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Santana - Borboletta CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.66 | 172 ratings

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Man With Hat
3 stars A tale of two albums.

I'm not exactly sure what was going through Santana's mind when he put together this album. On one hand, you have an excellent batch of interesting Latin flavored jazz-rock tunes with fiery solos and the focal point clearly on the music. However, on the other you have a fairly large dose of droll mid 70s pop-rock/pop-jazzrock tunes that take Santana's commercial aspect to a new high (or low depending on your point of view). Luckily for this album, the former slightly outweighs the latter and what you have here is a schizophrenic album that is half deserving of high marks and half deserving to only be enjoyed by people who like commercial music.

First the good. Tracks like Canto De Los Flores, Promise of a Fisherman, and Aspirations show a wonderful side of Santana's music. A steady percussive background, attention grabbing and extended solos, focus on the music itself, and at times risk taking, all wrapped up in a jazz-rock atmosphere (that contains the best of the business). This is best exemplified with the final 'suite' of Here And Now through Promise Of A Fisherman (with Borboletta acting as a lovely coda to my ears). Within these 15 minutes contains all the promise and expertise that Santana can display (and I assume the fuel to get this band added to the archives). Unfortunately, there is also a fair amount of material that takes the other side of the coin. Non adventurous, lyric driven, saccharine, fairly monotonous overall, and rather bland. Songs like Life is Anew, One With the Sun, and Mirage are probably the greatest offenders in this area. Then you have Practice What You Preach, which starts off as a wonderful jazz stew and then morphs it's way into poppy jazz-rock fluff. This also leads me to another problem I have with this album. It almost feels incomplete to my ears. Like Practice What You Preach for sounds as if it's edited down from a 'full' studio version. As if the opening musical landscape could return but then the fade out begins without any real fulfillment to my ears. The title track also feels a bit 'cut-off', as do others with the infamous fadeout. That is probably my biggest concern with this album...that it could have been so much more than what the final product is.

All in all, this is an average album. When it's good, it's great. When it's bad, it's quite poor. Without all the pop faff, this would easily be a 4.5-5 star album (even though it would be quite a bit shorter and more of an EP). But, how it is presented I can only give it a 3 star rating. (Sidenote: As I re-read this review it does seem like I'm a bit harsh on Borboletta. So I just wanted to add that there is some really good stuff on this album that anyone with a taste of the jazz world would enjoy.) This is by no means one of Santana's stronger albums all things considered, and would be a stretch to my ears to call it essential or even a great addition to any prog rock music collection. Don't start here, but if you're a fan of the band it would probably be worthy to pick this up at some point. 3 stars.

Man With Hat | 3/5 |


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