Carlos Santana has released the third single from his upcoming album Blessings and Miracles, a soulful cover of Procol Harum’s Whiter Shade of Pale, for which he’s recruited fellow electric guitar icon Steve Winwood.
The wholly faithful rendition comes complete with an equally hypnotically smooth keys progression, though is amped up by way of some up-tempo percussive trills and a healthy dose of Santana’s super-sustained licks and flourishes.
Just over a minute of flat-out soloing closes the track out, with Santana rattling off wah-tinged pentatonic licks, rapid-fire ‘board-spanning embellishments and searing, high-end bends.
Of how their partnership for Whiter Shade of Pale came about, Santana recalls that the two met at a show in London’s Hyde Park, and that he had a very specific sonic direction in mind for the single.
“I said, ‘You and I have to do it, but we’re going to do it very sexy, like a Hare Krishna but with congas,’” said Santana. “I played the components in his ear, and he said, ‘I hear it, Carlos. You’re right.’ So that’s what we did – it’s Santana, Cuban, Puerto Rican in an African way. And man, you talk about sexy. Steve’s voice is so sexy and beautiful.”
Added Winwood, “Carlos has been doing what I’ve been trying to do for the last fifty years, namely combining elements of rock, jazz, folk and Latin/Afro-Caribbean music.
“Carlos’ genius comes in large part from a wonderful combination of rock music with Latin-Cuban rhythms,” he continued. “I’ve played with Carlos on numerous occasions over the past fifty years and I’m very excited to be working with him again still.”
Whiter Shade of Pale joins the the previously released Move, which marked the first time Santana had teamed up with singer Rob Thomas since the pair released their monumental megahit Smooth in 1999.
Winwood and Thomas are just two of many notable collaborators set to crop up on Blessings and Miracles, with Kirk Hammett, Chris Stapleton, Rick Rubin, Diane Warren, Corey Glover, Ally Brooke, Narada Michael Walden and the late Chick Corea all confirmed to be making an appearance on the album.
The record itself – named after Santana’s belief that “we’re born with heavenly powers that allow us to create blessings and miracles” – was recorded over a two year period, and also features drummer Cindy Blackman Santana, singer Tommy Anthony and bassist Benny Rietveld.
Other members of Santana’s touring band – including percussionist Karl Perazzo, keyboardist David K. Matthews – will be joined by Carlos’s children, Salvador on Stella, who will provide vocal support.
"The world programs you to be unworthy of those gifts, but we have to utilize light, spirit and soul – they’re indestructible and immutable," said Santana. "Those are the three main elements on this album."
- Blessings and Miracles (opens in new tab) will be released via BMG on October 15, and is available to preorder now.