The Inside Pulse: Ever since he exploded on the scene at Woodstock, Carlos Santana has been regarded as one of the best guitarists of all time. He faded from the scene in the 80’s, like most of his contemporaries, but enjoyed a massive renaissance with 1999’s Supernatural, fueled by the megahit “Smooth” with Matchstick Twenty’s Rob Thomas. After following up with 2002’s Shaman, Carlos is back with another album of collaborations, All That I Am.
Positives: Carlos’s guitar has rarely sounded better, as he proves that he is aging like a fine wine. Check out his interplay with Metallica’s Kirk Hammett and steel pedal guitar virtuoso Robert Randolph on “Trinity”, the album’s best track, as the trio jams the night away. The album’s opening track, “Hermes”, is classic Abraxas-era Santana. “I Don’t Wanna Lose Your Love”, with Los Lonely Boys, is almost a passing of the torch from the old generation to the new. And Steven Tyler of Aerosmith joins Carlos on “Just Feel Better” to show the new school how it’s done.
Negatives: The Hip-Hop collaborations fall short of the rest of the album. While “My Man”, with Mary J. Blige and Big Boi of Outkast is OK, it sounds like something from a Mary J. album with Carlos playing on a track, rather than the other way around. And “I Am Somebody”, with Will.I.Am from The Black Eyed Peas, could have been easily left off the album and never missed. The only one that fits in the album is “Cry Baby Cry” with Joss Stone and Sean Paul, as Sean Paul adapts to Santana’s vibe rather than the other way around.
Cross-breed: Classic Santana with the full spectrum of pop music.
Reason to buy: One of the greatest guitarists of all time is at the top of his form.