Friday, May 04, 2007

She was a big freak

Here's a raw treat for your funky weekend.
I said I'm wigglin' my fanny
I'm raunchy dancing
I'm-a-doing it doing it
This is my night out

- "If I'm in Luck I Might Get Picked Up"
Betty Davis is most often remembered for being the model turned second wife to Miles Davis, who introduced him to Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone, which in turn helped inspire him to record Bitches Brew. But not many know her as a funk goddess pioneer. She was a flamboyant and RAW performer who's sexual overtones were way ahead of her time, paving the way for many female artists since.

Light in the Attic Records is on a serious roll with reissues. Here they've reissued Betty Davis' first two albums, and, like past efforts, have beautifully packaged them great liner notes from soul music scholar Oliver Wang (soul sides, o-dub,) who chats with Davis in only her 2nd interview in 25 years. (A third interview is in this week's cover story for the Seattle Weekly ("Betty Davis Is Back")

These albums aren't out for two more weeks, but Rhapsody has 'em right now.

Album: Betty Davis - Betty Davis

Davis' first album featured an all-star Bay area lineup. Bass legend Larry Graham and drummer Greg Errico were Family Stone veterans anchoring a tight rhythm section; while guitarists Neil Schon and Douglas Rodriguez were member of Santana. And if that weren't enough, there's the Tower of Power horns as well. But it's Davis who commands your attention, as a woman on the prowl, singing with raw sexuality.

Album: Betty Davis - They Say I'm Different

Davis' second album continued the sexual aggression, even going as far as S&M on "He was a Big Freak": "I used to beat him with a turquoise chain, yeah!" That she sounds like she enjoyed makes you wonder who the bigger freak was.

As to who that song was about, it may have possibly been Miles, who said this about divorcing Betty after only one year of marriage:
Betty was too young and wild for the things I expected from a woman...Betty was a free spirit, she was raunchy and all that kind of shit.
She had a more blues-based band for this effort, but the lady can't help but let her funk come out.

You'll be begging for more (like the Big Freak that you are.)

More: An interview in Seattle Weekly reveals that while she's stayed away from the music business, she continues to record music. Asked what the songs are like, she simply says "They're sex-oriented... Yeah. All my songs are about sex."

Previously: From the vault, circa 1971 (Light in the attic reissues of Karen Dalton, Jackie Mitoo)

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J Shifty said...

Well, that was indeed some solid funk and a bit of fun. And I give you thanks and high marks for the pithy historical bits.

drake leLane said...

Thanks J... it looks like our local rag either is in the same frame of mind as me, or they poached my headline. This just posted yesterday: "She Was A Big Freak"