Betty Davis - Nasty Gal (2xLP)
What does it mean to be an artist ahead of her time—twice in her lifetime? In 1975, despite label support and heavy touring, Island Records’ release of Nasty Gal failed to take off in the way those behind it had hoped; shortly after, Davis receded from the public eye. Now at 72, she is the subject of a recent documentary (Betty - They Say I’m Different opened in Amsterdam in November) and otherwise leads a very private life in Pittsburgh. “I even turned your head around now,” Davis unleashes in the titular song, with characteristic formidable, seductive delivery, in what sounds now like lyric self-fulfilling prophecy.
To listen the record now—when the album shares a name with both a fashion brand inspired by Davis’ provocative, space-age style and a widely reclaimed slur uttered by the president of the United States—is another thing entirely. Nasty Gal is still as revolutionary and unbending as it was in 1975. In another preternaturally self-aware moment, amid the deep grooves of “F.U.N.K.,” Davis willfully seizes her place in the wider canon of funk, soul, and R&B.