Betty Davis – They Say I’m Different

betty davis

Betty fucking Davis.

If Chaka Khan is the queen of funk and George Clinton is its Prime Minister, then Betty is the dominatrix in the basement that ballgags them motherfuckers after the sun sets. Each time she hit the stage she owned her sexuality completely. She grunted, growled, moaned, squealed, and bit until it bled. Unfortunately for Betty, she came about two, three, or possibly four decades too soon. The ’70s just weren’t ready for Betty fucking Davis. 

The fact that this name isn’t whispered by millions of drooling and tumescent fans is an insult to everything good about the world. But, let’s be honest here, she also stood in the shadow of a giant, her husband, Miles Davis. Why did this marriage end? Some people, like Miles, said it’s because Betty wanted a taste of that Hendrix pie, so she cut herself a slice. This could totally be true (and probably is) but, according to Betty, that’s not why their marriage ended. “I was so angry with Miles when he wrote that. It was disrespectful to Jimi and to me. Miles and I broke up because of his violent temper.”

Betty posed in photo spreads in magazines like Seventeen, Glamour, and Ebony before meeting Miles at 22. Of course, Miles thought he was top dog but he had never met Betty. After their divorce, Betty and Miles were still friends. Hell, Miles and Hendrix even planned on releasing an album together before he died. One famous day, Miles talked to Betty about this album he wanted to make called Witches Brew. But, guess what, my audiophiliac motherfuckers, Betty changed that shit. She put the bitch in Bitches Brew.

It was difficult to choose between this album and Betty’s next album Nasty Gal. Both of these are fantastic with their rich, raw, and real depiction of sexuality. But there’s an ease to this album that doesn’t occur as often in Nasty Gal. I can feel Betty kick back in that velvet throne of hers as she swirls some rare liquor in a gem-laden chalice and her crown of funk sits just off-centre. She doesn’t need to scream and shout, she wants to. Betty spoke on behalf of all female sexuality way the fuck back when it wasn’t a big deal. “I kissed a girl and liked it”? Please. How about, “I’d get him off with my turquoise chain.” Betty was nasty and loved it. Her message was pure and the train it rode in on was funk. It didn’t take balls to make this album. It took the engorged, thick, and persistent nerve of a young black woman in the early ’70s owning her shit and screaming it out with a raspy grunt, a pelvic thrust, and a slow lick of the lips to make this album. Come have a taste. 




3 thoughts on “Betty Davis – They Say I’m Different

  1. Now this is the shit. I always preferred her first album, being as I had burnt out on Sly’s ‘Riot’ and this sounded to gritty to me. Never got to Nasty Girl, I think, though I sampled some of the Columbia Years comp, and unsuccessfully tried to track down the stuff she recorded with Herbie. I might rectify all that in the near future, cheers for the reminder (and to get rid of the backlog, all the reminders and recommendations I got from following you last year, Herbie prominent among them)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. If you dig into the album Betty Davis “The Columbia Years 1968-1969” you’ll find drummer Mitch Mitchell (Jimi Hendrix Experience), John McLaughlin, Harvey Brooks, Billy Cox (Band of Gypses), Wayne Shorter, Larry Young, and Herbie to the fucking Hancock. This album was FINALLY released about 3 years back and it’s one hell of a fucking listen. I think this is what you mean by the Columbia Years comp. but I’ve never heard of another album outside of this that has those recordings of that mythical May 14th and 20th, 1969. Fuck, I love Sly. I heard that a film might get made this year all about Sly Stone’s last decade of homelessness and his finally getting 5 mil in around 2015. Dude has gone through the shit! Loving these comments. Keep them coming.


  3. I wasn’t aware of the lineup on the Columbia years, but jesus that is an astonishing group – I think I’d (mistakenly) written it off as just early recordings, but that lineup would warp the fucking landscape of music in the next couple years, huh? What I was thinking of was actually another mixup (from Wikipedia): “her unreleased fourth studio album recorded in 1976, re-titled as Is It Love or Desire?…considered possibly to be her best work by many members of her last band (Herbie Hancock, Chuck Rainey, Alphonse Mouzon) [this is what I wanted to find]. After some final recording sessions in 1979 (Crashin’ from Passion), Davis eventually stopped making music…material from the 1979 recording sessions was eventually used for two bootleg albums, Crashin’ from Passion (1995) and Hangin’ Out in Hollywood (1996) [this is what I was actually looking for].” For such as small albumography, she’s got a fuckton of juicy recordings outside of it!
    Yeah, Sly’s had it tough. He pops up in people’s stories a lot though – in an interview with D’angelo, around ‘Black Messiah’ era, he said he’d met up with Sly, and had been privvy to a bunch of absolutely astonishing experiments with autotune. Then there were those clips from Sly’s privately-recorded tapes which surfaced on Soundcloud… that film would, honestly, be illuminating a vast, mysterious shadow in the world of music.


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