" Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics of All Time "
Sony Records

Blueswax Rating 4

Commercial Sellout

This new Santana disc is targeted directly at the classic rock radio format and baby boomers. Is that a good thing? Sometimes, yes, but for the most part, no. In a familiar pattern, Clive Davis and company employ the big stars to try to pull this off. I am not very familiar with most of the current-day featured stars. The guests that I know are Joe Cocker, Jonny Lang, and Ray Manzarek.

Willie Dixon's "Whole Lotta Love," which was later rearranged by Led Zeppelin, is redone again here and fails to deliver.The Stones' "Can't You Hear Me Knocking" fares much better. Scott Weiland's vocals are okay, but it's Santana who steals the show during the instrumental segment and offers his most creative guitar work on this CD.

"Sunshine of Your Love" is a complete throwaway. I don't think George Harrison would have cared for India.Arie and Yo-Yo Ma's almost folk interpretation of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." "Back In Black" is given a rap treatment next.

Ray Manzarek attempts to recreate the Doors classic "Riders on the Storm," but does not get to solo and just lays down his distinctive groove. Santana's playing is far too excessive and he could have used a lesson from Robbie Krieger. Oh my God,Deep Purple's "Smoke On The Water," Van Halen's "Dance the Night Away," and T. Rex's "Bang a Gong" are downright hideous, lame, and so very predictable. Thankfully, Joe Cocker's in good vocal form on Hendrix' "Little Wing," but Santana is not a good candidate to exhume the dynamics of Jimi. Blues ensues on Willie Dixon's "I Ain't Superstitious" with Jonny Lang's uncomfortable vocals sans guitar. Once again Santana's mostly over the top playing fails to impress and is filled with predictable clichˇs.

On both his music and with other worldly projects, Carlos Santana is a man who usually prides himself on being true to his craft and his good deeds. Unfortunately, this is not the case here. Guitar Heaven is one very big sellout for commercial success and nothing more. Last but not least, the feeling I get is that Santana mailed this one in. Most of his solos sound like one-off studio takes, his tone is also similar from track to track and most importantly Carlos does not exude his renowned passion. This is a pop-rock recording not at its finest, and it desperately lacks creativity. Guitar Heaven is destined to be soon forgotten.

Bob Putignano a senior contributing editor at BluesWax. He is also the heart of Sounds of Blues at Bob maybe contacted at:

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