Local Wire

Betty Davis

Betty Davis spent the 1970s setting a towering standard for future freak-funk broads. Her strong come-ons in the growly vox department could still scare modern wanna-fucks back to the Stone Age. The brief, volatile relationship with her then-hubby Miles Davis might've thrown some wrenches into her music industry desires, though, leading to a somewhat brief career. Before she booked, bumps 'n' grinds like "Don't Call Her No Tramp," "Steppin' in Her I. Miller Shoes," and "He Was a Big Freak" prowled across the outré reaches of the FM dial like fat-ass bellbottom funk giving a go at fuzzed-out glam. But even the kinkiest fiend finds time for a post-coital smoke ("In the Meantime," "I Will Take That Ride"). These tracks can all be found on Davis' initial offerings, They Say I'm Different and Betty Davis, out now as reissues on Light in the Attic. The records serve up wah-wah guitar lickings, snare shuffling, and cool, catty backup gals curling around Betty's come-slither. Listening to these selections, you realize Davis' sweaty aesthetic is one few attempt even today. She's got a snotty swerve that modern "empowered" divas like the Pussycat Dolls can only imagine. The singer's eventual toss to obscurity is regrettable, but her raunch has hovered over Rick James, Prince, Outkast, the Bellrays, Amy Winehouse, and more.
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Eric Davidson