Santana: Corazon (RCA)
It has been more than a decade since Carlos Santana last released a major label studio album, Shaman, but you have to go back to 1999s huge selling Supernatural album for the template to this new album titled Corazon—‘Heart’ in English.
Like Supernatural, Santana has hooked up with many current stars for a collaborative album but unlike the mainstream pop and rock stars of Supernatural, Santana has now hooked up with many international stars the Latin music realm.
This will ensure huge sales around the world while his hard core fans have bought enough of Corazon to make this a top 10 entry in the USA. There is a lot to like here especially on the Deluxe Edition CD and DVD that has a few extra songs.
Unlike the Supernatural sessions, Santana has tamed down his guitar solos and fills where he is more economical. In the past he tended to fill up every breathing space or even gaps between lyrics with guitar jabs but this time he is more integrated in the mix.
My fave track is the lead off party celebration song Saideira that has a sly hint of ska in the mix.
Ziggy Marley also shines on his cover of his father’s Iron Lion Zion whereas the remake of Oye Coma Va titled Oye 2014 with Pitbull is under-realized and pointless.
Lots of stars here with help from Gloria Estefan, Miguel, Wayne Shorter, Diego Torres, Juanes, Samuel Rosa and too many more to mention.
Michael Jackson: Xscape (Epic)
Posthumous albums are always somewhat problematic in that, is this how MJ wanted these songs to turn out or is this a fancy of the producers, here overseen by L.A. Reid and Timbaland.
Well, if you get the Deluxe Edition CD and DVD you get to hear both MJ’s demo workups as well as the Xscape pure pop versions and thankfully the producers here did not go overboard with too much studio gimmickry. Most of these songs seem true to MJ’s often fully fleshed demo plans while some of these songs date well back in Jackson’s career before Off The Wall and Thriller.
The lead off song, Love Never Felt So Good, is a solid pop tune with hooky disco overtones (as co-written by Paul Anka!) while that same song is bound to get the most airplay as it also serves as a ‘duet’ with Justin Timberlake.
I am sure that committed MJ fans will have their preferences as to the demo and newly produced versions—they run one after another in sequence—while the title track Xscape is yet another swipe at the leering press and omnipresent paparazzi with its desperate lyrics “I can’t take this garbage anymore.”
And, ultimately, MJ found his escape which to my ears makes these types of posthumous releases mostly for fans only.