Sunday, September 9, 2007

Some free Betty Davis downloads

“He was a biiig freak. I used to beat him with a turquoise chain...”

Ask any funk nerd and he’ll tell ya: Nobody compares to Betty Davis.

She was funkier than Chaka Khan, nastier than “Baby Jean” Kennedy, freakier than Tina Turner. And she wrote all her own songs.

Betty Mabry got the name “Davis” from a one-year marriage to Miles. Betty is credited with turning Miles on to the music of Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone, thus changing the course of jazz history. (Pass the “Bitches Brew,” please.)

That’s all cool, but Betty’s own music made an impact too. All the more so in the Crate-Digging Era. (Ask any hip-hop nerd. He’ll tell ya.)

Four months ago, Seattle’s Light In the Attic Records reissued Betty Davis’s first two albums (plus bonus tracks).

Soon thereafter, three cuts off her 1974 LP, “They Say I’m Different,” became available as FREE MP3s at

Follow this link to grab ’em.

If you want a little taste beforehand, I’m streaming “He Was a Big Freak” on my Vox blog. Click here to listen.


jena6 said...

I was on a Betty Davis kick earlier this year. I couldn't help but think Macy Gray must be a fan of hers.

UBM, you say she's "freakier than Tina Turner," which she is. But, do you think she was influenced by her?

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Good question. I would guess that if there is some influence there, it's pretty minor. We all know Tina set a high standard for stage performance. But I think Betty Davis was about so much more than that.

From the image-making and the songwriting, I would guess that Betty Davis was influenced primarily by the times, by her own wild spirit, and by dudes like Hendrix, more so than by any woman.

But I haven't read any interviews with her, which I should. Must be some floating around on the Web.

"Game is my middle name" redcoat said...

These are welcome and overdue reissues! I was first introduced to Davis as a teenager - her track "This is it" was included on a classic funk compilation issued in the UK. It blew me away.

"This is it" isn't on these two reissues; I think it's on the "Nasty Gal" LP. Believe me when I say it's an absolute barnstormer - the woman sings from her guts. She's almost shouting, spitting out the lyrics, which sounds awful, but it's not.

I found out about these reissues on the Indie music bible,, which raved about them. Shows how widely appreciated Davis is.

Comb & Razor said...


re: Betty Davis interviews, The Sound of Young America did a pretty good one a few months ago.

also, there's the piece that Wax Poetics had earlier in the year, as well as a somewhat short 1970s radio interview that's been floating about (i need to find the link for that one later)

Undercover Black Man said...

C&R: Thanks for pointing me to that podcast!

Comb & Razor said...

ah.... and here is the 1970s interview i was thinking about.

jena6 said...

Good lookin' out, c&r! I listened to the TSOYA interview last night. I was really surprised to learn that Ms. Davis is an introvert and that she didn't do drugs. Right on. She went to the Fashion Inst. of Technology (FIT) too. So did I! (Okay, I dropped out after a week, but still....)

Her one word responses were a little unsettling, though. I mean, I thought she was going to be difficult to interview. But, I got used to it and even chuckled a couple of times. I think the host handled it well.

I enjoyed the music bumpers too. I'm going to check out and perhaps order her reissues.

Comb & Razor said...

yeah, Jesse Thorn told me that was one of the toughest interviews he ever did, and they had to do a helluva lot of editing in order to give it any kind of flow! apparently, she's always been that way, though... very shy and reserved. not at all what ypu'd expect from her performances on stage and record!

it's just kind of hard for me to reconcile this quiet ladt in her 60s with the aggressive amazon who growled in the Cookie Monster voice "HE WAS A BIIIIIG FREAK!!"

jena6 said...

Well, the editing seemed seamless, or perhaps that where the music bumpers came in handy. :-) Again, I think Jesse Thorn handled it very well.