Light In the Attic have outdone themselves again with this latest reissue of what is surely Betty Davis' best and most coveted work. Her iconic voice is transported by the legendary productions of, to name a few, a couple of peeps by the name of Miles Davis, Teo Macero and Herbie Hancock. According to the label, what is special about this release is its pioneering stance on jazz, where across nine songs these greats pretty much already started and finished the free-jazz sound. For the late 1960s, this is some truly special and forward-thinking material; a clear precursor to the mad, improvisational - and often misinterpreted - seminal album by Miles Davis himself, On The Corner. This is mostly unreleased material, and the LP comes with a booklet of interviews and rare photos. Unmissable.
Whatever the reason that Betty Davis' Is It Love or Desire – also known as Crashin' from Passion – remained unreleased until 2009 no longer matters. Davis remembers a personal rift with Island's Chris Blackwell. Studio In the Country manager Jim Bateman (in Bogalusa, LA) claims the studio was never paid and therefore refused to release the masters to Island, etc. It makes no difference, because hearing this album, a ten-song set that was to be.
This was the first real attempt by Columbia to make any comprehensive sense of Miles Davis' colossal output for the label. This set, then, was bound to be controversial no matter how it turned out, but even so, Columbia could have done better with a strictly chronological approach. Instead producer/compiler Jeff Rosen had the cockeyed notion of organizing each of the original five LPs around a single theme.
Betty Davis' second full-length featured a similar set of songs as her debut, though with Davis herself in the production chair and a radically different lineup. The openers, "Shoo-B-Doop and Cop Him" and "He Was a Big Freak," are big, blowsy tunes with stop-start funk rhythms and Davis in her usual persona as the aggressive sexual predator.
Opening with the Head Hunters version of "Watermelon Man" and closing with the electro-embracing crossover hit, "Rockit," Mr. Funk is a semi-random skip across Hancock's Columbia recordings, and it technically spans 1973-1983 (at least going by release dates), rather than the 1972-1988 range printed on its cover.
While at least one track from this album showed up decades ago on an Epic compilation, the remainder of this album has remained in the Columbia archives until Reel Music had it remastered and release. The sound is incredible - even with some of the tracks in mono, This is the result of Steve Alaimo's production at the AGP studios in Memphis, the Memphis Boys backing (see the Ace album for more detail) supported by the Memphis Horns, and Bill Lacey's remastering. This is a stunning album - strong songs, great production and Gwen McCrae in fine voice. The hits - which are certainly evident 40 years later were buried as Columbia was in the midst of moving to its HBS-inspired black music strategy under the leadership of Clive Davis. This is a great addition to any 70s soul library.
This 15-track compilation gathers the best of Chicago soul singer Tyrone Davis' Columbia recordings from 1976 to 1981. Cut after Davis made his career defining soul hits for Dakar in the '60s, he scored a few more chart toppers including the upbeat, disco era tracks "Give it Up, Turn it Loose, "This I Swear," and "Get On Up (Disco)." But it's the lush, Quiet Storm material represented exceptionally well on "In the Mood," "Lets be Closer Together" and "Close to You," (not the Carpenters tune), that finds the vocalist in his true element. This is a good introductory retrospective from this romantic soul master and the perfect companion to 20 Greatest Hits which focuses on his Dakar material.
This four-disc, 97-track collection compiles the highlights of the first major period of Frank Sinatra's solo career, beginning with 1943's "Close To You," and ending with 1952's "Why Try to Change Me Now." Sinatra was the preeminent singing idol of American teenagers (the female ones, at least) during this period, thanks to the dreamily smooth crooning style he exhibits here on "People Will Say We're in Love," "I Should Care," "Embraceable You," and dozens of others. Sometimes the still-callow singer isn't up to the material ("Ol' Man River"), sometimes the material isn't worthy of the singer ("The Hucklebuck"), and Sinatra would certainly go on to greater artistic achievements during his Capitol and Reprise years. Still, this box set is an absolutely essential purchase for any self-respecting Sinatra fan.
Powerhouse singer Mahalia Barnes, one of the most impressive female vocalists to come out of Australia, and her band The Soul Mates have teamed up with American blues-rock guitarist Joe Bonamassa to release an album of Betty Davis covers called Ooh Yea! The Betty Davis Songbook. Scheduled for release on 2/24/15, it explores tracks from Davis sexy, raw funk records of the early 70s. Betty Davis s unique story is still fairly unknown. She married Miles Davis in the late 60s, influencing him with psychedelic rock, and introducing him to Jimi Hendrix…