Music: Nasty Gal; Is It Love or Desire

The reissue of two albums by funky ’70s siren Betty Davis.

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Funky siren Betty Davis should have been a ’70s superstar: She projected an aggressively sexual persona that made Tina Turner seem timid and set the stage for Prince. The reissue of Nasty Gal, first released in ’75, features the romantic ballad “You and I,” written with her ex-husband, jazz immortal Miles Davis. (Although the two were only married for a year, Betty had a lasting impact on Miles—she introduced him to Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone.) Recorded in ’76, the previously unreleased Is It Love or Desire finds Davis mixing raunchy jams like “Whorey Angel” with the surprisingly tender “When Romance Says Goodbye.” Alas, conflicts with her record company kept the LP out of stores until now, and for unknown reasons Davis hasn’t released another album since, though she did contribute her insights to the extensive liner notes.

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