Betty Davis was truly ahead of her time. It’s a phrase commonly used to describe her artistic impact between the ’60s and ’70s: a black woman that wrote songs for groups such as The Chambers Brothers and The Commodores, and introduced former husband Miles Davis to the psychedelic sounds of Jimi Hendrix.
Now, a recently-released collection of recordings from a session that Davis fans have debated for years, will surely add to her influential legacy. Light in the Attic has dropped The Columbia Years 1968-1969, which features remastered recordings of songs Davis did with Miles at Columbia’s 52nd Street Studios on May 14 and 20, 1969. Miles and Teo Macero produced the sessions, but what really makes this collection special were the musicians that performed: Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, John McLaughlin, Mitch Mitchell (drummer for the Jimi Hendrix Experience) and many others.
The recordings include covers of Cream and Creedence Clearwater, as well as originals from Davis, many of which were unreleased until now. The Columbia Years 1968-1969 also really helps put into perspective how integral these sessions were to Miles’ infamous Bitches Brew. The sessions came before the release of the game changing jazz album, and are noted as “the true birth of Miles’ jazz-rock explorations.”
The collection was made with Betty’s cooperation so there’s some extras including a new interview; rare photos and historical documents. If you’re a diehard Davis fan you’ll also probably want to get your hands on one of the “solid gold” vinyl copies coming out, too.
Next year we’ll also be getting the long-awaited Nasty Gal: The Many Lives Of Funk Queen Betty Davis, which tells the story of her uncompromising artistry and unexpected disappearance from music. “In the 21st century, as her music continues to be discovered and Betty is cited as a major influence by artists as diverse as Madonna and Prince, Lenny Kravitz and Peaches, the story of this ‘black panther woman’ (Carlos Santana) will finally be told, and the mystery of her fall into oblivion made comprehensible, even to those closest to her, for the very first time,” the film’s website states.
It’s been a long time coming but Davis is finally getting her just due.