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Santana - Santana CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.13 | 409 ratings

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mystic fred
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars 1969 and all that...

1969 - a very exciting year for rock fans, many new styles and influences had been appearing from all over the world and the foundations were being laid down for future generations. Among these was Carlos Santana from Mexico, who brought a new Latin influence to electric guitar led rock, Carlos unselfishly allowing his unrestrained musicians to express themselves freely with exciting Latin drums, percussion and organ openly competing with the lead instrument, but all blending in perfectly at the same time.

Having almost stolen the show at Woodstock with a brilliant well-documented performance of "Soul Sacrifice" Santana took the music world by storm even before this amazing first album was released. The popular laid-back peace-loving Hippy image belied a ruthless businesslike professionalism among musicians and artists, all competing yet all sharing a revitalised hotbed of creativity and imagination, by this time even The Beatles were beginning to be overshadowed by overwhelmingly talented artists such as Santana, the Blues boom and the emergence of the Progressive revolution. Such was the level of creative pressure at this time bands were expected to release an album (or two) every year and they still managed to produce great music - we never had it so good!

Santana had honed his band and his sound almost to perfection, very evident on this milestone debut album, the crystal clarity, freshness and vitality bursts through the speakers on every track, so much energy is here it is impossible to keep still - I remember at the time at almost every party this sexy soulful music would be played over and over! I still play this album regularly, often marvelling at the brilliant sound quality and vitality it reveals.

Most of the tracks on this album are exceptional - the first "Waiting" starts gently and features the rock organ punctuated by brief busts of guitar and bongos, but by the second track things start to cook! The moderately paced "Evil Ways" was a huge hit for the band, and is well-placed in the sequence of tracks here (I love the line "when I come home, baby, my house is dark and my pots are cold.."), after liquid solos from Carlos and Gregg Rolie on organ things literally burst into speed, a good primer for the fast pace the songs reach in the next three tracks on side 1. "Shades of Time" slips into a classic latin beat then literally bursts out of the speakers! An amazing catchy riff and solo from Carlos the song then leads into "Savor" - now things are really cooking on gas, as they say! A fast and furious Latin jam featuring percussion and organ, those drums really come alive, and that single splash cymbal hovers way up over the speakers, and if that wasn't enough the song is followed by another monster hit, the instrumental "Jin-Go-Lo-Ba", used for countless TV and radio themes, the tribal drums on this have to be heard to be believed, lauded by music fans of every genre, the beat is magical and infectious - guaranteed to break the thickest ice!

On side 2 the pressure doesn't let up, though "Persuasion", and "You Just Don't Care" are possibly the weakest songs on the album, but still contain some amazing musicianship, "Treat" is an slow bluesey instrumental containing some late-nite bar room tinkling piano, the middle section breaks into a Latin rhythm and a trademark signature solo from Carlos, it's amazing how much emotion this man can bleed from a guitar - a true master even at this early stage in his career. The whole album is crowned by their masterpiece "Soul Sacrifice", eminently displayed at Woodstock where the song ran for eleven minutes but is just over six minutes here. This instrumental has a very catchy theme and a driving beat, which is worked around with some very energetic playing from all musicians in turn, including those drums (Mike Shrieve) , percussion (Mike Carabello and Jose Chepito Areas) and organ (Gregg Rolie).

This important debut was the first in a run of four of Santana's best albums, praised by fans of all genres, and an essential masterpiece to any Jazz/Fusion collection!

mystic fred | 4/5 |


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