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Santana - Inner Secrets CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

2.49 | 89 ratings

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1 stars From 1978 onward, Santana would produce virtually nothing of note. And for a long time too. Despite the commercial success of the much-vaunted late-nineties all-star comeback album 'Superatural' and it's pair of facsimiled follow-ups, there has been precious little music to get excited about since 1977's 'Moonflower', a half-live, half-studio double-album which was essentially a compilation piece rounding up the best bits from the latin group's last three studio efforts 'Borboletta', 'Amigos' and 'Festival', all of which were issued between 1974 and 1976. Fans may not have guessed it at the time but 'Moonflower' would prove to be the very last musical breath of the Santana band's jazz-fusion age. Meant as a new kind of beginning, 'Inner Secrets' was issued at a time when Santana's commercial fortunes were starting to dwindle, with Carlos Santana himself now the only original member left. Although 'Moonflower' had been a success, the studio albums were faring less well, and the advent of punk-rock had brutally altered the rock 'n' roll landscape of the 1970's. The group's previous studio effort, 1977's 'Festival', had received a lukewarm response from both critics and fans, and this, coupled with the huge North American success groups such as Styx, Journey and Kansas were then achieving, all seemed enough to sway Carlos Santana into making wholesale changes in preparation for Santana's next phase of activity. As a result, a full year after 'Moonflower' 'Inner Secrets' was released, thus beginning a gruelling three-and-a-half decade-long artistic and commercial decline. They would release one more album during the 1970's, with the undistinguished 'Marathon' picking up where it's predecessor left off, before seriously losing the plot during the 1980's with a series of dreadful album covers adorning some almost- as-dreadful AOR albums. With their audience shrinking and each album consistently selling less copies than the last, synthesizers were introduced on 1985's desperate 'Beyond Appearances' and maintained for 1987's almost-as-flavourless 'Freedom', the group by now hovering desperately close to rock bottom. 'Spirits Dancing In The Flesh'(1990) and 'Milagro'(1992) failed to reverse the trend, and by 1993 Santana finally seemed done, the challenge of Nirvana and grunge almost beyond them. Of course, we all know what happened next - thanks Clive Davis and Arista - but we also know what happened between 1968 and 1977 when Santana produced some of the finest rock albums of the era. However, before you buy 'Inner Secrets', think about the chain of albums it set in motion, and realize that this is by no means the Santana we all knew and loved on 'Abraxas', 'Caravanserai' and 'Welcome'. Whilst 'Welcome' is seen as probably the last 'great' Santana album, 'Amigos' and 'Festival' can jointly be seen as the last decent Santana studio efforts. Both, of course, featured a slightly commercial slant, but they remained true to the jazz-fusion course set by it's predecessors and are both well worth a place in any proper Santana collection. They might not have been classics, but they positively kick-ass when compared to the soulless mainstream stuff found on 'Inner Secrets', an album that really did signal the beginning of the end. To put it finely, this is a cynical slice of corporate rock, a Santana record in name only. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2013

stefro | 1/5 |


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