Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Run For Cover

There are two basic approaches to doing a cover song:  you can try to be true to the original, paying homage to it by trying to replicate it.  The Beatles were masters at that, because - even though they went virtually note for note when they covered Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry or Carl Perkins - they still sounded like the Beatles.

A second strategy is to come up with a brand new interpretation, to take the song and re-invent it, to capture the magic of the old song yet make it fresh at the same time.  Not an easy thing to do, which is one of the reasons I admire Eric Clapton.  He is a master at re-interpreting other people's songs (OK, except maybe for I Shot the Sheriff).

In both cases you're trying to improve over the original (respectfully of course).  If that's not the goal, or if the song can't be improved (because it's already perfect), then what's the point?

Which brings us to Guitar Heaven, Sanata's recent recording.  Unfortunately, Carlos doesn't seem to be following either strategy.  Except maybe for While My Guitar Gently Weeps, he doesn't really seem to be trying anything particularly new (no, not even the rap vocals on Back In Black).  But he's not trying too hard to stick with the original either.

So, you recognize the songs, and you recognize Santana's guitar playing, but in the end it comes off like Carlos is just jamming along to songs he likes, and we all like.  But has he improved any of them?

Sorry, Carlos, but nope.

By the way, since when was Riders On The Storm a guitar song?

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