If you’re the type that haunts used record stores, it’s very likely you’ve come across the album art for Donnie & Joe Emerson’s teenage dream and sole release, 1979’s Dreamin’ Wild.  A curio hanging on a store’s wall, perhaps you, like me, incorrectly assumed it was, oh I dunno, a long lost Argentinean psych album…or maybe you thought it was the true-life reference point and inspiration for the 2005 film Brothers Of The Head, chronicling the life of conjoined Siamese twin rock stars. Or not. In actuality Dreamin’ Wild was recorded in the Emerson brothers family built home studio in rural Washington State, a tale covered in Rock-n-Roll Farmers: Donnie & Joe Emerson, the accompanying documentary to this month’s Light In The Attic Records reissue.

Not unlike the label’s previous digs (see: The Strange Tale of Jim Sullivan’s U.F.O. and the Rodriguez records), Dreamin’ Wild boasts a mercurial back-story to match its recorded contents. Leading an isolated, near hermetic existence out in the sticks — free from pop culture, except what drifted in via FM radio and bits of television — the Emerson brothers crafted a sonic medley of whatever sounded good, trends and movements be damned. Yacht rock? Sure. Bubblegum pop? Check. Marvin Gaye? Why not. Their homebrew, a lo-fi mix of naiveté, blue-eyed soul, psychedelic folk, and bedroom funk eventually coalesced on the privately pressed Dreamin’ Wild…only to drift into obscurity for the next three decades. But as Oliver at Soul Sides notes, “This is one of those LPs that helps one understand why people bother to even look for records to begin with”. Amen.

Below, the Emerson brothers haunting, slow groove, “Baby“. LITA 2012 reissue available, here.

MP3: Donnie & Joe Emerson :: Baby

10 Responses to “Donnie & Joe Emerson :: Dreamin’ Wild”

  1. Is this the source cover of the new Ariel Pink single?

  2. Yeah, records like this prove LITA’s status as the reissue label. So good.

  3. This is so good. From the look of the cover I was expecting that epic Mark Wahlberg studio session from ‘Boogie Nights’.

  4. woah- totally sold on this album. nice review

  5. smooove. thanks for the turn on.

  6. @AJkinsel – yeah, this is it.

  7. Enough great things can’t be said about this record (and LITA). Wish “Good Time” was getting the sort of attention “Baby” is. Can’t get enough of that one.

  8. “Good Time” is pretty tight, but it’s all about “Give Me The Chance” !!!

  9. [...] a nice cover version on Ariel Pink’s new album but the original has a much more interesting backstory. We’re on a real crooning tip this week, what with the announcement of a new Scott Walker [...]

  10. Oh me, oh my, talk about a lost gem. I discovered this album on Spotify quite by chance (if there is such a thing) a few days ago and I haven’t been able to listen to anything else. I suddenly realised that I’ve been yearning for music like this for a long time. Music made by humans, for humans. Ironically, its flaws and imperfections somehow only go to make it seem more perfect and to show up the turgid vacuity of most of the hyper-polished garbage that’s foisted on us every day.

    The songs, and Donnie’s melodious vocals in particular, conjure such a kaleidoscope of imaginings and feelings, most of which I’d barely be able to put into words, but the overwhelming sense is one of youthful hope and heartbreak, in equal measure. A lot of that heartbreak is inseparable from the story behind the album’s making of course, and the infinite “what ifs?”.

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