DONNIE AND JOE EMERSON: LIVIN’ THE DREAM


Donnie and Joe Emerson: Good Time
Give Me the Chance
Baby
From Dreamin’ Wild (Enterprise and Co, 1979)

This is one of those LPs that helps one understand why people bother to even look for records to begin with.

The cover screams bargain bin. Actually, it screams “so bad it’s good” that even bloggers show it love for being so bad.

But here’s the crazy thing…the actual album sounds nothing like you’d expect it to. Had the album had two loner, folk rock types, you could better understand how the Emerson brothers put together such a heady mix of psych and soul on here but you’d be forgiven if you assumed it was some schlocky power pop instead.

“Good Time” opens the album and already you realize: “oh wait, this is going to be some crazy sh–, isn’t it?” The mix of fuzzed out guitars with a unmistakably bright melody is already worth noting but then the vocals come in and everything hits some next level you would never have guessed possible.

I don’t mean to overstate it; his is not an amazing voice. Donnie (I think it’s Donnie?) has a tendency to swallow his lines rather than pushing them out but still, there’s something simple and innocent about the performance and you can imagine the young Emersons, with their big hair, jamming this one out in the basement, visions of arena tours dancing in their heads.

Those into funky psych will no doubt gravitate to the dark, smoky “Give Me the Chance.” In listening to this, I’m reminded of any number of ’70s rock bands who had a similar vocal style but a little before the 1:30 mark, the song falls deep off into a crevice of crazy synthesizer effects (I imagine Edan going nuts over this kind of stuff).

But seriously: it is all about “Baby.” This is easily one of the best things I’ve heard in a long time (I’d easily put it ahead of anything on that Sly, Slick and Wicked LP and that’s a great album). I’m not even entirely sure what he’s singing besides “Baby” but it doesn’t matter; just the way he croons, “oooh ooooh baby/yes, oh, baby” melts me like hot butter on (what?) the popcorn. Someone on Soulstrut described this song, “as if Shuggie Otis and Roy Orbison had a baby together” and that exactly nails it. I want to get lost inside this shaggy beanbag of a song, slipping into its cushy folds and dream wild like Donnie and Joe.

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