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Santana - Santana IV CD (album) cover

SANTANA IV

Santana

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.83 | 65 ratings

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Progfan97402
4 stars I have not bothered with any recent Santana releases, in fact the most recent Santana album I own is Moonflower. So I was surprised to see much of the original Woodstock band is back for this, Santana IV. All except David Brown, who unfortunately passed away in 2000, and Jose Chepito Areas, for some reason or another couldn't be present. Neil Schon, though not an original member of the original band, makes a reappearance (it seems that Schon's guitar playing has a more distorted feel, and Santana's has a more clean tone, which applies for Santana III way back in 1971 as well). For the most part I found it surprisingly enjoyable. I love the album cover, it's very reminiscent of their 1969 debut, except now it's a tiger, rather than a lion. The LP version is embossed, with the Santana logo and the sharp fangs and eyes being embossed. To me it sounds like, well, more or less, an updated version of the original Santana band, basically with modern production values. "Yambu" has a rather distinctly African feel to it, while the next two songs "Shake It" and "Anywhere You Want to Go" is just plain great songs, even Gregg Rolie still delivering that trademark organ (although I'm sure he's using a more modern organ these days). Big surprise: "Fillmore East", obviously in honor of the venue in New York (I'm surprised it wasn't called "Fillmore West" given Santana's San Francisco origins). Santana goes a completely unexpected direction in the the world of Krautrock-influenced space rock. It's as if Carlos Santana (and perhaps Neal Schon) was channeling Manuel Gottsching. Listening to this, you'd wonder if you were listening to Ash Ra Tempel, Agitation Free or Amon Duul II. It's completely not what I expect out of Santana, but I love it. I have no idea how aware Carlos Santana is of the German scene, so for all I know, it's pure coincidence. Lovers of space rock need to hear this! Minor chords seem a bit rare in Santana, given its frequent upbeat manner, but here minor chords dominate, and it gives that spacy, eerie, ominous feel I don't usually associate with Santana. The next two songs, "Love Makes the World Go Round" and "Freedom Around the World" feature Ronald Isley (Isley Brothers, naturally), and while soul music isn't my music of choice, these two songs are surprisingly good, especially because it still has that wonderful Latin rock energy you expect out of Santana. "Caminando" is generally a great song, but I could do without those digitally replicated horn (sounds like it was from a workstation synth) which seems a bit tacky. "Blues Magic", is unsurprisingly a bluesy song, and a rather good one. I really felt the album runs out of steam towards the end though, and the last four songs are nothing to write home about. "Come As You Are" has a bit of a Calypso feel going on, and to be honest it's not to my liking. "Forgiveness" just seems like a rather self-indulgent number, although when the vocals kick in, it reminds me of Peter Gabriel. It's like the band sorta ran out of inspiration towards the end, but that's a common problem with double album sets. I have to say, when this album is great, it's wonderful. It might not reach the highs of the first three albums, but it's certainly a hellova lot better than having to put up with "Smooth" being overplayed to death on the radio (the big reason I never bought Supernatural, that, and the over-reliance on alternative rock and contemporary R&B musicians). So I'm glad it's not some star-studded cast found here like on Supernatural (only Ronald Isley was the major guest on Santana IV). A rather good album and worth having, even with a couple of weak numbers. Plus it has "Fillmore East" for all you space rock junkies.
Progfan97402 | 4/5 |

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