Album Reviews

Karen Young: Hot Shot (Big Break Records)

karen young

Karen Young was much like Tasha Thomas in that her solo career came at the fading of the disco era, releasing but one solo album, and then dying suddenly at the young age of 39. Unlike Thomas, though, Young’s career was brief; she was a local Philadelphia musician who performed solo as well as fronting a group, Sandd. She released her debut single, “Hot Shot,” in 1978, a groove-heavy affair made sweeter by her powerful, soulful voice, and the song quickly rose to number one. Hot Shot appeared shortly thereafter, and it was a minor success as well. Two further singles followed in the disco vein,  “Baby You Ain’t Nothin’ Without Me” and “Bring On The Boys,” both fine club numbers, but neither of which obtained the same success as her debut single. Those three songs constitute one half of her album, yet the other three songs are sonically diverse. The upbeat  “Where Is He” is discotheque-minded fare, but is a bit more restrained than the other dance numbers found here;  “God Knows I’m Just A Woman”  is a straight-up blues-rock number–Young’s voice bears more than a passing resemblance to Janis Joplin–while album closing “Beau” is a powerful, gut-wrenching ballad that proves Young was capable of more than just dance floor fare. The bonus tracks featured on this deluxe edition are nice, if not a little redundant, capturing different mixes that might be more familiar to listeners of the era. Hot Shot would be her sole offering, but not her final release; a handful of singles would appear throughout the 1980s, but her career came to an end with her sudden death in 1991. However, her music lives on; “Hot Shot’ is an exemplary hit of the era that still makes regular appearances on disco nights and compilations, while “Bring On The Boys” would soon become a very popular gay club anthem. This reissue shows just what the world lost—a talented, powerful singer whose abilities were never fully realized.

Hot Shot is available now from Big Break Records

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