Is It Love or Desire cover

Is It Love or Desire

Released

Having reset the musical career of her former husband in the 60s, Davis’s first three LPs of

super hard funk and hyper sensual soul tore up notions of what a female artist was supposed to be in the 1970s – loud, lewd and made entirely on Davis’s own terms. Is It Love Or Desire sunk even deeper into the stew. From the title track’s machine gun grooves and “Bottom Of The Barrel”’s impossibly funky flex, to the dirty country grunt of “Whorey Angel” and “Bar Hoppin’” and an uncharacteristically hushed turn on the rueful “When Romance Says Goodbye,” it should have made Davis a star, but due to a legal dispute with Island Records it was shelved and didn’t see an official release until 2009. Davis went on to make comparatively lacklustre — but perhaps appositely titled — Crashin’ From Passion, itself shelved for 15 years and released in the 90s without her consent. It proved to be Davis’s last album and having retired from music she died in 2022. Listening to Is It Love Or Desire, however, Davis’ trailblazing influence on everyone from Prince, Millie Jackson, Madonna and Rick James to Missy Elliott, Lil’ Kim, Erykah Badu and Janelle Monae is clear.

Chris Catchpole

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