This week of Betty Davis love is careening to a startling ten-car pile-up, and the lovely Alex Healy decided to drop in with a second set of reviews. A brief recap: Alex Healy, writer, fashion designer, burgeoning business owner, came in to last week never having heard a lick of the silver-booted sex bomb that is Betty Davis. We shoveled four albums worth of BD goodness on to Alex’s front porch and let her have at it.
Alex, we’re eternally grateful for your witty prose.
If you have the opportunity, I highly suggest befriending the gorgeous people at Light In The Attic. Next thing you know, you’ll be abreast of some sweet music and drinking at The Rusty Barnacle. Betty Davis, hope to see you there some day…
Nasty Gal: Betty Davis
In a time when (cringe) cake farts and food carts are at the zenith of popularity, I wonder, was I meant for this era? Betty Davis’s third album, Nasty Gal released in 1975, is something I can handle. An album certainly related to her first two in sound and lyrical content, but it’s got something else, and someone(s) else. Although I’m wontedly opposed to super groups, Funk House, her handpicked backing band, is pure talent. Album 3 is an album I want to dance to. An album I want to clean my room to. An album to have sex to. An album to forget you slammed your fingers in a door to.
What I wish I knew: Was she friends with Bobby Seale of the Black Panthers. Was she stalked by Cointelpro? Did she support John Sinclair, leader of the White Panther party? Did she partake in an orgy or two at the famed Plato’s Retreat? Did she go on a touring hiatus due to gas shortages? Did she learn to shoot machine guns with Patti Hearst?
Food carts are good, but hot dog comin from dirty water, this Betty Davis album is epic.
Nasty Gal reclaimed.
Is It Love or Desire: Betty Davis
33 years ago maybe your grandmother bought a glorious plaid cape and a darling plum colored bow tie, and then realized it just wasn’t the right time and they were shelved in the pretty little boxes they came in, sitting adjacent to Betty’s fourth album, Is It Love or Desire. There they sat. There they stewed, still carrying the volition of the year they came from. Waiting for 2009, apparently. Back in 1976, Island Records had this album shelved due to the lack of commercial success of Betty’s previous albums. “A good friend once told me, ‘in order for a business to be successful, somebody’s got to get fucked”, written by Fred Mills, a dear friend of Betty’s. It’s sad and surprising that this queen of trysts, this boozing alley cat got skinned in the sick and twisted world that is the music industry. Thus this album turned into a Betty Davis time capsule.
What does a Betty Davis time capsule sound like? It sounds like Davis, and on some songs with the addition of a synthesizer it’s as if you’re at the naughtiest light show being projected onto the Grand Coulee Dam. The dam naughty light show, and she’s still letting you know that “if you can cut it, you can love it.” Her less throaty vocals showcased on “When Romance Says Goodbye” is lilting and somehow sexier, if not a little depressing. Going through a break up? This is the cut for you.
A suit shelving your art, the ugly under belly of the music industry, a high-profile divorce, Betty head high with mo’ money mo’ problems, at least she don’t have to tour for this album.
How do you encapsulate Betty Davis? Seriously, just listen to her albums.