Town and Country Skateboards

BETTY DAVIS NASTY GAL LP

$30
As much as I love the likes of Millie Jackson, Laura Lee, Tina Turner, Betty Wright and others, they simply don't have nothing on Betty Davis ... 

While a number of critics think 1975's "Nasty Gal" was the weakest of Davis' three original studio albums, to my ears this is simply the kind of hardcore soul and funk that will scrape the paint off of your walls and send some sensitive folks running for the doors. Self-produced with Davis writing the majority of the material, If anything, this time around Davis sounded even more pissed off and angry than on the two earlier studio sets. (Under such circumstance I definitely would not want to run into her in a dark alley.) Backed by a crack band, material such as the title track, 'Talkin Trash and 'Dedicated To the Press' managed to underscore Davis' don't-mess-with-me image without the outright trashiness that some of her contemporaries lean on. While her raspy voice and wild child image were simply perfect for this stuff, Davis also got bonus points in that she demonstrates a clear affection for rock and roll. Anyone doubting that statement need only check out something like 'Feelins' and 'Shut Off the Light'. As far as I'm concerned there were only three weak tracks on the album. Co-written by ex-husband Miles Davis (he also provided the horn solo), 'You and I' was a surprisingly bland ballad, while 'F.U.N.K.' was all formula and no content and the closing number 'Lone Ranger' never went anywhere before descending into bad Donna Summer-styled groaning and what sounded like a braying horse. That left you with seven above tracks which sure wasn't bad for an album.

- Built on a funky Fred Mills mini-moog groove, 'Nasty Girl' showcased Davis in full fury ... Lyrically the song was actually kind of clever with Davis and Mills engaging in a two way argument. Wanna take a guess as to who won this one? With a razor blade edge to her delivery, Davis truly sounded psychotic on this one. Great opening tune. rating: **** stars
- Yeah, you probably figured out that lyrically 'Talkin Trash' wasn't going to win any literary awards for Davis. Still, pity keyboardist/singer Mills having to try to keep up with Davis on this funky, vamping number. Davis simply ate Mills alive - easy to see his head flying off ... rating: *** stars
- Opening up with some wonderful Larry Johnson finger popping bass, 'Dedicated To the Press' was a no-holds-barred assault on the fourth estate. Guess Davis wasn't very happy with some of the articles being written about her behavior ... "just don't seem to be able to keep my tongue in my mouth folks ..." rating: **** stars
- Perhaps inspired by former husband Miles Davis ("oh you are a strange one ..."), who also provided musical direction and the horn solo, 'You and I' was a rather conventional ballad. Almost jarring in its conventionality (especially after the previous three performances), the song was interesting for demonstrating the fact Davis actually had a pretty voice and (if necessary), could easily have matched Diana Ross in the sensitivity sweepstakes. rating: ** stars
- Side one's toughest performance, 'Feelins' is best described as an aural stew that mixed a hard rock edge with dollops of angry young women (look out Alanis Morissette) and rioting soccer fans. Simply killer track. rating: **** stars
- I've always loved the guitar section that opened up 'F.U.N.K." and have to admit that Davis' Cruella Da Vil inspired vocal was a hoot. Unfortunately after a couple of minutes her funk and soul hall of fame roll call became dull and forgettable. rating: ** stars
- All hyperbole aside, the slinky 'Gettin Kicked Off, Havin Fun' found David trotting out her sexiest Lolita voice. Plus there were a great set of lyrics on this one. rating: **** stars
- 'Shut Off the Light' found David diving back into full throttle funk Kicked along by her deepest, most in-your-face vocals, George Clinton and Sly Stone had nothing on Davis when she was working in this mode. That probably goes a long way to explaining why the song was tapped as a single. rating: *** stars
- More hardcore funk full of bass, scratchy guitar and burbling ARP synthesizers 'This Is It!' was propulsive enough, but came off as very perfunctory with Davis simply repeating 'this is it' over and over. rating: ** stars
- Written by Davis and her backing band, 'The Lone Ranger' found Davis slowing thing down. Starting off as a slinky ballad with the kind of nod-nod-wink-wink lyrics that recalled Millie Jackson at her best, the last section of the song descended into seemingly endless Donna Summer-styled aural orgasms, though I have to admit the Lone Ranger sound effects at the end were funny. rating: *** stars

The LP spun off a pair of US singles:

- 1975's 'Shut Off the Light" b/w 'He was a Big Freak' (Island catalog number IS 024)
- 1975's 'Talkin Trash' b/w 'You and I' (Island catalog number IS 050)

Throughout the UK and most of Europe there was a different selection for the sophomore 45:
- 1975's 'Dedicated To the Press' b/w 'The Lone Ranger' (Island catalog number WIP 26284)

Thirty years later the Vampisoul reissue label also released a single from LP:
- 2005's ''F.U.N.K.' b/w 'This Is It' (Vampisoul catalog number 45021)

Great LP and a good place to start checkin' out Ms. Davis' catalog,

"Nasty Gal" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Nasty Gal (Betty Davis) - 4:35
2.) Talkin Trash (Betty Davis) - 4:40
3.) Dedicated To the Press (Betty Davis - Larry Johnson) - 3:40
4.) You and I (Betty Davis - Mile Davis) - 2:45
5.) Feelins (Betty Davis) - 2:42

(side 2)
1.) F.U.N.K. (Betty Davis) - 4:20
2.) Gettin Kicked Off, Havin Fun (Betty Davis) - 3:07
3.) Shut Off the Light (Betty Davis) - 3:53
4.) This Is It! (Betty Davis - Larry Johnson - Frank Mills - Carlos Morales - Nick Neals) - 3:25
5.) The Lone Ranger (Betty Davis) - 6:08

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