Thursday, 28 October 2010

"That's The Way God Planned It" by BILLY PRESTON (2010 Apple 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"…Don't Put Off Tomorrow…What You Can Do Today…"

Having played on the “Let It Be” album, become the only other named artist on a Beatles 7” single (“Get Back”) and done the rooftop concert with The Fabs - Billy Preston’s signing to their Apple Records label was something of a foregone conclusion. But what pleases now in 2015 (all those decades later) is that his two albums on their corporate record company were both underrated corkers - right up their with the majors offerings of the time (and featured a host of big league guests and songs associated with the Beatles Solo catalogue).

Monday 25 October 2010 saw 14 of the Apple Label albums remastered and reissued alongside "Come And Get It" - a first-time-ever label Best Of compilation. This reissue for Preston’s debut on Apple is one of them. "That's The Way God Planned It" was the first of two outings for long-time friend and sometimes collaborator with The Beatles - American keyboardist and Soul Singer Billy Preston. And along with its superb 1970 follow up LP "Encouraging Words" - it's one of the labels better offerings. Here are the Heavenly details…

UK released 25 October 2010 - "That's The Way God Planned It" by BILLY PRESTON on Apple/EMI 5099990824128 (Barcode 5099990824128) is an 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster with Four Bonus Tracks and plays out as follows (53:52 minutes):

1. Do What You Want
2. I Want To Thank You
3. Everything’s Alright
4. She Belongs To Me
5. It Doesn’t Matter
6. Morning Star
7. Hey Brother
8. What About You
9. Let Us Get Together Right Now
10. This Is It
11. Keep It To Yourself
12. That’s The Way God Planned It (Parts 1 & 2)
Tracks 1 to 12 are the LP "That's The Way God Planned It" released 22 August 1969 in the UK on Apple SAPCOR 9 (Stereo only) and on Apple/Capitol ST-3359 in the USA.

13. Through All Times
14. As I Get Older
15. That’s The Way God Planned It (Alternate Version)
16. Something’s Got To Change [Previously Unreleased]
Tracks 13 to 15 are the 3 bonus tracks given with the 1991 reissue. The writer of "Through All Times" is unknown, "As I Get Older" is an instrumental co-written with Sylvester Sly Stone Stewart and produced by Ray Charles - while Eric Clapton plays guitar on the Alternate Version of the “That’s The Way God Planned It”. Track 16 is a new bonus track for this 2010 issue - the previously unreleased fully formed song - a cover of “Something's Got To Change” by Johnny Johnson and The Bandwagon

Two UK singles came off the album with one non-album 7" that followed: 
1. "That's The Way God Planned It" b/w "What About You"
(Released 25 June 1969 in the UK on Apple APPLE 12 - it reached number 11 in July 1969 on the UK pop charts)
2. "Everything's All Right" b/w "I Want To Thank You"
(Released 17 October 1969 in the UK on Apple APPLE 19)
3. "All That I Got (I'm Gonna Give It To You)" b/w "As I Get Older"
(Released 30 January 1970 in the UK on Apple APPLE 21 - the A-side is on the "Encouraging Words" reissue as a bonus (Track 15), the B-side is Track 14 on here; both songs were non-album at the time of release)

Noted writer and music lover ANDY DAVIS does the new liner notes for the disappointingly weedy 12-page booklet (EMI pushes the boat out again people). But with what little text he has been afforded, Davis does at least fill it with properly informative details - and it's peppered with some very tasty colour photos of Harrison and Preston in the studio. Derek Taylor's original LP sleeve notes are taken off the back cover artwork and placed inside the inner gatefold of the card - the collage of 6 black and white photos on the rear sleeve stay on the back.

The cast of musicians involved is impressive - KEITH RICHARDS on Bass, GINGER BAKER on Drums, ERIC CLAPTON and GEORGE HARRISON on Guitars with both MADELINE BELL and DORIS TROY providing beautiful soulful backing vocals (Doris Troy was in fact signed to the label on the strength of her work here). George Harrison handled all Producing except "Hey Brother" and Keep It To Yourself", which along with the B-side "Through All Times" were done by Wayne Schuler.

Six of the 12 are Billy Preston originals with "Hey Brother" (a derivative of "Hey Joe") being co-written with Jesse Kirkland. Three others are co-writes too, this time with soon-to-be label mate Doris Troy - "Everything's All Right", "This Is It" and "Let Us All Get Together Right Now". Which leaves two cover versions - Bob Dylan's "She Belongs To Me" and "Morning Star" by American Blues founder father W.C. Handy. Unlike some of the other Apple issues, there are no extra tracks via download. But the really big news is the sound...

The same team that handled the much-praised 09/09/09 Beatles remasters has done this - GUY MASSEY, STEVE ROOKES, PHIL HICKS and SIMON GIBSON. I always though the initial 1991 reissue was dull-as-dishwater soundwise - well not so now because the audio quality here is BEAUTIFUL - a massive improvement. The kick off the drums and vocals is fantastic - the piano intro on "Let Us All Get Together Right Now" is stunning (lyrics above). It makes you reassess a lot of the songs and appreciate more Harrison's excellent production contributions.

Highlights for me include the wonderfully uptempo "I Want To Thank You" which feels like it stepped right out of a 1968 Northern Soul session - and the almost Aretha Franklin gospel vibe of "Let's Us All Get Together Right Now". The irresistible dancer beat and cautionary lyrics about keeping your trap shut when it comes to matters of love in "Keep It To Yourself" are so Motown - great stuff. But the best is kept until last. While the initial 3 bonus tracks are ok - not so the newly found "Something's Got To Change" - it's shockingly good. The closest approximation would be "I Want To Thank You" - the new song is a brass-laden dancer with male backing vocals - and it's that rarest of things, a genuine must-have bonus track.

Niggles - the gatefold card sleeve is nice to look at for sure, but the booklet and overall packaging feel lightweight (what EMI could get away with). The CD should have one of those gauze inner bags to protect it - a problem that no record company that issues these card sleeves seems to want to acknowledge (scuffing and damage). And like so many of the LPs on this erratic vanity label - it's a good record rather than a great one.

To sum up - fans will love it, while skeptics may have to rethink this underrated LP and artist. Recommended - especially given the massive improvement in sound quality and that great bonus track…

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