from Southern Soul of late.
You can hear it on the new album in "I'm Gone Tell Momma" and "This Old Bull," a tune in which the guitar work of Vincent recalls some of the best moments from Norman Greenbaum's gospel-rock classic, "Spirit In The Sky." The tinkling piano riff that commences "This Old Bull" is a master stroke, although the programmed horns in the song's mid-section are an unfortunate flaw.
"Butch Didn't Attack"--about a cuckolded husband who is so snake-bit even his trusted dog betrays him--is one of the finest tracks on Shake The Dust Off. The terrific lyrics are buttressed by a fine, country-tinged Unckle Eddie vocal. At five minutes plus, "Butch Didn't Attack" is a little too long, but it's unique.
"At The Cabaret," Unckle Eddie's club anthem, has less flavor than "Butch Didn't Attack" or "This Old Bull." For Unckle Eddie, its about as generic and conservative as you're going to get, but it too has a distinct verve.
Listen to Unckle Eddie singing "At The Cabaret" on YouTube.
Your Daddy B. Nice gave Shake The Dust Off a five-star, "Southern Soul heaven" rating and review when it came out. The album is a breath of fresh air. Unckle Eddie is a true original. He imitates no one. And once you understand this and succumb to his songs, you'll be returning to "Black Magic Woman" and "Taking Applications," ready to rock and roll like back in the day, the technique be damned.
--Daddy B. Nice
About Unckle Eddie Returns!
Eddie James Wilson, Jr. (aka Unckle Eddie) was born in Chicago, Illinois. "I was immediately shipped South," Unckle Eddie told an interviewer. "I got off the boat in Philadelphia, Mississippi, and I've spent most of my adult life in the Mississippi area around Moss Point and Pascagoula." (The Gulf Coast west of Mobile, Alabama.)
Song's Transcendent Moment
If You Liked. . . You'll Love
If you liked Jimmy Lewis's "Don't Send A Girl To Do A Woman's Job," you'll love Unckle Eddie's "I'm Gone Tell Momma."
Honorary "B" Side
"Black Magic Woman"
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