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On Buddy Preston and Billy Miles

In a comment to this post, AWM helpfully reminded me of something I already knew:

That’s Billy Preston, not Buddy Miles. I know, they all look alike…..

To which I responded with this:

Heh. Yeah, I was just kidding around with that one, hence the big buildup before the vid. I’d just been listening to some Buddy Miles earlier, and the strong physical resemblance between the two–especially the classic 60s/70s Nee-grow coifs and cool threads, duuuuude–kinda struck me as funny. No racial slurs or anything intended (this time–AHEM), they’re both fine musicians and I love their stuff, which in the end is all that matters to me.

My thanks to AWM, whose good intentions provided me with an unassailable excuse to repost this:

Man, ain’t never the wrong time to rock out on that fat, butt-rocking-good groove, if you ask me. One of the very best rock ‘n’ soul/jazz/R&B crossover hits the era ever gave us, in my opinion.

Them Changes is an album by American artist Buddy Miles, released in June 1970. It reached number 8 on the 1970 Jazz Albums chart, number 35 on the Billboard 200 and number 14 on the 1971 R&B albums charts.

Writing for Allmusic, music critic Steve Kurutz called the album “quite simply, one of the great lost treasures of soul inspired rock music…definitely worth the extra effort to try to locate.” Conversely, Robert Christgau wrote “His singing is too thin to carry two consecutive cuts, his drumming has to be exploited by subtler musicians, and the title cut is the only decent song he ever wrote.”

Yeah, well, y’know, Robert fucking Christgau. He always was a consummate bitch-ass little prick, according to all I’ve heard from people in a position to know firsthand. Now the NYT’s longtime lead music crit, Jon Pareles, on the other hand…

Pareles BPs

A-HENH! That blurb was just one of the first of quite a few favorable reviews Parales went on to bestow on us, from which you can easily discern that here was a man who knew what the fuck he was talking about.

Anyway, to press ”ESC” on the self-congratulory digression and get back on-topic: It just kills me how, given the way classic-rock stations keep spinning the same well-worn old tunes over and over and over—many of which I do love, mind, but I mean really now, COME ON!—somehow you never, ever hear this one. It’s as if programmers, DJs, and/or station managers are completely unaware that these great artists actually recorded and released a helluva lot more material than just the five or six all-too-familiar songs they’ve boiled entire careers’ worth of output down to and are even now running into the fucking ground. I just don’t get it, I really don’t.

Update! What the hey, one golden musical memory from my childhood deserves another, right?

Buddy Miles, as I’m sure y’all know, filled the pounding-skins slot for Jimi Hendrix (among other notables) for a goodish while there. Preston, for his part, worked the 88s for pretty much everybody who was anybody in the classic-rock days. Wrote or co-wrote a fair few hit songs recorded by other artists, too; pretty much anyplace you looked on the Billboard Hot 100 in the late 60s/early 70s, there ol’ Billy Preston would be. God bless ‘em both, sayeth I.


9 thoughts on “On Buddy Preston and Billy Miles

    1. Here’s a blast from the past anybody of a certain age who grew up around here will remember: 610 on your AM dial, Charlotte’s Big WAYS radio! They played all the good stuff back in the day, and had a most excellent morning drive-time jock, name of Bob Murphy, with his Murphy In The Morning show. Everybody but EVERYBODY was tuned in to the big ol’ hairy Big-WAYS back then, all day every day–DON’T TOUCH THAT DIAL!! It was can’t-miss listening.

      Another place I got turned on to some really good old music was, oddly enough, the Myrtle Beach Pavilion amusement park. The Himalaya, the Swiss Bobs, the Octopus, the Rainbow–these rides were a young ‘un’s delight, most of them equipped with their own PA system over which blasted CCR’s “Sweet Hitchhiker,” “Magic Carpet Ride” by Steppenwolf, Mountain’s “Mississippi Queen,” and Badfinger’s haunting and immortal “Baby Blue,” along with tons of other amazing songs you just didn’t hear a whole lot of anywhere else.

      I remember hearing “Sweet Hitchhiker” on the Himalaya and being smitten by the spellbinding magic of this example of rock and roll wizardry beyond any hope of recovery or reform. Not knowing who had done it, I then spent several frustrating years on the hunt without any luck. I called local radio jocks; asked around at music stores; asked the kinda-scary carny seedster who ran the Himalaya that summer; even went so far as to subject myself to the humiliating scorn and derision of my older cousin and his too-cool teenaged crew by asking them if they knew who that damned song was by.

      Alas, no joy in Mudville, this night nor any other. Trust me, I tried. I tried HARD.

      And then, finally–FINALLY!–fickle, capricious Fate smiled upon me and I got clued that the deeply-embedded earwig which had been tormenting me all this time was a Creedence song. Whereupon I went whizzing like a Sabre jet down to Uncle Gene’s drugstore to have him order me a copy of the album, my first-ever CCR LP.

      And that was it, I was forever after lost. The rock and roll hook had been well and truly set–a barbed spike to the main vein that no poor little fishy has ever been known to wriggle completely off of.

      I ain’t ever looked back, not even once. Good times, good fun, good memories.

      1. Oh yea, I remember 610am even though I didn’t grow up here. Well kinda, since I ain’t full growed up yet and have spent the last 33 here. I would often listen when I was in the area.
        As a pre-teen I lived where I was born, Greensboro, and we listened to WCOG 1320am. I will always recall that station because it’s when I first learned how to design an antenna tuned to a particular frequency. Someone living close to the broadcast tower had their reception overwhelmed by WCOG and my dad built them an antenna tuned to receive their favorite station a little better. At Carolina I would build an antenna to pick up a long forgotten jazz station that I liked.
        IIRC, WCOG still plays the old classics that were yet to be classic when I was listening.
        The band I remember most on WCOG were the Searchers and the songs “Needles and Pins” and “Don’t Throw Your Love Away”. Moved to South Carolina at age 12 and lost the connection for many years.

        1. We probably talked about this before, but back in the late 70s/early 80’s my old punk-rock outfit used to play a great little joint in G-boro called Fridays. It was a homey little pizza place run by a NYC refugee and his wife or GF, whichever. I think his name was Steve, maybe.

          Oh, and of course 610 AM was converted to an all-sports format years back. I suppose it still is, I dunno.

          1. I left Greensboro in ’65. However, I spent a lot of time there especially in the late 70’s to 1990 or so because the company I worked for was located in G. I’m pretty sure I remember Friday’s, but don’t recall knowing the proprietor. I’ve said before that I think I heard you play somewhere but couldn’t put my finger on it. That may be it. Memory of those things is always fuzzy, mostly due to alcohol being served 🙂

      2. I remember hearing the long version of Bluebird on FM Radio, but having tuned in after the DJ announced it, I never caught who the band was. For years I tried in vain to find out.

        I believe it was WNEW to the rescue for me finally. Possibly in a Two For Tuesday in which they played Bluebird AND another song I was trying to find out about as well, Rock and Roll Woman, together and I caught the name and group.

        I went right out as soon as I could to find a Buffalo Springfield record with them on it.

  1. The stations I knew and tuned into late at night and into the early morning hours from 1968 to 1974 were various “free form FM” stations in Kansas City, which played all sorts of interesting music after midnight – when the owners had gone to bed… and “Bleecker Street” on KAAY from Little Rock, Arkansas, and WLS in Chicago. That Buddy Miles song brought back the summer of 1970 for me, a bit of time travel there. And this is the first time I’d seen Christgau mentioned in years. I remember the music he reviewed, not him or his reviews. I think most “classic rock” stations are simply the digital version of a 24 hour tape loop without any human intervention, utterly soulless and boring, you can tell what time it is by what song is playing, day after day.About the closest thing you can get to free form FM today is this –

    1. WLS (Chicago) is pretty famous I think. I could get it at night when most stations had to be off the air and the signal went from groundwave propogation (daytime) to bouncing off the ionosphere (skywave propogation) which traveled much greater distances. The ionosphere layers change when the sun goes down which is why this occurs and why most AM stations must go off air (otherwise way too much soup in the can).

  2. I just made a similar comment on another thread to this one.

    It’s as if programmers, DJs, and/or station managers are completely unaware that these great artists actually recorded and released a helluva lot more material than just the five or six all-too-familiar songs they’ve boiled entire careers’ worth of output down to and are even now running into the fucking ground. I just don’t get it, I really don’t.

    I think the Why is answered by “Because it’s SAFE”. Play too many songs outside of the agreed list of Favorites from a band and someone might get the idea to turn it off.

    Sadly, I think the suits have it terminally bass ackwards. The repetitiveness of it all has people turning it off. But to go through thousands of songs and create changing playlists that are interesting and varied is Hard Work and what if we suck at it?

    Hint: you DO suck at it. That’s why you’re a Suit and that’s why DJs were NEEDED.


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