Crate Digging: Karen Lawrence and 1994

Crate Digging is a new addition to 50thirdand3rd and if you’re a vinyl junkie like most of us you will understand the term. But let me start by saying: crate digging is NOT simply record shopping. Anyone can walk into an organized record store and find something in the new releases or rarities section.

Crate digging is different. Crate digging is filing through hundreds of Neil Diamond, James Last, and Chicago albums to find that original mono pressing of The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society for $2 or that Minor Threat, Out of Step EP for a buck.
Okay it’s rare for that to happen but it can happen and once you’re hooked….well you can ask my family what it’s like to vacation with a Dad who stops at flea markets and thrift shops to hunt for vinyl.

Overall it’s not even about finding some treasure that’s worth a lot of money, it’s about finding a record that quickens your pulse when you see it. A record that takes you back in time. It’s about the music. And for a buck or two, you can take a chance on that band you’ve never heard of and strike gold.

Crate Digging is where we will write about striking gold.

(Shout out to Aaron Cooper for the first-rate graphic)

1994: ‎ Please Stand By…
A&M Records ‎
Released 1979

Please Stand By… 
Wait For Me 
Don’t Break It Up 
Our Time Will Come 
Wild In The Streets 
Stop This Heartache 
So Bad 
Nerves Of Steel 
Keep Ravin’ On

1994
Karen Lawrence (vocals, keyboards)
Rick Armand (guitar, keyboards, vocals)
Bill Rhodes (bass, guitar)
Terry Linvill (bass)
John Desautels (drums)

I can’t tell you what would make a song like 1994‘s Please Stand By… grab hold of 12-year-old me, but I can tell you that after hearing the track on the radio back in 1979, I would call in, probably once a week to request they play it again. The mix of heavy chugging guitars and new wave keys was in my wheelhouse at the time.

Please Stand By… was 1994’s second record, following their critically lauded 1978 debut which was notable for its Aerosmith connections; lead singer Karen Lawrence sung backup vocals on Aerosmith’s Draw the Line and Brad Whitford guests on the debut which was also produced by famed Aerosmith producer Jack Douglas. Lawrence also sung backup with Jeff Beck and was in a band called LA Jets who released a record on RCA in 1976.

I must have talked my father into buying the record for me once I saw the cover, featuring a spandex clad Lawrence and her band-mates beside a black Lamborghini. It remained in my collection up until the big purge of the early 90s.

So imagine my joy while crate digging with Scott in Orlando in March when I came across a pristine (still in the shrink-wrap!) copy of Please Stand By... It still sounds great, maybe a little dated, but it’s a really good AOR record and Lawrence is an outstanding vocalist.

1994 had a minor hit with the title track, (maybe a very minor hit) but in hindsight perhaps because Pat Benatar had just released her critically acclaimed debut, and Heart was all over the radio, maybe there was only so much room for a rock band with a powerful female vocalist? Yet after listening to this record again I would easily place Lawrence’s voice along side Benatar and Anne Wilson.

1994 covered a lot of ground on Please Stand By…”Don’t Break It Up” could slide easily onto a Blondie record with its disco beat and catchy chorus. They rough up the 1973 Garland Jeffreys hit  “Wild in the Street” giving it a Springsteen shuffle and “Stop This Heartache” has echoes of Steely Dan. The album closes with the power pop gem “Keep Ravin’ On” which really showcases Lawrence’s incredible voice.

1994 broke up soon after being dropped from their label but Karen went on to write the multi-platinum hit  “Prisoner (Love Theme from Eyes of Laura Mars)”, which was sung by Barbra Streisand. She put out a couple of solo records before forming blues/R&B band Blue By Nature in 1993 who released three records, the last one in 2000 and she sang backing vocals on Slash’s Snakepit 2000 record “Ain’t Life Grand.”

Both Please Stand By and 1994’s self-titled debut have been re-released on CD by Rock Candy Records

Rock Candy Records

Karen Lawrence – Facebook

            

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Stephen

Domestic now, but spent early to late 80s playing drums in a hair metal band in Toronto. Since then I’ve lost the hair and have found new ways to scratch the rock and roll itch.

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