Billy Preston

The Way I Am

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The Way I Am Review

by Victor W. Valdivia

By 1981, Billy Preston's critical and commercial peak had long since passed, and his synthesizer-laden funk/soul/rock hybrid was out of vogue. On The Way I Am, Preston attempts to modernize his sound, all while keeping his classic style intact as much as possible. The result is an uncertain mishmash. "Good Life Boogie" is yet another instrumental in the same vein as his biggest hits "Outta Space" and "Space Race," but while it sounds lively and charming enough, it won't make anyone forget the earlier hits, nor will it keep anyone from feeling that Preston is so out of current ideas that he's reduced to cannibalizing older hits for money. Similarly, "Keep on Truckin'" is an energetic, well-performed song, but sounds recycled from earlier material. Unfortunately, Preston's attempts at updating his music, such as the slick production, background singers, and elaborate arrangements on "I Won't Mistreat Your Love" and "Hope," are utterly forgettable. Only the album's ballads "Lay Your Feeling on Me" and the string-laden title cut, find a happy medium between old and new Preston. The Way I Am is a moderately enjoyable listen, but fans should start with Preston's classic mid-'70s albums before picking this up.

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