Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Santana: The Essential Santana [Columbia/Legacy, 2003]
Columbia's Essential series dishonors a great packaging concept: two-CD best-of in single-size jewel box. Every title that isn't a priori redundant is either too long or, yes, too short; the second discs almost unfailingly home in on late schlock, especially misbegotten collaborations (hint: Willie Nelson's Hank Snow and Webb Pierce one-offs now occupy one budget disc). But the first disc here is long-winded enough to evoke a real Santana album but not so long-winded you won't give the next soundalike solo a shot, and so's its second disc--except for the dreadful patch in the middle featuring Scots belter Alex Ligertwood, a textbook example of how horribly wrong "rock" went in the AOR '80s. This clueless corporate greed, that clueless corporate greed--so different, yet so the same. [Recyclables]