Thursday, January 21, 2010

Cuts for Cooky: Betty Mabry-Davis - They Say I'm Different

Of all the unsung badazzez from my day, I'd have to say Elaine Brown, Ericka Huggins and David Hilliard are at the top of my list. But this list is incomplete without Betty Davis.

A complete unknown to those under 50, I suspect with time she'll be co-opted. It's just a matter of time before Quentin or some other hipster "soundtracks her" in yet another self-conscious, self aware, self-referencing scene.


As for Ms. Davis, those who dug funk know she laid it down head to head with Funkadelic, Sly, Zapp and the best of them. Why she's unknown is one of those mysteries of the cosmos, because she is thoroughly bad. I think she also arranged and produced in addition to her writing and singing, making her a legit quad threat.

Married to Miles for a year - and supposedly influential in Miles' legendary turn toward rock/fusion, with Tribute to Jack Johnson and the better known Bitches Brew (both with a young John McLaughlin) - and thus the "Davis" surname, she's only in her early 60's, but lord knows where she is now, much less if she even has an interest in music.

Make no mistake; this is hard funk and this album kicks out the jams. The arrangements, the mix, the farfisa (?), the wah wah, the funky bass playing, shit, the funkiness.... This, the title joint, displays her knowledge of history, goin' all the way to the root down by the crossroads. That in itself is remarkable for a then young 20 something.

So hipsters and posers please, leave us old boomers something unsullied by your oh so smart britches, and we'll just slink off into the sunset, leaving you to your post-post-post... modern earful!

Damn, she was the nuts!