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Santana - Santana CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.13 | 409 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Distracting sleeve alert!

Santana's debut album dates from 1969, and as such would fit neatly into the proto-prog category. This is a mix of guitar led semi-improvised instrumentals, and more orthodox pop fare with dominant vocals. These are bound together by ever present Latin rhythms, and some fine organ work by Gregg Rolie.

There is an energy and excitement to the album which carries along the weaker tracks, and positively drives the better ones. Tracks such as "Waiting", "Jingo" and "Savor" all follow a similar pattern of mixing repetitive beats with bursts of virtuoso guitar. When the pace is dropped, and more orthodox drumming is used (such as on "You just don't care"), the influence of Jimi Hendrix is much more perceptible.

While the dominant Latin rhythms are what defines the album's character, it is in fact what we now know as jazz-fusion which is the underlying style. I find the incessant Latin backing, especially the congas, can become tiresome but there is no denying the excellence of the guitar work.

From a prog perspective, this album is more about the foundations it laid than any suggestion that there is much in the way of actual prog here. While this is not really the type of music I would spend a lot of time listening to, the album is undoubtedly a landmark recording. Every prog fan should at least be aware of Santana's debut release, and preferably should hear it at least once, as it will help them to understand the development of the genre to which this site is dedicated.

By the way, the apparent image of an open mouthed lion on the sleeve reveals itself on inspection to also be a scantily clad lady with a grass skirt on.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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