Power Of Peace

The Isley Brothers & Santana

Two families — the Isleys and the Santanas — call their 13-song Power Of Peace collaboration a fulfillment of a dream. Pulling in some classic soul, funk, blues, rock and pop songs, we get a full range of tracks that inspired all of the players.

Carlos Santana not only lends his signature guitar work to the brew but acts as the main producer and arranger here. His wife Cindy Blackman Santana plays drums and also wrote “I Remember,” The album’s only original track. The Isley Brothers — Ronald (vocals) and Ernie (rhythm guitar) — are joined by their spouses, Kandy and Tracy, who sing background vocals.

Ronald Isley’s voice sounds as rich as ever, as Carlos Santana plays around and under him for most of the record — wah-wah wailing on Swamp Dogg’s “Total Destruction To Your Mind,” cutting through on the soft piano ballad gospel of Billie Holiday’s “God Bless The Child,” and flipping pull-offs on the pure MOR funk of Eddie Kendricks naughty "Body Talk.”

On “I Remember,” Santana manages a Bossa Nova-like beat with his guitar picking and clean-note leads over the piano. Cindy Blackman Santana and Ronald Isley duet round this sly little slip of a tune that doesn’t lift. It sounds very much like “What the World Needs Now Is Love Sweet Love,” which ends the album and is indicative of a godd portion of Power Of Peace. The players, even the considerable heavyweight Carlos Santana, seem to take a backseat to Ronald Isley, whose vocals more or less carry the record.

Yes, there’s competent stabs here at well-known material from musicians obviously thrilled to be in on another’s company. Out-of-the gate rockers like Julius Chambers' "Are you Ready" and Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground" get it going, and as it settles down, it becomes more of an easy listening record. To some listeners, there may not be a lot that stands out on Power Of Peace; however the idea of two prominent families coming together to make music more than makes up for its underlying faults.

~ Ralph Greco, Jr.

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