A Little Funk, A Little Church and One Killer Cut | WSAU News / Talk 550 AM99.9 FM
We continue our return to the music of 50 years ago ……
If you had turned on your solid-state radio at the end of 1971… you might have heard some otherworldly sound in its funky character. The song was Billy Preston’s Outa-Space. God, was that groovy, and I immediately headed over to Bob’s Musical Isle… I stuck my 50 cents in the vending machine and pulled out 4 minutes of greatness.
It came from his debut album “I Wrote A Simple Song” and was actually the reverse of the title song on 45, but DJs preferred the instrumental and played it instead … back in the days when the instrumental could become hits on the radio.
The killer sound came from Preston playing his clavinet through a wah-wah pedal and he and the band (including George Harrison on guitar) did it in one take. Why was George Harrison playing on the record?
Well, Beatles fans know that Preston became the unofficial “5th Beatle” at the end of the band and contributed his keyboard magic to the White Album, Abbey Road and Let It Be…
Especially on “Get Back” …
Here’s what I believe to be the greatest instrumental of all time (okay Frankenstein could get some votes). Put it on right away… I guarantee you a smile!
The rest of the LP ranges from the funkness of “Should Have Known Better” and “You Done Got Older” … to the soulful Ray Charles of “Without A Song” … to the simplicity of the title track. And then there was the gospel flavor that was still part of Preston’s recorded production. Like Charles and others before him, he takes you to church with “Swing Low Sweet Chariot,” God Is Great “and” My Country Tis Of Thee “, the latter of which was a risk the same year we got. “Whats Goin On” by Marvin Gaye. It becomes topical with “The Bus” showing that social issues are not going to be ignored.
It’s a solid start from a young but veteran player who would have been solid even without That Song… but Outa-Space took it to hyperdrive. Get Down… Get Funky… Get Happy!