Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 126

Betty Davis tears it
up on stage in 1975.

B

etty Mabry was
known far and wide
by the sobriquet of
the Nasty Girl. She earned
the moniker for being too
wild for her men to handle
- and among her men
were Miles Davis (whom
she married in 1968), Jimi
Hendrix, and Sly Stone,
none of whom were
exactly slouches when it
came to wildness.
It was after her marriage to Miles ended
that Davis released her
eponymous debut LP
in '73. Her vocals were
part Aretha, part Janis,
all Betty Davis. And her
band included in-your-face
guitar by Neal Schon and
Doug Rodrigues, powerhouse bass from Larry
Graham and Santana's
Doug Rauch as well as
piano by Merl Saunders,
a horn section, and the
Pointer Sisters on backing
vocals. With rave-ups like
"If I'm In Luck I Might Get
Picked Up" and "Anti-Love
Song," the album was
rock-solid R&B and funk. It
would be followed by two
more albums, plus a fourth
that was not released
until decades later.
Davis had started her
musical career earlier,
cutting a handful of brazen
singles in the mid-'60s.

With Miles' help producing, she then recorded
a number of demos in

Betty Davis

The Columbia Years
1968-1969

Mahalia Barnes and
the Soul Mates with
Joe Bonamassa
Ooh Yeah: The Betty
Davis Songbook

an attempt to get an
album deal, but both
Atlantic and Columbia
(Aretha and Janis' labels,
respectively) passed.
Those demos remained
locked away and were
believed lost. Until now.

VINTAGE GUITAR

126

December 2016

Kris
Kristofferson

The Complete
Monument &
Columbia Albums
Collection
Ne a rly a h a l f
century ago, a longhaired former Army
chopper pilot named Kris Kristofferson was
Nashville's hottest new songwriter. Today,
after decades of success, the 80-year-old
singer/songwriter and actor is a member
of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
This 16-disc collection captures his
recorded sides from 1966 to '92 through
11 Monument and Columbia albums and
five discs of unreleased concerts, demos,
and rarities.
On his albums, Nashville session guitarists were prominent, among them Grady
Martin, Reggie Young, Steve Gibson, Jerry
Kennedy, John Christopher, Jerry Shook,
Chip Young, and Ray Edenton. One superlative example: a delicate (uncredited)
intro to "I'd Rather Be Sorry," from 1974's
Breakaway with then-wife Rita Coolidge.
Studio players aside, Kristofferson's sidemen (guitarist-pianist Billy Swan among
them) were no less impressive. Ex-Lovin'
Spoonful great Zal Yanovsky and Norman
Blake backed him at a 1970 Big Sur Folk
Festival performance. Stephen Bruton was
with him for two 1972 concerts. Gerry
McGee's snarling intro to the cocky "If You
Don't Like Hank Williams" from 1976's
Surreal Thing set a perfect tone.
This stellar collection explores Kristofferson's unique songs and raw vocals, as
well as the gifted guitarists and bassists
who framed them. - RK

Betty Davis photo courtesy of Light in the Attic.

NASTY GIRL

The nine tracks on The
Columbia Years show
Davis honing her style.
She's not the brash nasty
girl that she unveiled on
her '73 debut, but it's
all here in the making.
She does for CCR's
"Born On The Bayou"
what Ike and Tina did
for "Proud Mary," and it
deserves to be a classic. Her originals "Down
Home Girl" and "It's My
Life" should have been hit
singles if only Davis had
had a bit more confidence
to her strut at the time.
The musicianship is
unbelievable, an A-team
as one might only expect
from Davis' associations: John McLaughlin,
Billy Cox, Mitch Mitchell,
Herbie Hancock, Wayne
Shorter, and others add
their charms. Oh yes,
and Miles did some of
the arrangements, along
with Shorter and Hugh
Masekela. Only Jimi
is missing - although
rumors persist that he and
Davis did indeed record
together at some point.
Paying tribute to Davis,
Mahalia Barnes and Joe
Bonamassa do the job
right. They don't step too
far out of the lines in covering 12 tunes, but Barnes'
vocals and Bonamassa's
guitar are up to the task
- and they enjoy themselves thoroughly. Good
stuff. - Michael Dregni

on the songs chosen. Predictably, some are
more faithful to the originals than others.
Wilco (with Bob Weir) fall firmly in this
category ("St. Stephen"). Jim James, Bruce
Hornsby, and Tallest Man on Earth (just a
few examples), also turn in performances
that will earn knowing nods of approval
from Deadheads. Others, like Unknown
Mortal Orchestra, Marijuana Deathsquads,
and Toronto punk rockers F***ed Up, will
leave even the most magnanimous fans
scratching their heads.
It's in the seams between these two ends
of the tie-dye spectrum where this collection is most enjoyable - still-recognizable
reinterpretations by artists like Courtney
Barnett, Charles Bradley, War on Drugs,
and Lucius, stand out. - Dennis Pernu


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open

Contents
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - Cover
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - IFC
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 1
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 2
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 3
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 4
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 5
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 6
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 7
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - Contents
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 9
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Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - IBC
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