MUSIC ARCHIVES

Monumentally sleazy ’70s funk, unearthed and still unhinged

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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.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 15, 2007

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