Friday, 10 March 2017

"Betty Davis" by BETTY DAVIS (May 2007 Light In The Attic Records 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"…Game Is My Middle Name…"

Back in the day - singing icon (and one-time wife of jazz trumpeter Miles) Betty Davis had more hard-on gumption in her painted toenails than any of today’s saccharine X-Factor wannabies could ever dream of - and her notorious take-no-prisoners 1973 self-titled debut album only hammers that home with a musical mallet. Real honesty is often shocking and our Betty knew how to shock - “I sat wiggling my fanny…” she fearlessly sang in the opening song. But were not talking about cheap theatrics here or sexual antics for the sake of it. Betty did her thing with conviction and a wickedly acidic sense of humour that didn’t annihilate either men or women but understood the body versus mind weaknesses of both. Any woman who pens a song as provocative and downright brutal as “Anti Love Song” demands our attention. Here are the fireball and ladylike details…

USA released May 2007 – "Betty Davis" by BETTY DAVIS is on Light In The Attic Records LITA 026 (Barcode 826853002622) is an 'Expanded CD Remaster' and plays out as follows (43:48 minutes):

1. If I’m In Luck I Might Get Picked Up
2. Walkin’ Up The Road
3. Anti Love Song
4. Your Man My Man
5. Ooh Yea [Side 2]
6. Steppin In Her I. Miller Shoes
7. Game Is My Middle Name
8. In The Meantime
Tracks 1 to 8 are the album "Betty Davis" – released September 1973 in the USA on Just Sunshine Records JSS-5

9. Come Take Me
10. You Won’t See Me In The Morning
11. I Will Take That Ride
Previously Unreleased Tracks recorded 1974

The audio and the packaging (as it with all LITA reissues) are both fabulous. The mightily impressive booklet is 30-pages plus thick with brilliant OLIVER WANG liner notes featuring interviews with the elusive lady (she sanctioned the release of this and the follow up album “They Say I’m Different”). There are great publicity pictures, adverts, personal memorabilia and best of all - remasters from original tapes that literally challenge your stereo to a duel. This thing Rocks – it’s not loud for the sake of it – there is hiss occasionally – but the overall feeling you get is the presence of the real tapes in the hands of people who took care with the transfers. The audio here is wonderful and makes such a massive difference to the sheer visceral impact of her Punk-Funk music…

The second the vicious guitar-funk of “If In Luck I Might Just Get Picked Up” hits your speakers it sounds like Ike Turner has found the most unabashed hussy to front his band – and even as serial womanizers – the band themselves are terrified of her appetites. This is hard-edged, sexy funk and as Betty moans “take me home” towards the end of the song – you know she isn’t suggesting you join her in a crochet class. The nasty guitar-groove continues with “Walkin’ Up The Road” while “Anti Love Song” features the stunning lyrics like “because you know I could possess your body too…you know I could make you crawl…and just hard as I’d fall for you boy…you’d fall for me harder…and that’s why I ain’t gonna Love you…”

At this point we should mention the band and especially the guitarists who add so much to the downright dirty grooves – “If I’m In Luck I Might Get Picked” “Anti Love Song”, “Your Man My Man” and “In The Meantime feature DOUG RODRIGUES on the axe - while NEAL SCHON (later with JOURNEY) bolsters up “Walkin’ Up The Road”, “Anti Love Song”, “Ooh Yea” and “Steppin In Her I. Miller Shoes”. Coupled with LARRY GRAHAM (of Graham Central Station) and DOUG RAUCH (Santana) on Bass and GREG ERRICO (Sly and The Family Stone) on Drums – these guys had Funk and Fusion in their veins. When you get to the stop-start manic funk of “Ooh Yea” the band are literally on fire – like The Meters amped up to 13 on a dial of 12. 

SYLVESTER and THE POINTER SISTERS lend their backing vocals to the bad “Stepping In Her I. Miller Shoes” with Schon letting the guitar Rock roar when Betty stops tearing strips of some fancy-dresser. It ends on the surprisingly mellow “In The Meantime” where she pleads “tonight how I wish I had someone beside me…” while the big organ sound makes Sly’s backing band sound not unlike the Faces circa “Ooh La La”.

The unreleased stuff is more of the same – “don’t hurt me!” she growls at the opening of “Come Take Me” – when its us mere mortal men that would be afraid of her and not the other way around. Guitar-Funk returns with "You Won't See Me In The Morning" where pint-sized Betty warns "You better heed my warning..." as a wicked clavinet backing unpins the whole affair. And again the remaster is truly fantastic...

Her next album in 1974 was called “They Say I’m Different” and the 1975 LP after that called “Nasty Girl”. Betty Davis folks – accept no substitute...

PS: LITA reissued a VINYL LP version of the album in April 2008 too…

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