Asha Puthli: I Dig Love
From Asha Puthli (CBS, 1973)

Asha Puthli: You’ve Been Loud Too Long
From She Loves To Hear the Music (CBS, 1975)

I knew nothing about Puthli the first time I heard her self-titled album but she instantly made an impression. I couldn’t figure out – was she singing jazz? Rock? Soul? Then I realized…who cares? Puthli’s songs were so bizarre yet enticing, somewhere between seduction and infliction, with a dash of camp and some genuine pipes. Her albums – the two I know of – are impossible to categorize. There’s the loopy blues ballad like “I Dig Love,” bubbling up from the surface (actually, now that I think about it, it sounds like a water pipe which might explain why Puthli sounds stoned out of her mind). But she can play it straight too on a funk jammer like “You’ve Been Loud Too Long.” Her voice isn’t pure in the way we think of Aretha but it is absolutely distinctive: like Betty Davis, she owns every song she touches.