Reviewed by Thomas Fawcett, Fri., Dec. 18, 2009
Betty DavisNasty Gal (Light in the Attic)
Betty DavisIs It Love or Desire (Light in the Attic)
Following the 2007 reissue of her 1973 debut and 1974 follow-up, Seattle archivists Light in the Attic continue unearthing the catalog of freaky funk goddess Betty Davis. Backed by the stone grooves of Funk House, Davis proves herself a Nasty Gal on the title track of her 1975 LP, while teasing cowboys to ride her saddle on "The Lone Ranger" and calling out media prudes on "Dedicated to the Press." She trades her signature deep-throat growl for a sensual whisper on "You and I," co-written by her husband of one year, Miles Davis. Betty turned Miles on to Jimi and Sly (both get a shout-out on the blistering "F.U.N.K.") and was the muse for his most experimental work. Recorded in 1976, Is It Love or Desire was slated for release as Crashin' for Passion before a label dispute led to its shelving. The dirty blues of "Let's Get Personal" finds Betty smoking hash and freaking on the couch while she spreads her, ahem, wings on the devilishly titled "Whorey Angel" and derides pop and disco on "Bottom of the Barrel." The gravelly proto-rap of "Stars Starve, You Know" sums up the visionary's career: "They said if I wanted to make some money I'd have to clean up my act. ... They won't take what I'm giving, so it's hard for me and the band to make a living."
(Is It Love or Desire)