By James Calemine
North Carolina native Betty Davis–former wife of Miles Davis–ranks as a pioneering diva. She took pride in her individuality as well as her songwriting. Ice Cube, Ludacris, and Talib Kweli have all sampled her songs. Carlos Santana once said this of Davis: “She was the first Madonna, but Madonna is more like Marie Osmond compared to Betty Davis. Betty was a real ferocious Black Panther woman. You couldn’t tame Betty Davis.”
Davis’ second album, They Say I’m Different, contains the same moxie as her first release. On this album, she used a wide range of musicians including Jimi Hendrix’s guitarist Buddy Miles. “Shoo-B-Doop and Cop Him” opens the CD with flagrant sexuality. Her voice on “He Was A Big Freak” emanates a wildness you’ll rarely hear.
“Your Mama Wants You Back” renders Betty as vulnerable as she gets. The hedonistic “Don’t Call Her No Tramp” personifies a woman’s liberation. The musicianship on these songs prove amazing. The title track, funk at its finest, emanates a real groove and one hip guitar riff. “Special People” showcases Betty’s honey-coated voice.
This reissue contains five bonus tracks from this session’s songs. They Say I’m Different contains a motherlode of girl power…