Betty Davis – Is It Love or Desire? (1976)


Release Date: Oct 6, 2009
Recording Date: 1976
Label: Light In The Attic

I have been sitting on this one for a while, waiting until I had something “profound” to say about it. Since that day seems to be adrift in the unforeseeable future, I thought it would just post about it and let you, the listener, decide what is or what is not profound about the “lost album” from Betty Davis. Without doubt, it deserved to be released and not confined to a record companies vault for thirty years (there were never even any bootleg copies that made it out). This is the last stand for Betty Davis and her backing band Funk House. Recorded in the middle of a swamp in Louisiana, the wonderful liner notes narrate the whole story about the making of the record. In the eyes of the musicians involved (although not necessarily in Betty’s judgment, for the careful reader) this was the best album they made and the most creative thing they’d ever been involved with. Some of the critics, like the hacks at AMG, have been agreeing with their promo kits, *cough*, I mean independently-thought-out music reviews…

I am still listening to this album and sizing it up but for me, it is not as good as “They Say I’m Different”, which I think will always reign as Betty at her best for my money. But that isn’t to say this is a disappointment by any means. It just lacks something of the excitement and energy found on her first three albums. I find some of the lyrics a bit dubious, and not in the good way of her first two albums, but I don’t want to piss on anybody’s parade who is rightfully excited to get their hands on an album that has been wondered about for years. And if the wonderful Light In The Attic label had not reissued her earlier albums, sparking a revival of interest in Betty Davis, this one may never have seen the light of day.

Betty Davis – Is It Love Or Desire? (1976) in 320kbs em pee thwee

Betty Davis – Is It Love Or Desire? (1976)in FLAC Lossless Audio

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6 Comments

  1. Thanks for this one flabbergast 🙂 To me, while it holds up to the overall standard of the released albums, there's no memorable "singles" here, i.e. indoividual tracks I'd keep coming back to. Maybe I need a little more time with it. But thanks as always for your work here!

  2. You also resisted the temptation to talk about her old man. Well done, she does deserve a place (maybe a footnote) in the pantheon of popular music on her own merits.
    Blog on.
    Shuggiemac

  3. I'm just diving into the world of Betty Davis, so it's very interesting to come across this lost piece of the puzzle. Very mid-period Funkadelic – I like it! Looks like I'll have to another to the "to buy" list. Thank you for posting!

  4. well, i've listened to betty davis's other records and an interview done more recently. she#s 65 now, a grandma reflectin on work she did in her thirties. this particular record she sounds like a precursoress of macy grey, or late period eartha kitt with a speech defect but lacking decent song material. so it's raucaous and noisy, but where are the good songs? songs about sex are as boring as songs about drinking, songs are about stories, about melodies, rhymes, and nice music. talking about sex being "soooooooo gooood" does not make a 5-minute track worth listening to. so this record lives on the sympathies garnered elsewhere, and i must say, the guys who sing with her there are like the guys pricks on porno pictures — putting me off rather more than making me horny. such a pity, but i'm afraid it will actually be a record that deserved to remain buried. "whorey angel" may describe a reality of life, as does the whole record, and i'm not objecting to it on the grounds of prudery, just on the grounds of art. it isn't. it's just shit.

  5. Songs about sex are amazing- the passion and rhythm reflects the emotions and sensations of the act. Not all songs have to be ballads, good as those are. What's more, a good funk track hews closer to the sensibility of jazz, where a composition is just that, and not necessarily a "song" per se. If your goal is to make passionate music that explores rhythm and sensual textures, you'd be a fool not to look to sex for inspiration. Duke Ellington did it, when he wasn't looking to God. And if you want to make people dance, well, sex is the last and best dance before bed. Let's not denigrate the greatness that is fucking and making love, especially when it's coming from such a fearless female sex enthusiast.

    Anyway, Sir Flabbergast, thanks eternal for this one, and though I'm not sure I dig it as hard as I dig Nasty Gal, I do dig it well. This is, of course, one of the finest blogs there is or ever will be, so thanks too for everything else here, and for your invaluable thoughts.

    FS

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