I love Betty Davis. Her string of albums in the early to mid ’70s—any of which could have easily been included in this series—are a clinic in funk, and in my estimation, were decades ahead of their time. In fact, that’s why I included this particular album, Davis’ 1975 album, Nasty Gal, in this series. For whatever reason, it was a commercial and critical failure and it caused her to actually retire from music. It was her last album, though the recordings from her post-Nasty Gal sessions would eventually be released in 2009.
If this album were released in the 2010s or even now, it would be considered genre-bending. I can see somebody like Solange covering songs from this album like “You and I,” and hear Brittany Howard basically redoing this entire album in her own image. I don’t even get how this album could be panned, but revisionist history is just that, revisionist. There’s a reason she and her works are very popular nowadays amongst a certain set of artists. Chief among those reasons are that the music is just damn good, speaks to her experiences and the market for that exists like a mug now.
And so is the album cover. I love this album cover. It follows in the vein of her 1973 and 1974 albums—Betty Davis and They Say I’m Different, respectively—in showing how fly and rock- and funk-inspired she was. You have that amazing fro, perfectly coiffed with a whole lot of Black woman pizzazz and sass that jumps right off of the album cover. Fishnet stockings and stilettos make the cypher complete. She looks amazing and bad ass at the same damn time.
To the critics who wrote her off in 1975, you whiffed bad. And that’s dedicated to the press.
You may see what I did there, maybe you don’t. Either way, shouts out to Betty Davis and the funk.