Album review: Billy Preston, That’s the Way God Planned It

Posted: February 16, 2011 in Album Reviews, Beatles

As a lifelong Beatles fan, I’m interested in any Beatle-related project. Recently (and I’ve reviewed several of the releases here), I’ve purchased several great releases from the Beatles’ Apple label. Many of these albums had direct involvement from individual Beatles (and in some cases, multiple Beatles).
The latest album up for discussion is one of the two recorded for Apple by funk and soul master/piano ace Billy Preston.
That’s the Way God Planned It was released in 1969 and was produced by George Harrison. George also plays guitar throughout the record along with buddy Eric Clapton. If that wasn’t enough for star power, Keith Richards turns up on bass and Cream’s Ginger Baker pounds the skins. A classic rock supergroup indeed, as Preston’s piano/keyboard/organ work is legendary, as he was one of the few people who could say they were prominent contributors on Beatles and Rolling Stones records. Preston also forged a solid solo career in the 1970s with hits like “Will it Go Round in Circles,” “Nothin from Nothin” and “Outta Space.”
Those hits came after his Apple days, which saw his first vocal efforts after years of instrumental-only releases. Preston acquits himself quite nicely as a singer, with a soulful style to go along with his masterful keyboard work.
That’s the Way God Planned It showcases his skills nicely, whether its on rock pieces like “Do What You Want,” gospel on the title track or soulful R&B ballads like “Morning Star.”
It’s a record well worth seeking out if you enjoy kick-ass piano playing, funk, gospel or rock. He covers all the bases here and does it well. And the follow-up Encouraging Words is said to be even better. Haven’t gotten that one yet, but I will certainly be picking it up in the future.

Sod rating: ****

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