Billy Preston was a gifted Hammond organ player and arguably the greatest side-man of all time. Billy Preston backed up some of the greatest music stars of the 60s and 70s including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Ray Charles, Little Richard and Eric Clapton.
Billy also produced some fantastic solo efforts, which have been sadly overlooked. These are my favourite Billy Preston records
That's The Way God Planned It (Apple)
Billy Preston produced two albums for the Apple label (owned and run by The Beatles). Recorded in January 1969, That's The Way God Planned It was the first of these two Apple outings. The record consists of 12 tracks, mostly written by the man himself or in patnership with the great Doris Troy. There is a cover of Bob Dylan's She Belongs to Me and a sublime version of Morning Star, originally wrfitten by WC Handy/Mack David. Other stand out tracks include Do What You Want, Let Us All Get Together Right Now and the title track.
Musicians appearing on the album include Richie Havens, Ginger Baker, Eric Clapton and Keith Richards. The whole affair was produced by George Harrison.
While the original album is fantastic - the CD reissue has three killer bonus tracks.
Encouraging Words (Apple)
Billy Preston's second release on Apple, Encouraging Words is a more complete and better effort than his first release (if that is possible). The 1970 album once again features mostly Billy Preston penned numbers - each one soulful with heaps of gospel influence. Billy also turns out astounding soul renditions of George Harrison's My Sweet Lord and All Things Must Pass. He also turns out a fine rendition of I've Got A Feeling by Lennon and McCartney. Once again the CD reissue has two killer bonus tracks.
I Wrote A Simple Song(A&M)
Billy Preston's first release on the A&M label from 1971 was arranged by Quincy Jones and does not contain a bad track. For my money this is Billy at his best. The title track along with John Henry, The Bus, Should've Known Better, Swing Down Chariot and Outa-Space are all stand outs.
The Kids & Me (A&M)
This 1974 release is not as complete as the previously mentioned albums but stand out tracks like You Are So Beauttiful and Nothing From Nothing make it hard to resist.