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Santana - 'Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics of All Time'

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Santana - 'Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics of All Time'
Arista Records

The Bottom Line

There is only a small handful of rock guitarists who are on the same level as Carlos Santana, and Santana is one of the few who can do justice to those whose work he covers on his latest album of collaborations, Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics Of All Time. In the hands of a less talented artist, this might have been an album of cheap knock-offs. In Santana's experienced and capable hands, it is elevated from a routine covers album to a genuine tribute paid by an ax master to some of his fellow masters who are among the few who qualify as his peers.

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  • Santana knows the difference between imitation and interpretation
  • Songs are well chosen to showcase the artist's range of skills


  • A few of the vocal interpretations range from puzzling to distracting


  • Release date September 21, 2010 - Arista Records; produced by Carlos Santana and Clive Davis
  • "Whole Lotta Love" - Chris Cornell (Soundgarden)
    "Can't You Hear Me Knocking" - Scott Weiland (Stone Temple Pilots)
  • "Sunshine of Your Love" - Rob Thomas (Match Box Twenty)
    "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" - India.Arie and Yo-Yo Ma
  • "Photograph" - Chris Daughtry (Daughtry)
    "Back in Black" - Nas and Janelle Monáe
  • "Riders on the Storm" - Chester Bennington (Linkin Park)& Ray Manzarek (The Doors)
  • "Smoke on the Water" - Jacoby Shaddix (Papa Roach)
    "Dance the Night Away" - Pat Monahan (Train)
  • "Bang a Gong" - Gavin Rossdale (Bush)
    "Little Wing" - Joe Cocker
    "I Ain't Superstitious" - Jonny Lang
  • Deluxe version includes two bonus tracks:
    "Fortunate Son" - Scott Stapp (Creed)
    "Under the Bridge" - Andy Vargas
  • Available on CD, CD/DVD and MP3

Guide Review - Santana - 'Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics of All Time'

Clearly, Santana had to tread lightly on the thin line between imitating the classic guitar licks of artists like Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix and interpreting them, adding his own special touch. In most cases, he succeeded nicely, giving songs like "Whole Lotta Love" (Page) and "Sunshine of Your Love" (Clapton) and "Little Wing" (Hendrix) due respect, and enough little extra touches to make you realize at once who's playing.

Well known guest vocalists have become something of a trademark on Santana albums in recent years. With only a couple of exceptions (the Nas hip-hop version of AC/DC's "Back in Black" and Gavin Rossdale's overly pop-ish delivery of "Bang a Gong") vocalist and song match up well.

Chris Cornell sounds just enough like Robert Plant to make "Whole Lotta Love" interesting, but not enough to seem like an imitation. Joe Cocker was the perfect choice for the Hendrix classic, "Little Wing". Jacoby Shaddix wisely avoids trying to duplicate the original but is true to the spirit of "Smoke on the Water". The arrangement and choice of collaborators (India.Arie and Yo-Yo Ma) on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" were inspired.

The quality of the vocals (good or bad) notwithstanding, Santana's solos are worth the price of admission in every case. Although I thought there was a bit too much use of the wah-wah pedal, I thoroughly enjoyed the way he worked in that spooky voodoo thing he does so well, and his brief but electrifying (no pun intended) exercises in shredding.

Longtime Santana fan or not, anyone who has felt the gravitational pull of some of rock's best guitar riffs will find much to be entertained by on this album. That a few of the vocals are a distraction is a small price to pay to listen to one of the true originals of rock guitar pay tribute to a few of the others.

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