Picks and Pans Review: Beyond Appearances
Carlos Santana's skills as a guitarist were already extravagant when he sprang into prominence with an electrifying performance at the Woodstock Festival in 1969. Over the years he has continued to extend the range of his expression past rock 'n' roll. His wickedly articulated playing evinced more of an aptitude and affinity for jazz as he added African influences to his Latino taproots. However, since the addition of vocalist Alex Ligertwood (formerly with Brian Auger) on his Marathon LP in 1979, Santana and his group have regressed toward an ossified pop-rock style. Like the group's three other retrograde releases since then, Beyond Appearances lacks the fireworks of early Santana. Carlos does provide some nice touches, such as the speckled flamenco in Spirit or the tart guitar tone on the cover of Curtis Mayfield's I'm the One Who Loves You. But there is confusion in more than just style. There are two lead vocalists on Beyond Appearances. Ligertwood shares the mike with the group's former singer, Greg Walker, and it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between them. There are also two guys named Chester Thompson playing on the album, one on keyboards, the other on drums. There is still only one Carlos Santana, but he should stop trying to masquerade as a jukebox. He's much too talented to waste time on the pop drivel that dominates this album. (CBS)
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