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Santana - Caravanserai CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.23 | 709 ratings

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5 stars "The body melts into the universe. The universe melts into the soundless voice. The sound melts into the all-shining light. And the light enters the bosom of infinite joy". From "Metaphisycal Meditations" by Paramahansa Yogananda (and published on the inner sleeve design).

I purchased this album in 1973 and my expectations were quite high after the wonderful Santana III (and I, and Abraxas...). Needless to say that these will be met.

The opener "Eternal Caravan of Reincarnation" is not a fave of mine ("Singing Winds, Crying Beasts", the Abraxas opener was already pretty much similar). I wonder who decided to have this one as an opener...The start is mysterious, with sounds (supposedly) coming out of the desert but the quite slow and jazzy pace never lifts off. One of the two poorest Caranvanserai track without any doubt.

"Waves Within" is a pure latin-rock piece with extremely powerful guitar and keyboards. The rythmic section is just fabulous. The track could have investigated a bit more since it ends rather abruptedly. "Look Up" is very nice as well : very much in the Santana style of the era : rhythm, guitars, melody and good keys from Gregg. "Just In Time" is the first great track of this album but it's a pity it is so short (this remark also applies to the two previous songs). It is the first song featuring vocals but just over two minutes have always left me dissatisfied...

Second of this type, "Song of the Wind" is a wonderful instrumental written here by a magical trio (Rolie, Santana, Schon). It has more than flavours with "Samba Pa Ti" and the later "Europa". Great emotions and feelings in this song. It is "the" highlight of this album and IMO it is also one of the best Santana song ever written. A real latin-rock masterpiece (whatever this may mean ...). Carlos and Neil at the height of their emotional guitar play : over six minutes of pure joy.

Side one of the original LP closes with the very good "All The Love Of The Universe" written by Santana / Schon. It gives even more regrets that Neal will leave. Who knows what they could have achieved together ? It is one of the long tracks of the album which allows to develop the song just as it deserved. Good vocals, brilliant rythmic section and fantastic guitar in the second part. Gregg's part in the last portion of the song is just superb. Another highlight on this excellent side one.

"Future Primitive" is quite boring in its initial phase and then kicks a bit : latin rythms and lots of percussion. This is no wonder since the song was composed by the percussionist duet Areas / Lewis. The song ends like it started : boring. It is the second filler of the album and considering that it is a quite lenghty one (over fifty-one minutes) Santana could have easily forgot each side's first track and still produce a wonder of over forty minutes (the standard in the industry at the time)...

"Stone Flower" is my second favorite on Caravanserai. Another great example of the strong bass / congas & bongos mix so typical for Santana at the time. The finale, introduced on piano by Wendy Haas is just great. Another ... highlight (one more should I say). "La Fuente del Ritmo" is a latin rock jam with an orgy of rythm and guitar frenesy.

The last track is a fantastic piece of music. It also shows the influence of Mike Shrieve on the band : this song (one of the best on this album, (well, another one...) is composed exclusively by him. He will co-write four songs in total and will also co- produced the album (with Carlos). It is really rewarding for a drum player to be placed such in evidence.

This contribution is a pure jewel. the intro of "Every Step of the Way" (about three minutes) is full of percussion but not with a wild tempo. It builds crescendo (what I appreciate quite a lot) and leads again to a wonderful and rythmy work, dominated by the fabulous guitars.

This album will be the last one in which Gregg Rolie will be involved. His input has been HUGE during the four Santana albums. He contributed to almost half of the songs so far (sixteen out of thirty-seven to be precise). IMO, he will NEVER be replaced and Santana will sound quite different after his departure. Thank you very much Greg for these FABULOUS moments.

On January 11th, 2007, Rolie, Carabello, Shrieve and Carlos reunited for a benefit concert. I cannot resist in posting the review of this magical moment : "When he (Carlos) returned, carrying incense and reading some more remarks, to join the Gregg Rolie Band, which already included the percussion battery of Santana conga player Michael Carabello and Adrian Areas, son of the original Santana timbales player, he was further surrounded by Santana drummer Michael Shrieve as they launched "Black Magic Woman," the band's breakthrough hit.

At one point during the piece's instrumental passage, out of nowhere, the timbales went off like detonating grenades. The band's original percussion madman had taken over the set from his son. Even the other band members watched with looks of amazement as Chepito attacked the drums. When the number ended, he rushed to the center of the stage and wrapped both Rolie and Santana in long hugs before stumbling off the stage wiping tears from his eyes.

It would be incredible (but not really bound to happen) to get a reunion of this legendary line-up. To be complete, Neil Schon joined the Rolie band for a number as well ! What an evening ! How nice to see that these guys could cope together again !

For this rating, I will forget the two weakest track of this legendary album and do as if they didn't exist (sorry for that). I guess that my Mexican wife would share my rating : Five stars. It is the first time I have rated four successive albums of the same band with five stars. I'm not sure whether there will be a second one. IMO there's not a single prog moment in here. Great latino-rock music (and a bit - but not really much of jazzy essays).

ZowieZiggy | 5/5 |


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