"It was 1994:'s Karen Lawrence who gave the others the choice of being second best or giving up" (Geoff Barton in Sounds)
Every so often a great album or a truly talented artist spends their entire career toiling away just below the awareness of all but a lucky few who find them. One such is Karen Lawrence. She has produced some good music, one genuinely great album, wrote a platinum hit record and seems to have been on the receiving end of more music industry rubbish than most.
She started out in a band called L.A. Jets. Hard to find much about them online (swamped by the football team), but the one video I can find shows a mid 70s pop rock band with no distinguishing features. After round one of music industry hassles most of the L.A. Jets popped up again as 1994: (the colon is meant to be there) and had money and attention lavished on them, including producer Jack Douglas (Aerosmith), by A&M records. The result in my view is the best hard rock album of the 70's, if you don't believe me, then critic Geoff Barton called it "The best female fronted record of all time". Available as a brilliant expanded edition from Rock Candy Records if you have even a passing interest in loud rock music you need to hear this album. Nine perfectly formed songs with Karen's voice competing with Steve Schiff's soloing and Bill Rhodes inventive solid bass playing for top billing. Still one of my most played albums. I found 1994: thanks to an article in Sounds by Mr Barton highlighting then recent, 1979, US import albums*. He was talking about the follow up 'Please Stand By' but was so fulsome in his praise of the debut that I had to have it. £1.99 in the same cut out bin that I found Bruford's One Of A Kind in, quite a day that!
Later work includes Rip and Tear a cracking solo album still available digitally, and blues band Blue By Nature, and since 2000 silence. Seek her out and wonder why, like Kim Edgar in my recent post you haven't heard her before.
The sleeve notes for the Rock Candy reissues give the 1994: story as well as anywhere, and make an extra reason for buying them.
A very informative interview with Karen is here
* If anyone ever comes across this article online let me know, I discovered the band Storm there as well and would love to re read it as I'm sure other gems are waiting to be unearthed.