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Santana – Guitar Heaven

This one deserves its own post. I didn’t know it existed, but when I found it yesterday for $5 (brand new), I was highly intrigued. And I feel that have to do it track by track, to do it justice. So, for today, brevity must wait.

Also, just for expediency’s sake, let’s just write once, here, that the man has a gigantic and noodly guitar solo in all of these tracks. Of course!

Santana – Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics Of All Time

A collection of selected rock songs in, what has become, Santana’s usual mode of operating now, it seems. The man and his band with guest stars on each track. Let’s give ‘er!

1) Whole Lotta Love (f. Chris Cornell) 

A fast-paced rip through Zep’s tune. Cornell handles the vocals just like you’d think it would sound (cool) and the guitar is fun, especially the soloing at the end.

2) Can’t You Hear Me Knocking (f. Scott Weiland)

This one retains the slinky and rocks it up a bit faster. Weiland’s vocals disappear in the noise now and then, but when I could hear him it was alright. The guitar solo is fun, it totally morphs into a Santana song. Fun.

3) Sunshine Of Your Love (f. Rob Thomas)

Whoa, this is different. MORE COWBELL! I’m so used to the original, so this sounds really… busy. But it’s different enough that it’s interesting. Thomas’ vocals are pretty good homage.

4) While My Guitar Gently Weeps (f. India.Arie & Yo-Yo Ma)

Yup, this is a fascinating bunch of people doing an all-time favourite tune. Santana plays acoustic/Spanish guitar, except for the solo when he switches to electric. India.Arie’s vocals are breathy but suit it well. Yo-Yo Ma disappears as the song builds.

5) Photograph (Chris Daughty)

Basically a re-tread, though the bongo drums are new, the beat is a bit bouncier, and it’s missing a bit of that shoof sound on the snare drum (you know the one I mean). But it really hangs on the vocals. Maybe I’m just so used to the DL original, and I missed Elliott’s voice. Still, Daughty doesn’t do a bad job, just not what my ear was used to hearing.

6) Back In Black (f. NaS)

Bring the usual Santana rhythm section, add some great wailing lady back-up singers, and NaS’ rap-talk thing. It shouldn’t work. But it does!

7) Riders On The Storm (f. Chester Bennington & Ray Manzarek)

This song sounds built to be Santana-fied. It really works, and it was a cool coup to get Manzarek to play. Benningtons vocals aim more for Morrison territory than trying to sound like himself. Complete with rain storm effects!

8) Smoke On The Water (f. Jacoby Shaddix)

I had to look up who Shaddix is, turns out he’s singer for Papa Roach. Not a band I’ve heard much of, so I can’t compare to his usual. But he comports himself well here and, along with that crazy rhythm section and Carlos’ big guitar, a song that we’ve all heard a zillion times is amazingly (improbably?) rendered fresh.

9) Dance The Night Away (f. Pat Monahan)

Another one I had to look up, Monahan sings for a band called Train. I know of them, but am not too knowledgeable about them. This version of the classic Van Halen track is a bit faster (and bouncier, again) than the original, but of course the cowbell is still here! All deference to Monahan, who did a good job here and far better than any of us could ever do, but there is only one Diamond Dave. Still, a cool track.

10) Bang A Gong (f. Gavin Rossdale)

A funky take to be sure, though I’d say Rossdale’s (usually distinctive) vocals could’ve been anybody. Not a knock, but if you’d played this for me and I didn’t know who it was I would not have guessed him straight away.

11) Little Wing (f. Joe Cocker)

A lovely slow bluesy (with a bit of swing to it) trip through a Hendrix stone cold classic. Cocker (R.I.P.)’s voice is perfect for it. You just heard it in your head, didn’t you? Exactly. Definitely a highlight track here (and I’m not saying that ‘cos Joe died – this track owns and I’d say so if he was still with us)!

12) I Ain’t Superstitious (f. Jonny Lang)

Man, there’s a name I haven’t heard in ages, not since I loved his first two records way back in the 90s. And this old Wilie Dixon tune is perfect for him. Actually, paired with Little Wing, the whole album goes out on a blissful bluesy wave! This track has a lot of guitar, of course, and Lang sounds exactly the same as he did. Sweet!!

In Sum:

I wasn’t totally sure what to expect from this, and at first I’d have argued that this song selection maybe wasn’t all The Greatest Guitar Classics Of All Time. I mean, maybe it is to Carlos, but we could argue all day about songs that are more important classics. Nevermind. This disc is a shit-ton of fun and a superb listen. I’ll be spinning this again for sure!!

guitar heaven

Noodly noodly WAHHHH!!


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