Monumentally sleazy ’70s funk, unearthed and still unhinged


In her early ’70s heyday, Betty Davis set the standard for future funk broads with strong come-ons that would scare most modern wanna-humps back to the Stone Age. On these excellent reissues of her
best records, every word hisses and slithers out of the former Mrs. Miles Davis’s chompers like a cobra ready to strike, while her uber-afroed, 17-inch bell-bottom funk backing band has a go at fuzzed-out glam stomp. Songs like “Don’t Call Her No Tramp,” “He Was a Big Freak,” and “If I’m in Luck I Might Get Picked Up” prowl out of the speakers so violently you might as well start looking for the baby powder now.

Like any freak, Betty takes some post-coital cig breaks (“In the Meantime,” “I Will Take That Ride”). But for the most part these reissues focus on wah-wah guitar, shuffling snares, and catty back-up gals curling around Betty’s snotty come-slither. Her relative obscurity now is regrettable, but her haunch has hovered ever since over Rick James, Prince, OutKast, the Bellrays, Amy Winehouse, and more to come.