The Isley Brothers & Santana - Power of Peace

by Kevin Wierzbicki

The thought of Santana collaborating with The Isley Brothers for a full album is mouth-watering, and fans will no longer have to dream about such an event as it has come to fruition with the new album Power of Peace. The line-up here is Carlos Santana on guitar, his wife Cindy Blackmon-Santana on drums and vocals, Ronald Isley on vocals, Ernie Isley on rhythm guitar, and Isley spouses Kandy Johnson Isley and Tracy Isley on background vocals.

The album's one new cut is "I Remember," a laid back and jazzy remembrance of being totally in love that's sung by Cindy; the song very much has the feeling of a breezy Brazilian samba. Otherwise the set list consists of interpretations of songs that have influenced these great artists (and obviously still do), and most of them are well-known, if not instantly recognizable. The Chambers Brothers "Are You Ready," for example, has an extended percussion intro that differs from the original's single version that most are familiar with, and where Ronald's vocals join the beat just before Santana jumps in with psychedelic guitar riffing. The mood remains psychedelic as the band rocks out to Swamp Dogg's "Total Destruction to Your Mind," and Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground" gets a psych boogie interpretation that leaves room for Carlos to go absolutely nuts with his lengthy solo.

There are quiet moments too as Ronald sings in falsetto for a good portion of the Billie Holiday chestnut "God Bless the Child;" Isley also hits some high notes on Eddie Kendricks' "Body Talk." In the same vein, Isley goes to the upper registers for Curtis Mayfield's "Gypsy Woman," which while oft covered, has an arrangement here that you've likely never heard before. Another oft covered cut, the blues standard "I Just Want to Make Love to You," also sizzles with a unique arrangement.

Other tracks include stellar takes on "Love, Peace, Happiness" (The Chambers Brothers), "What the World Needs Now is Love Sweet Love" (Jackie DeShannon, Dionne Warwick), "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)" (Marvin Gaye) and "Let the Rain Fall on Me" (Leon Thomas). The set closes with a sublime take on the Sy and Jill Jackson Miller "Let There Be Peace on Earth," a song originally written for a children's choir that has become a Christmastime standard. Featuring all of the singers, lots of percussion and some hot riffs from Carlos, the cut is a perfect ending to the effort. Certainly if this were a live show fans would be screaming for an encore at this point. Likely though Power of Peace is VSOP; a very special one-time performance, with a big emphasis on special.

It hits stores on July 28th. Order your copy here.

The Isley Brothers & Santana - Power of Peace

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