Album Review: Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics of all Time – Santana

Posted: November 8, 2010 in Album Reviews, music
Tags: , ,

Here’s an album that asks the musical question, “why?” When music business icon Clive Davis approached Carlos Santana to record this album of covers, his initial reaction was to say “no”. Clive finally wore him down. Carlos should have stuck to his guns.

On the surface it makes sense. Santana had massive success with a radical reworking of the Zombies’ “She’s Not There”, for example, and he made “Black Magic Woman” so much his own that I’m sure many people don’t realize that it’s a cover of a Peter Green penned Fleetwood Mac song.

Unfortunately, there’s little of the same inspiration here. Indeed, the common recipe here seems to be take the original arrangement, add Carlos’ guitar and some latin percussion, and release. However, the originals are mostly high-profile, landmark tracks loved by many, such as “Whole Lotta Love”, “Smoke on the Water”, and “Sunshine of Your Love”. You can’t help but compare Santana’s versions as either exact or inferior copies. On Def Leppard’s “Photograph”, for example, you could be forgiven for assuming that he’s playing over the original tracks.

The overall feeling is of Carlos Santana sitting in with a half decent pub band on a Saturday night. And, yes, Carlos’s guitar is as easy on the ear as ever. But it’s one thing having a go at these songs with your mates, it’s another thing asking people to shell out €14 or more for a copy.

It’s not entirely bad news. Carlos, India Arie and Yo-Yo Ma do a smooth and smoky version of “While My guitar Gently Weeps” that you should go out of your way to hear, and Nas helps Santana breathe fresh life into AC/DC’s “Back in Black”, turning it into a proper rap (OK, the Beastie Boys had a go at it, but that was over 25 years ago and everyone except me has forgotten).

As for the rest of the album, it just doesn’t work for me. Sorry Clive, but I think it was flawed from conception.

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