When people think of Asylum Records, David Geffen’s extraordinary boutique of singer/songwriters and (mainly) American bands, they tend to think of Joni Mitchell and The Eagles. Perhaps in recent years they might have come across Judee Sill. But they may not know that the label housed many other artists, almost all of them exceptional, who didn’t get the attention they deserved. Karen Alexander, a Californian singer/songwriter, made two albums for Asylum in the 1970s. The first, Isn’t It Always Love, was very much influenced by her world travels and her relocation to Iran, although you wouldn’t know it from the slightly twee cover art. It’s a glorious piece of work that was reissued in Japan a fear years ago on CD. I tracked down Karen last year and caught up with her at length via Skype. Here’s the result.

Above: Detail from the inner sleeve of Karen Alexander’s second album, Voyager.


  1. Hi Charles

    How gratifying it is to read a Karen Alexander interview. I wish someone would give her albums proper (re)issues in the UK.

    “Isn’t It Always Love”, a vastly underrated album, suffered from minimal promotion and early deletion in the UK following a transfer of Asylum Records from EMI to Warner in early 1976. Some of its tracks are of such high quality that they ought to be regarded as timeless classics: the dreamlike harmoniousness of “Fish in the Sea”, the flowing elegance of “Russian Lady”, the romantic imagery of “Leaf on a River”, the busy atmospheric jazz of “Baghdad Ragman”.

    “Voyager” has never had a UK release at all.

    Considering the deluge of rediscoveries of lesser talents by archive-exploring magazines and labels, I’m mystified that her work has been largely neglected over the years.

    I’m grateful that your activity and enthusiasm have provided some much-merited recognition.


    1. Hi Paul,

      Many thanks for your sharing your thoughts about and impressions of Isn’t It Always Love. So many albums were just thrown out on to the market and left to fend for themselves and it’s a shame that something so good ended up going unnoticed. Some years before I first heard it, I did see it somewhere and was put off by the cover art. It wasn’t until the Japanese CD came along that I reconsidered and was immediately glad I’d done so. I wonder if my copy of Voyager is an American one or whether the album had a German pressing. I’ll have to check. You are right; some of the obscure artists whose work has been revived are not equal to Karen in terms of talent. Thank you for reading the piece and taking the time to get in touch.

      Best wishes,


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