Saturday, May 28, 2011

Guitar Heaven by Santana

Look, Carlos Santana is a legend. And he truly has created some of the most memorable guitar lines in history. Unfortunately, very few of them are in evidence on this album, Santana's Guitar Heaven.

Consisting of songs by The Doors, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Def Leppard, Deep Purple and other iconic bands, these tracks represent some of the most memorable guitar driven-songs in rock 'n roll history. So why would Carlos Santana choose to re-do them? There really is only one answer that makes sense:


If you really stretch, you could rationalize that Santana — by coupling young, current lead singers with classic rock songs — is introducing said songs to a younger generation. There's only one problem with that: those songs need no introduction to any generation.

Years ago, when uber-chops players were king, when Steve Vai and Joe Satriani were all the rage (don't get me wrong, they both are phenomenal players), a number of focus groups asked "young" people (11 to 22) who their favorite guitar players were. You know who they chose?

In no particular order:

Jimi Hendrix
Eric Clapton
Jimmy Page

Hmmmmm . . . It seems that "classic" rock is both alive and well — to listeners at any age. In that case, other than sales figures, there really was no good reason to deliver versions that are, at best, adequate, and, at worst, anemic, of these anthemic songs. With one exception:

"While My Guitar Gently Weeps"

This is a great song that, in this writer's opinion, is not usually given its due by the many talented six-string slingers that have attempted it. However, on this one track, Carlos Santana actually captures the flavor of the song in a way that totally fits the song itself.


Because, as he did in days of old, Carlos actually complements the flavor of the song. He celebrates the very "minor"-ness of it — something that is often sidestepped. In addition to this, the brilliant decisions to bring in both cellist extraordinaire Yo Yo Ma, and soulful pop vocalist Indie.Arie, were made. Both of which highlighted the haunting harmony and melody of this piece — one of George Harrison's best.

So, for his brilliant rendition of the Beatles classic, bravo! It's nice to hear that the Latin-rock legend still has some magic up his sleeve, and proves, once again, why he has become the legend he is.