By Agence France Presse
NEW YORK – Teaming up with The Isley Brothers for a new album, Carlos Santana isn’t just uniting two musical legends. He believes the sound can change the world.
The pioneering rock guitarist holds lofty hopes for “Power of Peace,” a collection of covers recorded with The Isley Brothers, who set the stage for pop music in the 1950s and 1960s with hits such as “Shout” and “Twist and Shout.”
“We felt that we needed to come together like superheroes and come and rescue this time and place in this planet that so intensely needs medicine to heal itself,” the fedora-wearing guitarist said as he presented the album at Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Lady Studios in New York’s Greenwich Village.
Described as “medicine music” by Santana, the album, which came out Friday, merges the smooth soul voice of Ron Isley with Santana’s distinctively rich-toned, poetically phrased guitar riffs.
The best-known songs covered on the album include Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground,” on which Santana rocks out with a high-voltage solo, and Marvin Gaye’s environmental anthem “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology),” which takes on some of Santana’s signature Latin rhythms.
Isley, 76, shows the still mellifluous texture and high range of his voice on Leon Thomas’s “Let the Rain Fall on Me” and as he channels Billie Holiday on “God Bless the Child.”
Santana, who recently turned 70, has long spoken of a spirituality found in music — and believes ever more fervently in its power in 2017’s political climate.
“I encourage people to play it in parking lots, shopping malls, CNN — everywhere,” Santana said of the album, “so you can correct a twisted, crooked mind that wants to harm other people.”
Making clear he was alluding to President Donald Trump, Santana said: “Some fool is trying to create more walls.
“We say, you don’t have to. Save your money. It’s already in people’s heads,” he said.
“So we want to take the wall out of people’s heads by creating this kind of frequency.”
Like a ‘galactic church’
“Power of Peace” was recorded in little more than four days in Las Vegas when Santana invited Ron Isley and younger brother Ernie Isley, a guitarist.