Betty Davis - Nasty Gal

Betty Davis - Nasty Gal

Nasty Gal is the third studio album from Betty Davis, a rasped and yelping mid-seventies explosion of funk, soul and sex.

Creatively as ferocious, jacked and ambitious as anything she ever produced, it is perhaps a funny place for us to focus our Sunday Classic attentions as Nasty Gal was - certainly upon release - a commercial failure for Island Records who subsequently shelved its follow-up. One of the label's biggest fumbles, made even more devastating with a disillusioned Davis abandoning her music career altogether by the end of the decade. But like all important and vital art, it will always find an audience.
Betty Davis
Across her short and vehement career, Betty Davis recorded five studio albums, with her eponymous debut (1973) and subsequent They Say I'm Different (1974) released on the independent Just Sunshine records, before the 1975 Island Records debut Nasty Gal. She rounded off the decade by recording Is It Love or Desire? And Crashin' from Passion, neither of which would appear until the esteemed Light In The Attic records got involved in 2009 and 2023 respectively, bringing the high queen to a new audience and her vital music to a new generation.

Davis was a visionary. Her steaming-hot hybrid of funk, soul and blues was pioneering when the new genre only was just making its way into the mainstream. As writer, arranger and producer of her own albums, her raw and unapologetic sound was as provocative as it was arresting, leaving no question of who was in control in a defiant act of empowerment. Her influence shouldn’t be underestimated either, her ex-husband Miles Davis - for one - had his mind well and truly blown-open by Betty Davis ahead of his landmark Bitches Brew. On the absolutely blazing ‘F.U.N.K.’ that starts Nasty Gal’s second side, she reels off the virtues of her contemporaries (Sly Stone, Stevie Wonder, Tina Turner, Al Green, Ann Peebles, Barry White, Larry Graham, Isaac Hayes, The O'Jays, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, The Funkadelics and Jimi Henrix), none of which would argue with having Betty Davis as their peer. As one of the many asides we could take in fact, Betty was apparently the “voodoo chile” that her friend Jimi Hendrix sang about.
Betty Davis
Davis’ hyper-sexualized persona on the album is just electric, and whether her phenomenal Funk House band are playing it fast or slow, she is truly entrancing. That this absolute gem ever slipped out of the public gaze is simply ridiculous, Nasty Gal is an absolute riot of shrieking, moaning raw power.

Further Reading

* New York Times: Betty Davis Was a Raw Funk Pioneer. [Read More]
* The Wire: She wailed electric. [Read More]

Drift Sunday Classic

• Available on exclusive new vinyl pressings on Pink/Yellow & Metallic Gold colored wax.
• Newly remastered from the original analog tapes by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio.
• Booklet includes liner notes by John Ballon interviewing Betty plus full lyrics
• Released with the full support of the Estate of Betty Davis.


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