Song Of The Day 5/19/2014: Betty Davis - "Stars Starve, You Know"


Betty Davis was briefly married to Miles Davis in the late '60s. Actually they barely stayed together for a year, but it was a pretty pivotal year. Betty introduced Miles to the contemporary sounds of Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone. Impressed with the range of those rock musicians he came up with Bitches Brew, a direct tribute to his wife. So depending on how you feel about it, you can either partially credit or blame Betty Davis for inspiring the creation of jazz/rock fusion. Personally I have wavered over the years about whether jazz fusion was a good thing, because even though it did give us Weather Report, it also opened the door for people like the Yellowjackets to start plying their wares in hermetically sealed environments. I guess they meant well. Anyway that's besides the point.

After splitting with Miles, Betty launched her own recording and songwriting career. She didn't get a lot of notice when she was actively recording, which is a shame, but kind of understandable: Her records are some of the rawest, nastiest funk music ever made. Raw in every sense: musically hard, lyrically unfiltered and direct, vocally postal. She made four albums, and only three were released while her career was active. The fourth, Is It Love Or Desire, wasn't put out -- in fact, was barely mentioned -- until a few years ago when Light In The Attic snuck it out there. Every creative instinct Betty ever had was pushed to extremities; it's practically avant-garde. I don't know how to describe "Stars Starve, You Know," except it's a spectacular burst of crazy and could be considered a seminal hip hop track, if you wanted to bend the parameters a bit. But mainly it's nuts. Absolute nuts. If Betty was starving she could have fed herself on all the nuts this track is.


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