Snoop Dogg and Donna Summer, doo-wop and disco. Brooklyn Dreams have had an anything but predictable career trajectory since their 1977 debut. Nearly 30 years after their last album, Bruce Sudano and Joe "Bean" Esposito remember the long, winding, and sometimes bumpy road from Flatbush to Hollywood.
Nostrand Avenue (Brooklyn, NY) and Sunset Boulevard (Los Angeles, CA) could not be more geographically incongruous, yet the members of Brooklyn Dreams know both streets intimately. Over a four-year period in the mid-1970s, Brooklyn-born and bred Bruce Sudano, Joe “Bean” Esposito, and Eddie Hokenson recorded for a label that virtually defined the colorful characters that resided along the Sunset Strip.
Their street-corner harmonies landed on Casablanca Records, home to P-Funk, Village People, and a Viking-outfitted Cher. Brooklyn Dreams was something of an anomaly on the roster, with New York-centric lyrics and doo-wop and rock and roll-influenced melodies dressing their songs. After a one-album stint produced by Skip Konte (Three Dog Night) on Jimmy Ienner’s Millennium, which Casablanca distributed, Brooklyn Dreams was matched with a pair of unlikely producers—Bob Esty, who produced numerous disco acts on Casablanca (Roberta Kelly, Paul Jabara, and D.C. LaRue), and Juergen Koppers, best known as engineer for Giorgio Moroder. The gambit to sell Brooklyn Dreams as a disco-pop act worked for a moment when the group appeared with Donna Summer on “Heaven Knows” from her Live and More (1978) album, which earned them a Top 5 gold single. The group also co-wrote “Bad Girls” with Summer, which became the most commercially successful single of her career.
At their core, Brooklyn Dreams was not a disco act, and a faithful return to their influences on Won’t Let Go (1980) made little movement in the marketplace. Concurrent with the shift in style, Casablanca encountered seismic executive changes when company founder Neil Bogart sold the company to PolyGram and many artists either left or were released from the label. Caught in the shuffle, Brooklyn Dreams disbanded shortly thereafter. Eddie Hokenson returned to New York while Bruce Sudano recorded a solo album back on Millennium, Fugitive Kind (1981), and co-wrote a number one country hit for Dolly Parton, “Starting Over Again” with Summer. Joe “Bean” Esposito worked extensively with Giorgio Moroder, including the Flashdance (1983) soundtrack and the duo’s full-length Solitary Men (1983) collaboration, and became something of a cult figure when his recording of “You’re the Best” from The Karate Kid (1984) was adopted by the athletic world.