Billy Preston

Live European Tour

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In the mid-'70s, A&M Records began releasing live albums by many of its key rock artists (Peter Frampton, Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Flying Burrito Brothers, etc.). Billy Preston's, recorded along his 1973 European tour with a band that included Mick Taylor -- moonlighting from the Rolling Stones (from whose lineup he was soon to be liberated) -- might be the most impressive of them all, capturing a funky, soulful, soaring, and overall spellbinding performance that embraced just about every side of his work. Preston's rendition of "Let It Be" is the only one this reviewer has ever heard that could challenge the original on its own ground, and Preston also turns in killer renditions of his own hits "Will It Go Round in Circles" and "That's the Way God Planned It," a gorgeous organ instrumental version of "Amazing Grace," and a scintillating performance of "Let's Go Get Stoned" (where he gives a loving homage to Ray Charles). The obligatory "Space Race" and "Outa-Space" are also present, the latter expanded into an eight-minute jam that leaves it not too recognizable but still a fair amount of fun as a finale. The sound is excellent and the only flaw might be the fact that there's only 40 minutes of music on this disc, which is an excellent addendum to Hip-O Records' Ultimate Collection. As of 2002, Live European Tour has been reissued by A&M's Japanese division in killer sound, and is well worth tracking down.

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