11 Songs, 39 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Though he's mostly remembered as a keyboard sideman (The Beatles, Sam Cooke, etc.), Billy Preston’s overlooked musical gift was how he inhabited his own songs, vocally, musically, and spiritually. He was like Stevie Wonder in that way. This perfectly paced set collects Preston’s best, from the ubiquitous “You Are So Beautiful” (popularized by Joe Cocker) to the Sly Stone–esque “Will It Go Round in Circles” to the Afro-popping instrumental “Outa-Space” (dig the clavinet and wah-wah) to the No. 1 pop smash “Nothing from Nothing.” Even the funk-chugging “Space Race” and “Struttin’”—and the beautiful “I Wrote a Simple Song”—reveal the gospel in Preston’s soul.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Though he's mostly remembered as a keyboard sideman (The Beatles, Sam Cooke, etc.), Billy Preston’s overlooked musical gift was how he inhabited his own songs, vocally, musically, and spiritually. He was like Stevie Wonder in that way. This perfectly paced set collects Preston’s best, from the ubiquitous “You Are So Beautiful” (popularized by Joe Cocker) to the Sly Stone–esque “Will It Go Round in Circles” to the Afro-popping instrumental “Outa-Space” (dig the clavinet and wah-wah) to the No. 1 pop smash “Nothing from Nothing.” Even the funk-chugging “Space Race” and “Struttin’”—and the beautiful “I Wrote a Simple Song”—reveal the gospel in Preston’s soul.

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Ratings and Reviews

4.4 out of 5
32 Ratings
32 Ratings
MacDaffy ,

Simply The Best

Billy Preston ruled popular music during the early-to-mid-Seventies. His infectious combination of gospel music and rock and roll DARED you to sit still. The proof of the pudding is in the up-tempo cuts from this album. Young musicians--especially keyboard players--are encouraged to get these song into their iPods and try to keep up; you'll be better for it.

Joe Green, Bruce Fisher, and Robert Sam are among the musicians who co-wrote some of the hits on these albums, but Billy's passion and technique are what make them work. My personal favorite is "You're So Unique." It's from his "Everybody Likes Some Kind Of Music" album. After the eponymous introductory song, "You're So Unique" bursts into your ears and doesn't let go. The vocals are raw, primal, and un-self-conscious. It's relentless.

"Will It Go 'Round In Circles" and "Nothing From Nothing" are bona fide giants but they're not easy to play. For those who listen, they're pure joy. For those who play, they take time to become a joy to play.

By far, the most frequent musical argument I get is "who wrote "You Are So Beautiful." I always win. Joe Cocker's version has its merits, but listen to Billy's. The schmaltz is almost unbearable at the beginning and the rendition reeks of cheese a little, but Billy delivers at the end. The music and his voice and the total effect far outstrip Cocker's version.

Get this album. When you're having a bad morning, put it on and let it heal you. This music is all about freedom and excellence. Use it.

sonyfanboy ,

Awsome songs

Billy Preston makes songs with soul and a reason. He is a great artist in his voice and piano. It's sad that he died but, his songs live on. R.I.P Billy Preston

GingyGingy ,

Billy Preston...

R.I.P. Billy Preston. He will be missed.

About Billy Preston

It's advantageous to get an early start on your chosen career, but Billy Preston took the concept to extremes. By age ten he was playing keyboards with gospel diva Mahalia Jackson, and two years later, in 1958, he was featured in Hollywood's film bio of W.C. Handy, St. Louis Blues, as young Handy himself. Preston was a prodigy on organ and piano, recording during the early '60s for Vee-Jay and touring with Little Richard. He was a loose-limbed regular on the mid-'60s ABC TV series Shindig, proving his talent as both a vocalist and pianist, and he built an enviable reputation as a session musician, even backing the Beatles on their Let It Be album. That impressive Beatles connection led to Preston's big break as a solo artist with his own Apple album, but it was his early-'70s soul smashes "Outa-Space" and the high-flying vocal "Will It Go Round in Circles" for A&M that put Preston on the permanent musical map. Sporting a humongous Afro and an omnipresent gap-toothed grin, Preston showed that his enduring gospel roots were never far removed from his joyous approach. He continued to perform and record throughout the '80s, '90s, and 2000s, until he fell into a coma caused by pericarditis late in 2005; sadly, he never regained consciousness and passed away on June 6, 2006.

~ Bill Dahl

HOMETOWN
Houston, TX
BORN
September 2, 1946

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