Santana - Guitar Heaven

On the face of it, being subtitled 'The Greatest Guitar Classics Of All Time', the promise of some hard hitting classics, served by the guitar legend himself, Carlos Santana, seems mouth-watering. The obvious are paid homage to; Page, Clapton, Harrison and Hendrix are all represented, even Blackmore on 'Smoke On The Water'. Though tastes will determine exactly what 'The Greatest Guitar Classics Of All Time' are, there are a few oddities included. Expecting classic air guitar anthems and storming lead breaks, I couldn't help be left feeling a little wanting at the end.

Undoubtedly, the man has immense talents and he has gathered around him some great guest musicians and singers here. The album kicks off very well with 'Whole Lotta Love' featuring Chris Cornell; a brave opener indeed. The classic 'Zeppelin track is given a very good makeover and the singing (which has a lot to face up to) is very good and, of course, so is the guitar work.

Not really a 'guitar classic' , 'Can't You Hear Me Knocking' follows which features Scott Weiland (ex Stone Temple Pilots/Velvet Revolver). This is a good tune, arranged and delivered to a very high standard, but I wonder how many would say the song itself is a 'guitar classic'.

Back to what probably 99% of people expected to be here; Cream's legendary 'Sunshine Of Your Love'. Here, old collaborator, Rob Thomas delivers the vocals which are fresh above the crisp guitar and backing. The more melancholy George Harrison-penned 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps' is delivered with great sensitivity by singer India.Arie and the sublime cello of Yo-Yo Ma.

Def Leppard's 'Photograph' (featuring Chris Daughtry) is again not what I'd reckon is a guitar classic but its choice seems to work. Again, the arrangement and delivery are excellent. When I saw that Nas (rap artist) was the guest on the AC/DC humdinger 'Back In Black', I skipped right to it; I couldn't imagine how this would work. Work it did; and very well too. It's emerged as probably one of my favourite tracks on the album.

A pet dislike of mine is the droning rhythms and monotone voice on the played-to-death Doors song 'Riders On The Storm'. Featuring Chester Bennington and Ray Manzarek, the track is technically very good, though my eclectic tastes can't be swayed quite that far. The same hold true for 'Bang A Gong'; come on, this is not even close to the brief.

Deep Purple's 'Smoke On The Water' featuring Jacoby Shaddix is a hit and is delivered with an understanding and respect to the original, as is 'Little Wing' featuring the master of gruff, Joe Cocker.

Van Halen's 'Dance The Night Away' (why didn't they do 'Jump'?) featuring Pat Monahan is well presented but the guitar playing is really let loose with the album closer, 'I Ain't Superstitious'. Featuring Jonny Lang, Carlos is not as concerned to sticking with the original for fear of heckling; he's allowed to be more expressive, resulting in my other favourite track on the album.

The choice of tracks won't please everyone but there's no denying that Carlos Santana can still play a bit (quite a lot, actually). The album is a great mix of tunes and is delivered with great passion and some considerable skill.