I was rummaging around iTunes and stumbled upon "Billy Preston's Beatles Salute," a 3-song EP that includes "Sgt. Pepper," "I'm Looking Through You," and--the best of the bunch--George Harrison's "Give Me Love." Preston, of course, made invaluable contributions to the Beatles' final recordings. (Maybe it's an apocryphal story, but John Lennon supposedly once suggested that Preston be named "the fifth Beatle," to which Paul McCartney supposedly replied that it was bad enough with four.)
Missing from iTunes are the two albums that Preston recorded for Apple. Perhaps they're tied up in the same quagmire that has kept the Beatles' catalog from the store. I'm not sure the CDs were ever released in the U.S., but I found a used import copy of Preston's first Apple record (above) at Amoeba. Most of the songs were written by Preston (including the great title track), a few co-written with Apple label mate Doris Troy. (Yes, the singer who performed "Just One Look.") And there's a nice cover of Bob Dylan's "She Belongs to Me."
And among the three bonus tracks is "As I Get Older," a funky instrumental that Preston co-wrote with Sylvester Stewart--yep, Sly Stone! And get this: that track was produced by Ray Charles!! Preston once performed with Charles's band (that's Preston playing organ on "Let's Go Get Stoned"), and during shows Brother Ray reportedly would introduce Billy thus: "Anytime I leave this business I want him to take over what I started."
Unfortunately, Preston only lived a couple years longer than Brother Ray. He died in June, 2006, at the age of 59.