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Santana - Abraxas CD (album) cover

ABRAXAS

Santana

Jazz Rock/Fusion


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Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
4 stars 4,5 stars really!!!!

This second album is just as much a stunner as their debut album was, but now comes also ijn a delightful and unrepentantly ethnic gatefold drawn by the same person who graced one other great album: Miles' Bitches Brew. It was also the first to be graced with that superb logo as well. With an unchanged line-up, Santana is definitely veering towards jazz- rock and they reach a first peak in their career (there will be many more) and this album is among my all time classics too.

From the first gusts of winds (cymbals scratchings) of Singing Winds to the latino El Nicoya, this albumis another perfect example of fusion. From the jazz-rock of the instrumental Singing Winds and the delighfully sunf Black Magic Woman (yes, the Fleetwood Mac early classic) to the latino hits such as Se A Cabo, Oye Como Va and others, is there any space for all out RnR? Well get a load of Hope You're Feeling Better or Mother's Daughter, to get your answer: this album kicks ass as well.

Compare to its predecessor, there are aspects of this album that have not aged as well, but it is defintely more jazz-rock than it. Another must-have from Santana and the remastered version comes with three great live tracks from that same year.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#95612)
Posted Wednesday, October 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
infandous@exc
4 stars Well, this album is the one everyone hears (or, at least, should hear). In spite of the hits, it is a great album. There is no denying the guitar skills of Carlos, though he probably isn't in the same league as the "technicians" of prog. But what he may lack in shredding technique, he makes up for in pure emotion and feeling. No one can or does play like him. This album is just one of the earliest proofs of that. I don't own this one anymore, but it is certainly worth hearing. Not sure I'd call it prog though.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#95747)
Posted Thursday, October 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars The year 1970 turned out to be the Santana year: the Woodstock movie was a huge commercial success and it showcased an inspired and exciting Santana performance, the single Evil Ways from their eponymous debut LP became a #10 hit in the USA (it sold more than 2 million copies) and the new, eagerly awaited album entitled Abraxas peaked the USA Billboard Album Top 100 chart.

For me Abraxas is the Santana band at their creative peak with an important role for conga/timbales player Jose Areas Chipito who taught the members how to phrase in latin music (like cha-cha and merengue). Most of the nine original songs on this album sound swinging and exciting, driven by the 'Holy Latin Rock Trinity': Santana his flowing and emotional guitarwork, Rolie his powerful Hammond organ and the propulsive percussion by Areas (conga/timbales) and Carabello (conga). The best examples are the tracks Oye Como Va (pleasant dance song with great work on guitar and organ), Incident At Neshabur (many varied atmospheres featuring a swirling Hammond solo, senstive guitar play and a jazzy piano solo) and in El Nicoya the focus is on the percussion, how exciting! In the song Hope Your're Feeling Better we can enjoy the distinctive, a bit raw vocals by Gregg Rolie, heavy Hammond waves and Jimi Hendrix inspired wah-wah guitar by Santana. But my two highlights remain the most known songs Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen (excellent break and wonderful guitar work with sustain and tremolo) and of course Samba Pa Ti that sounds like 'latin-bluesrock' with lush Hammond waves and beautiful build-up guitar play, very moving! My 'limited edition digipak' CD version delivers a FOC with 3 live bonustracks entitled Se A Cabo, Toussaint L'Overture and Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen (all with a special 'on stage' flavor) and a 12-page booklet with interesting liner notes and photos.

AN ESSENTIAL MASTERPIECE IN PROGRESSIVE ROCK HISTORY!!

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Send comments to erik neuteboom (BETA) | Report this review (#97013)
Posted Friday, November 03, 2006 | Review Permalink
Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The formula from their debut was brought to perfection on its follow-up, "Abraxas". There is simply not a weak moment on this album. "Black Magic Woman" (much better than the original of Peter Green), "Oye Como Va", "Samba Pa Ti", "Se a Cabo" and "Incident at Neshabur" helped practically invent the whole new "Santana" music genre. Yes, it was and still is highly popular and commercial, but that cannot diminish the fact that the music provided here was very original, inventive, emotional and played with confident and heart. And even more important, it passed the test of time. "Abraxas" belongs to a legion of the best rock and even "progressive rock" (taken in a broader sense) albums of the era.

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Send comments to Seyo (BETA) | Report this review (#97731)
Posted Wednesday, November 08, 2006 | Review Permalink
Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Same line up as their debut but this is an instant five star masterpiece. No contest. From the hurried sounding first track of ' Singing Winds, Crying Beasts ' to the classic singing chorus on ' Black Magic Woman'. This is probably their most popular song up to the Supernatural album of 1999.' Oye Como Va' has a great looping vocals with nice congas and percussion feel to the song as is ' Se a Cabo' a bit later on. ' Samba Pa Ti' the most nostalgic melancholic instrumental on the album is followed by the rocking ' Hope Your'e feeling better'. This album defined the distinctive sound Santana had for the next two decades and beyond. There were line up changes aplenty but few of their albums could match the greatness of Abraxas. Great cover artwork also.

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Send comments to Chris S (BETA) | Report this review (#104714)
Posted Wednesday, December 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Absolute milestone in latino flavoured jazz-rock. The opener ' Singing Winds,Crying Beasts ' is a nice, with a lot of percussion permeated instrumental which main I would say historic role was to lead us to the famous organ intro of Peter Green's immortal blues evergreen which moderate tempo unexpectedly turns into furious latin jazz-rock finale. ' Oye Como Va ' is full of latin pulse, while ' Incident At Neshabur ' jazziest track on the album intrigues wit plenty of tempo changes. From side two I'd highlight anthological ' Samba Pa Ti ' instrumental and a follower ' Hope You're Feeling Better ' with its strong, almost hard rocking structure. Although subsequent two albums were of a similar quality, personally I look on Abraxas as Santana's creative peak.

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Send comments to bsurmano (BETA) | Report this review (#105592)
Posted Thursday, January 04, 2007 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars My two hundredth review on PA coincides with a fabulous album.

This was the first album I purchased. Back in January 1971. As an almost twelve years old boy, I was entering the world of giants (Led Zep, Deep Purple, Santana, Ten Years After, The Who and Hendrix were my faves at that time). My Santana experience so far was their fantastic performance at Woodstock with "Soul Sacrifice - The Soundtrack". No full version, no remastering. Just over eight minutes of pure glory.

I was at a glance quite found of the cover artwork from Abraxas : the incredible "Black Magic Woman" and the very erotic "Angel" were rather hypnotic for me (I was only twelve if you see what I mean). It' is difficult to tell how many HOURS I looked at it ! The inside cover was a shot from the band during a concert. It is to be noticed that at this time of their career, the front line on stage was represented by Gregg, David (on bass) and the congas/timbales duo (Michael Carabello and José Chepito Areas). Carlos being a bit behind.

In terms of composition, it is a band effort. Carlos contributing to only two tracks ("Incident At Neshabur" and "Samba Pa'Ti"). Carabello will compose one ("Singing Winds, Crying Beast"). Gregg will participate with "Mother's Daughter" and "Hope You're Feeling Better". Chepito wrote two songs "Se A Cabo" and "El Nicoya".

The opener "Singing Winds, Crying Beasts" has always been impregnated with mystery. It's a jazzy track which sounds as an improv. Smooth feeling, subtle piano work and lots of gong sounds. Still, this opener has never been my cup of tea.

Of course, from the next song onwards, the story is completely different. The cover song "Black Magic Woman-Gypsy Queen" is one of the highlight here (but there are more, don't worry). One of my old-time Santana faves (but I guess I have about twenty of them). Anyway : a great track. It will be immortalized by Santana (peaking at Nr. 4 on the Billboard) while the original version from Fleetwood Mac only reached the 37th spot in the UK chart. It was inspired by Gabor Szabo's "Gypsy Queen" written in 1967. Guitar work is gorgeous. The so typical vocals from Gregg : he sings as a black while being a white ! He will say that it took him one year to convince the band to perform the song ! "Nobody wanted to play it". Carlos will mention : "We played that song for the very first time at a sound check and we saw what it did to people there. So we played it that evening".

As the leading latin-rock band of the time, I guess they had to produce a pure latino hit and they achieved it with "Oye Como Va ? - "Hey ! How Are You Doing ?) which is a cover as well of a number written by Ernesto "Tito" Puente (in 1962), the king of the timbales.The finale is a great guitar solo from the master. This hit-single will peak at Nr. 13 in the US charts.

The next song " Incident at Neshabur" is not one of their best known song BUT I can tell you, it is a great tune : fantastic rythm, great work from Gregg Rolie, and a fully emotional guitar play during the last part of the song which will only be surpassed by ... well, I will tell you in a few lines.

B-side starts with "Se A Cabo" - (It Is All Over), from "Chepito". It is a rageous number with great percussions work from Areas, Carabello and Shrieve.

"Mother's Daughter" is just in line : good vocals (although this album is mostly instrumental), and as always a fantastic drums/ congas / timbales part. It is a hard and violent track which reminds me of "You Just Don't Care" from their first album. Bass play is great as well.

With the first few notes from the next one, I knew I was entering into something VERY special. OK, it is the most radio played Santana tune : so what ? Here and there, they will produced great (or average) live renditions of it. Yes, man. I am talking about "Samba Pa' Ti" - Samba For You". I will use a quote to highlight Carlos's guitar play in general : when Clapton was asked which was the guitar player he liked the most, he answered : "Carlos Santana. Because he is the most emotional one".

I can tell you, when you listen to this masterpiece (and potentially for the oldest ones of you like myself if you have ever danced with a beloved one) you will definetely agree.

Next song "Hope You're Feeling Better" has always been one of my Abraxas fave although it does not belong to their classic repertoire. Hard as well like "Mother's Daughter". The middle part has always bring me to another level (it's quite complicated to describe, though). Try and dicover it is my only recommendation.

"El Nicoya" is, by far, the weakest track and should have been avoided. Fortunately, it only lasts for 1'39".

As a Santana fan, I purchased the remastered CD version with three bonus tracks. these are live recordings from two Abraxas songs : "Se A Cabo" (average) and "Black Magic Woman-Gypsy Queen" (great rendition). They were recordedat The Royal Albert Hall on April 18th, 1970. The last track "Toussaint l'Overture" will be one of the many fabulous tracks from Santana III.

Santana is on his way to glory. Immediately. Carlos will say "All of a sudden, you had a bunch of kids who, next thing you know, were going to New York and hanging out with Miles Davis and all these incredible musicians, coexisting with Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and The Who". Gregg will add : "At the time, it was just unbelievable that it was all happening, going from obscurity to everybody knowing who you are. I never got into this scene very much, it was like watching yourself going through it. I could never catch up to where I was".

About the Abraxas sound, Carlos will tell : "We did change rapidly because we had to; we had to learn fast to keep up. All the material we played on the first album, we were playing for three or four years already, so all of a sudden we had to go hunt for or create new songs".

Who knows when (or even if) they will release a "Legacy Edition" for "Abraxas" like they did for their first album (I would love this to happen). The album entered the US chart in October 1970. It will peak at Nr. 1 for six weeks and will stay in the charts for 88 weeks.

I rate this effort with five stars. IMO there is not one prog moment in here. Just fantastic music.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#110668)
Posted Sunday, February 04, 2007 | Review Permalink
Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The dreaded sophomore jinx did not bother to screw with Santana. It didn't even glance in their direction. If anyone thought that their debut was some kind of fluke novelty they were sadly mistaken for "Abraxas" went on to sell over 4 million units and hold the number one position on the album charts for six weeks. While still wise enough to know the importance and necessity of producing hit singles, this time they started to show signs that they were interested in adding a jazz element to their spicy mix of styles.

The mysterious melding of wind chimes, piano and guitar is a great way to build tension and expectations and conga player Mike Carabello's "Singing Winds, Crying Beasts" does just that. Greg Rolie's tastefully understated Rhodes piano chording is perfect for the atmospheric mood they create on this instrumental. Someone obviously did their homework and realized that Peter Green (of Fleetwood Mac) had a catchy song that was just waiting for someone to cover and have a huge hit with. "Black Magic Woman" has such an easy-flowing, danceable rhythm and Carlos Santana's supremely melodic guitar lines make the tune irresistible. The spectacular and genius transition into double- time for Gabor Szabo's "Gypsy Queen" just makes it that much more exciting. Next you get Tito Puente's infectious "Oye Como Va" with dynamic percussion, fluid Hammond organ and stinging guitar creating some very hot salsa. As a single it climbed to #13 and is an extremely rare instance where a song not sung in English was a hit in the USA. I don't think it would have made any difference if it had been sung in Swahili, to be honest. "Incident at Neshabur" shows you that Santana's future would find them exploring deeper and deeper into jazz/rock fusion. After a jazzy beginning it segues into a heavy rock riff and then blends the two into a high spirited movement where Rolie's organ work shines. Halfway through it drops into a peaceful spell with Carlos using controlled feedback on his guitar to great effect before guest musician Alberto Gianquinto (who co-wrote the song with Mr. Santana) adds some eloquent piano. It's the high point of the album for me. Percussionist Chepito Areas' "Se A Cabo" sounds like it starts up where "Soul Sacrifice" left off on the first album. The guitar is great but the individual performances on congas and timbales are out of this world. The band still had a foot in the rock and roll arena, however, and Greg Rolie's "Mother's Daughter" and "Hope You're Feeling Better" are both decent rockers and he sings them well but they sound slightly out of place here. Another gem on this album is Carlos' "Samba Pa Ti," a gorgeous instrumental where he allows his guitar to sing a delicate melody over some soulful Hammond organ, creating as fine a love song as you'll ever hear. Even after the pace picks up the guitar soars like an eagle to the end. It's an inspiring piece of music. Chepito Areas contributes the final tune, "El Nicoya," where he, drummer Michael Shrieve and Mike Carabello put on a percussion clinic that will tear your head off.

In addition to all this great music add a stunning album cover and you have an instant classic on your hands. While their exciting and legendary debut seemed a little raw, "Abraxas" showed they desired to make a more deliberate and well-crafted attempt to create a work of art. It's not perfect by any means but Santana was still in the process of finding their niche in the music world while turning it upside down in the process. All in all it's just a damn good album.

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Send comments to Chicapah (BETA) | Report this review (#114211)
Posted Sunday, March 04, 2007 | Review Permalink
Chris H
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Now I don't usually do this in a review, but I am going to start off by being very blunt. This album is a good album all by itself, but in comparison it just does not stack up with some of the other Santana albums. Maybe it is the frequent airplay of "Black Magic Woman" and "Oye Como Va", but the world may never know that. Now where was I? Oh right, the review:

Side 1, wait there was a side 1? I must have fallen asleep and missed it. That just shows you how much of a lasting impact it has on the listener. Sure it is good music, but it seems like just random noise when you look back and analyze it. It just doesn't grab you and hold you like a lot of Santana's works to come. I must say that they did get "Oye Como Va" right, however. Written by Tito Puentes originally, the solo presented here was one of Santana's finest early works. Side 2 is a huge improvement over side 1, and it really saves this album from being a complete write-off. "Se A Cabo" is just an intense fury of percussions and strings and unlike the first side, this grips you and just doesn't let go. The vocals are a tad disjointed, but luckily there are only about 4 lines of singing. "Mother's Daughter" is an excellent blues song, one of my two favorites from the album. Great guitar work here. "Samba Pa Ti" is another very Latin oriented track thrown in there, and it just seems kind of rambling to me. The highlight of this album to me is "Hope You're Feeling Better", at least in my eyes. the guitars sound very industrial with some short and quick riffs, while the singing is absolutely intense. "El Nicoya" ends the album, and trust me when I say that it is just noise for the sake of noise. Really.

The main thing about this album is the fact that it is the first album to show that Santana as a group is a team effort. Carlos himself only contributes one song, and I much prefer the works of Gregg Rolie to Santana here. Also, amazing cover art. I know it doesn't mean much, but when side 1 is boring you at least you can stare at the cover.

3 stars. Overly ambitious but still mediocre.

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Send comments to Chris H (BETA) | Report this review (#114849)
Posted Sunday, March 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpää
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars For me the greatest accomplishments of Carlos Santana were his late 1960's live performances captured to both 1969 Woodstock and 1970 San Francisco's Family Dog events, and followed by the collaborative solo works with John McLaughlin and Alice Coltrane. The discography of psychedelic pop rock pulsing with hot blood of Latin energies he released did not please me as much, though there are some pleasant qualities found on the records. The album from 1970 is possibly most known of them, denying to be left unnoticed from the record shelf by the striking vision of Mati Klarwein's painting "Annunciation" used on the album cover. Painted already on the early 1960's, Carlos was charmed by it and asked for possibility to have it on the record sleeve. This agreement was possibly a fruitful decision for both artists, the best-selling record giving fame also for the surrealist painter. The album itself has some pleasant atmospherics sound walls, and the guitar of Carlos cries beautifully on ethereal mood-creation sequences and accessible hit songs, most notably compositions like "Black Magic Woman" crafted with Peter Green, the joyful dancing tune "Oye Como Va" and slow romantic curves of "Samba Pa Ti". Somehow I personally felt still disappointed with this music, my mind contaminated by the purer spiritual musical expression found from his collaborative albums like "Illuminations" and "Love Devotion Surrender". The forthcoming "Caravanserai" record was more interesting album focusing to a full album length thematic aural journey, but this record has its own pop charms still certainly, and I understand the success it has gained during the years. Though not a soundtrack for contemplating the melancholic meaning of the world, a vivid album for the fun having and rejoicing the love of life with more direct approach.

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Send comments to Eetu Pellonpää (BETA) | Report this review (#119226)
Posted Saturday, April 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
Zitro
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars 4.5 Stars

Abraxas may be a very commercial album, but this isn't "Supernatural". This is Santana magically mixing accessibility, dance-like qualities, innovation, complexity, virtuosity, and emotion into a latin-rock masterpiece. The first song is an improvisational latin-jazz fusion track with scarce but brilliant guitar notes over a groovy latin rhythm. "Incident at Neshabur", "Mother's Daughter", and "Hope You're Feeling better" are outstanding classic rock songs with unforgettable hooks and main riffs.. "Se a Cabo" and "Samba Pa Ti" are great instrumentals; a fast-paced rhythmic tune and a romantic and emotional one respectively. "Black Magic Woman" and "Oye Como Va" are the great hits. Black Magic Woman starts generally soft with great melodies and arrangements and ends in a louder and more energetic jam. "Oye Como Va" is driven by a Hammond organ riff and is insanely catchy and danceable. It has to be a great song to become a monstrous hit even though it is sang in a foreign language. It is regarded as a classic in the music of its kind.

The rating is rounded up because I never heard music of this kind to exceed the quality presented here. Best album of its kind from my musical knowledge. I highly recommend you to check this album.

1_Singing Winds, Crying Beasts (A-)

2_Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen (A)

3_Oye Como Va (A+)

4_Incident at Neshabur (A)

5_Se a Cabo (B+)

6_Mother's Daughter (A-)

7_Samba Pa Ti (B+)

8_Hope You're Feeling Better (A+)

9_El Nicoya (C )

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Send comments to Zitro (BETA) | Report this review (#119983)
Posted Friday, April 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Recording in the summer of 1970, Santana set out to craft their second record, collaborating with new friends (among them, Fleetwood Mac's Peter Green, the author of "Black Magic Woman"). Their first effort had been recorded in a matter of weeks and had become an overwhelming commercial and critical success. Now, with the pressure of success upon them, they released "Abraxas" - it yielded two huge singles, became a number one album, and took the band to the next plateau of superstardom. [CD back cover liner note].

By the time this album was released I was not quite sure on what album was all about because I was (at my childhood) only aware popular songs "Black Magic Woman" and "Oye Como Va" which were very obvious being covered by local bands at the time. But when later this album was remastered, I purchased it and had a chance to enjoy the full album. I must agree that this is an excellent album which features Santana's virtuosity in playing his guitar with distinctive sounds. From the opening track ""Singing Winds, Crying Beasts" (4:48) I can tell how excellent the music is from the richness of composition, varied textures and explorative guitar work combined with Gregg Rollie's keyboard work. The keyboard style reminds me to the jazz music, similar with what John Paul Jones did with "No Quarter" at Led Zeppelin's album. It flows beautifully with "Black Magic Woman / Gypsy Queen" (5:17) where I enjoy the bass lines and percussion in addition to keyboard and guitar work. It must be certain that anyone listens to this track will love it to the bone because the melody and the beats are excellent. "Oye Como Va" (4:17) is another pop hit experienced during childhood.

"Incident At Neshabur" (4:58) has a jazz style combined with rock beats and percussion. The keyboard solo and bass lines are excellent and dynamic. It flows toa n upbeat "Se a Cabo" (2:49) where the guitar, keyboard and percussion work hand in hand in upbeat style. "Mother's Daughter" (4:25) is a good track that showcases Santana's virtuosity in guitar playing. "Samba Pa Ti" (4:46) is a mellow track with bluesy style. "Hope You're Feeling Better" (4:10) is an excellent track combining latin rock and classic (vintage) rock.

Overall, this is an excellent addition to any rock music collection.

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#121049)
Posted Monday, May 07, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars If Pink Floyd is prog then Santana is progressive prog! LOL!

Anyway......

I first listened to this recording when I was 10 or 11 years old. It was given to me by my dad's cousin, a guy who had an extensive record collection(to put it mildly). I will say this, to wrap things up in a nutshell: In retrospect, this recording and ELP's Tarkus have been THE MOST influential records I've ever listened to. So perhaps my review of Abraxas is a bit tainted.

I say this because right about the time I was cranking up Abraxas I began to take piano and organ lessons. Undoubtedly Greg Rollies' playing on Abraxas was my biggest influence during that time period. Looking back, Rollie was my first keyboard hero.

This record EASILY earns FIVE stars. However, I will note that to those who don't particularly like latin music(ie salsa beats and other conga driven percussive styles) you may find the recording less than stellar. On the other hand, if you've "progressed" beyond rock and moved on to fusion styles encompassing jazz, latin and african music forms, then Abraxas should be a MANDATORY listen.

Abraxas was "world music" before the term was invented. Josef Zawinul would like to take credit for inventing "world music", and I'd hate to argue with ol' Joe, but certainly Santana, and particularly on Abraxas, makes a case for the Mexican kid from SF as being a co- inventor!

Without going into too much detail about every piece on this album, suffice to say that EVERY song is EXCELLENT, with some being flat-out MASTERPIECES. This record offers everything from searing guitar solos to the most beautiful balad(Samba Pa Ti) and some of THE MOST important keyboard(Hammond B-3 in particular) work EVER put on tape(yes, kids, tape not hard disk!).

I'd recommend this CD to every prog fan, from every walk of life. I'm biased toward the keys because I'm a keyboardist, and Rollie's work on Abraxas is up there with ANYTHING by Emerson; but in a latin/blues setting.

If you like percussion you will be blown away by Chepito Area's conga work. Sublime is an understatement.

And of course, Carlos.....what can you say! Abraxas is a museum piece for tasteful electric guitar. No shredding here; just beautiful solos and solid comping by a modern guitar master.

***** FIVE stars. A masterpiece of progressive music.

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Send comments to jrfernan (BETA) | Report this review (#122692)
Posted Friday, May 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
SoundsofSeasons
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 3.5 stars, actually!

What is it about the sound of latin percussion execuded in such a splendid and fantastic way, that gets to me? What do they do right? Well many things but its all the percussion that really do it for me, because they are so flavorful its actually tasty. Like spicey even. The psychedelic keyboards go perfectly with this up-beat latin vibe. Some problems come, however, from the slow down toward the middle of the album however, and the music isn't particularly technical by any means. The great thing is though, even when a song does slow down for a bit and get soft, it will ususally hold your attention just as well, and they know for how long they can stay soft before you need a kick once again.

It's a beautiful sounding album that feels as artistic as the cover on the front, but the slowdown and boredom may set in toward the middle of the album. Still an great addition to your music collection nonetheless, especially if you enjoy latin percussion like i do.

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Send comments to SoundsofSeasons (BETA) | Report this review (#130610)
Posted Saturday, July 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
Flucktrot
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Fortunately for me, my dad had a vinyl of this album, and I knew how to operate the table. It's possibly insignificant, but I also noticed the multiple "boobies" on the cover. Any way you slice it, I liked this album a lot back then, and I like it just as much today. No matter his future blunders, Santana will always have a special place for me because of this album.

Singing Winds, Crying Beasts, Black Magic Woman. Just another case of the classic rock stations not getting it right: Black Magic Woman is SO much better when you hear the opener. Either way, the band is incredibly tight here: awesome percussion, bass, and of course guitar. If the finale doesn't get your feet tapping, you have been listening to too much GBYE!

Oye Como Va. A classic rock and pop stalwart. Good stuff.

Incident at Neshabur. A rocking start leads to a mellow finish. Great way to close out the album side.

Se a Cabo, Mother's Daughter. Santana start out this side as if they are going to rock throughout, but unfortunately it is deceiving. Either way, these songs ROCK, and the excellence of the first side is mostly continued. Carlos really lets loose on the solo for Mother's Daughter.

Semba Pa Ti. Nice mellow instrumental. Now we know (if we didn't before) that Carlos can play.

Hope You're Feeling Better. A rocker that probably fits better on Santana's debut album. Good stuff, but not progressive.

This album has some rocking and energetic pieces, though unfortunately the A side is superior to the B side. Any classic rock enthusiast will already have this, but I think prog aficionados will also find plenty to enjoy. Tied with Caravanserai in terms of progressive contribution according to me. Find it, rock out, and be happy.

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Send comments to Flucktrot (BETA) | Report this review (#136668)
Posted Friday, September 07, 2007 | Review Permalink
ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk Researcher
5 stars Is this the first popular world-music album? Who knows – maybe. ‘Abraxas’ is one of those records, along with stuff like ‘Frampton Comes Alive’ and ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ and ‘Rumours’ that belongs in every music collection. Doesn’t really matter what kind of music fan you are, this one fits in your stacks. Preferably on vinyl. Regrettably my copy is a CD, but at least it’s the 30th anniversary edition with some bonus live tracks and several great vintage photos of the band. And a crystal clear drawing of that Amazonian goddess splashed across the cover. Hard to believe I was just eight years old when this came out (and about ten or eleven when I discovered it). Wasn’t the music that I discovered though, I was still too young for that. It was that goddess, her along with the Latin chick sitting in whipped cream on the Herb Albert album in my Dad’s collection. Good times .

Anyway this was an instant classic, yielding the band two smash singles with Peter Green’s “Black Magic Woman” and Tito Puente’s “Oye Como Va”. Those two amazing tracks alone would have been enough for the career of most musicians, but Carlos Santana and Gregg Rolie at least would both go on to lengthy and successful careers even after this lineup ground to a halt a few years after this release. The album stayed on the charts for more than a year, an amazing feat for what is basically a Latin-and- blues extended jam session. I’ve vacillated on what really makes this album work. Santana’s guitar of course. But Rolie’s B3 rocks the house as well and gives hints as to the creative process that would manifest itself later in such Journey classics as "Kohoutek", the hazy summer anthem “Feeling That Way”, and of course “Hope You’re Feeling Better” which was a Rolie composition. “Samba Pa Ti” especially calls to mind that same sound, something that really evokes the carefree and natural spirit of the American northwest.

But back to what makes this band work. The contribution of the percussion is undeniable. This is what turns the album from a complex blues work into something that is ethnic and spicy and intensely energetic. Santana knew this I think, and as his career progressed he always seemed to do his best work when he surrounded himself with marimbas and congas and timbales and the syncopated and hypnotic cadences they lent to the music. “El Nicoya” closes the album with the most striking example of this, but Chepito Areas and Michael Carabello left their mark all over this album.

So really it was the combination of everything, plus probably the free spirit of the times and the open- mindedness of so many young people who were willing to try anything once, even this strangely wonderful ethnic music that was first tossed on the world stage at Woodstock just before this album was released.

The anniversary edition has three live recordings from a Royal Albert Hall concert recorded April 18, 1970. They include a longer and more piano-driven version of “Se a Cabo”; the Santana guitar freak- out “Toussaint”; and a red-eyed, cotton-mouthed intense rendition of “Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen” that must have been unbelievably awesome for those who witnessed it (or at least those who remembered it).

This is a classic, and unquestionably an essential part of any progressive, blues, fusion, world, or hippy record collection. So really just about anyone should have this. If you don’t, buy it. Five stars.

peace

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Send comments to ClemofNazareth (BETA) | Report this review (#162158)
Posted Monday, February 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
russellk
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Yes, I can appreciate the musicianship here, and yes, it is an appealingly smooth blend of jazz and rock, but this album - unlike albums such as 'Caravanserai' - does not work for me.

'Abraxas' did sound revolutionary in 1970, but it as not dated well. A host of imitators swamped the charts with latin-tinged jazz numbers from the mid-1960s onwards - not least the execrable JAMES LAST - and this has detracted from the uniqueness of SANTANA's early sound. Again, I emphasise that this is fine fare, but jazz-rock fusion needs something more than slow to mid-paced jams to rate highly, especially on a progressive rock site. 'Incident at Neshabur' rocks for a few moments, and of course the ubiquitous 'Black Magic Woman' is worth a listen if you haven't heard it a hundred times already. 'Oye Como Va' is the highlight for me, along with the wonderful Hammond organ in 'Se A Cabo'.

This album is not remotely progressive, in my view - again, unlike 'Caravanserai' and the albums to follow. It's a straight jazz-rocker with no linking themes, either musically or lyrically. Instrumental virtuosity alone doesn't qualify this as prog. From SANTANA's fourth album right through the 70s the band became progressively more proggy. Certainly there's nothing here remotely resembling the power, complexity and commitment of THE MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA, for example.

In the end, my complaint about this music is it has been 'whitened' for a middle-class US audience. The black jazz on which this is based is a lot less palatable to white ears, but it's a great deal more interesting. Again, SANTANA allowed some of those sounds into their music later in their career. My advice is to give this a listen for old times' sake, then go try something from 1972 onwards.

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Send comments to russellk (BETA) | Report this review (#166262)
Posted Thursday, April 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
Moatilliatta
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars While Caravanserai steals the spotlight on this prog-oriented website, and deservedly so, Abraxas should, at the least, have an equal share of praise. Never before and never again has Santana's seamless blend of latin, hard rock, psychadelic rock and jazz been treated with such dazzling writing and performing. At the start of the spacey intro, "Singing Winds, Crying Beasts," you're put into a daze by the ethereal sonics of this album, and you never get out of it until the end. Santana & co. turn out some of their best collective and individual performances especially in the instrumental/jam-based pieces "Incident at Neshabur," "Se a Cabo" and "Samba Pa Ti." The album also did well in the mainstream with a rendition of "Black Magic Woman" - most would agree that Santana's version, especially with the added end of "Gypsy Queen" is the definitive version of the song - and Tito Puente's "Oye Como Va." Arguably having the most recognizable and delicious tone of his time, Carlos belts some of the tastiest note nuggets of his career. While his tone may be great to this day, he certainly has lost some of his creativity and soul in his modern work as both a guitarist and a writer. Fortunately, albums like Abraxas almost give the man the right to play the same solo in all of his current collaborative pop smash singles. In brief, this album is melodic, intricate, dynamic and atmospheric. What more could you ask for?

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Send comments to Moatilliatta (BETA) | Report this review (#179532)
Posted Wednesday, August 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Who says that the second parts are not good?

This is by no means a second part of Santana's debut album, what i mean is that after an amazing first album, it may be difficult to approach a second effort as good as the first one, but holy [&*!#] this album is just fantastic.

I receive Abraxas 2 years ago or so as a Christmas gift, along with Caravanserai which will be reviewed later, and this actually was the second Santana album i ever listened, so with Santana i cannot complain that i stardter with the wrong album since i really started chronologically which in my opinion is the best way of understanding a band or artist.

Abraxas was released in 1970 and as i said was the second Santana album, with the first one they had success and with this they carry that success upon them so it was a challenge. And...goal reached! Abraxas was a number one album for several weeks and featured the worldwide famous Black Magic Woman, with this song along with Oye Como Va, Santana's popularity increased not only in the US, but in Latin America and even Europe! So in my opinion this is an album that make history in the rock music scene.

The album kicks off with Singing Winds, Crying Beasts, what a beautiful manner of starting an album, this is a delicious track filled with an extraordinary soft mood, it does sound like an improvisation, it may have meant to be one, i don't know, but this track believe me puts you really in the album, Santana's opener songs are always at the right place, once you listen to the first song you will not stop it. What we have next, is the famous Black Magic Woman which is a song that everyone of us know and a song that was a boost on Santana's success, when i began to learn playing guitar, one of the first things i played was this song, so if a kid like me was seducted byt this song, i cannot imagine how many people was touched by this sound.

Oye Como Va, mi ritmo, bueno pa gozar, mulata. This is almost a hymn in terms of rock music, another song that was a landmark of Santana's career and actually in the history of rock, this is another song that we all know and it's recognizable since the first two seconds, also this song as you can see by the name is the first one which has a title in spanish, letting the world know that not only Carlos Santana but other members of the band have their Latin American soul.

Incident at Neshabur hey wanna move or dance?, that is the first i want to do when i listen to the beginning of this furious and amazing song, which is a perfect blend of jazz fusion style with afro/latin percussion and bass sound, here we will find an extraordinary change from this rapid and exciting rythm, to a soft and mellow mood in the second part which also have some nice piano solo.

Se A Cabo togheter would say Se Acabo, which means Its Over, is just a nice and short piece of music which features the classical and particular Santana's style, that latin psychedelic fusion style, great percussion and keys as usual.

Mother's Daughter is another sensational track, which actually follows the same line of their characteristic musical style, but this time the rythm here is a bit faster, there are great bass lines and an always superb percussion playing, it has some noticeable changes which will be found when the vocals enters and when they end.

Samba Pa Ti is a beautiful song, with a change of their musical direction, instead of those heavy and fast fusion moments, here we have a delicate sound, a sfot and calm song with beautiful guitar arrangements, a sogn that can make your day and make you enjoy every single moment of it.

Hope You're Feeling Better, with this song we are reaching the end of the album, with only one song left, we could say this is the last song before the outro, it starts with an organ and then the drums, some seconds later we will hear vocals again and return to the powerful side of Santana's music, the first part is one of the weakest moments of the album in my opinion, but the second part is simply amazing, we can listen to Carlos awesome guitar playing and an extraordinary instrumental ending.

And finishing the album, a short track called El Nicoya, which may fit perfectly in another song, i mean is a short track that doesn't show anything new, it has some vocals refering to Chepito, who of course is the one who plays those extraordinary percussion.

If in my review of their first album i said that was a must having, this cannot stay behind, this is a must listening for any rock fan in general, and an excellent addition for any prog rock lover, if a grade of 4.5. stars was possible, that would be my choice, now i would say 4 stars!

Enjoy it!

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Send comments to memowakeman (BETA) | Report this review (#181142)
Posted Saturday, August 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Without being a real virtuoso of the guitar, not even a composer, Santana is one of those musical personalities which produces a high quality albums. I do not think Santana has evolved all these years but I do not have any doubt about his creativeness using a very well recognized technique of playing guitar and this album to me represents his take off to a new style creation. Some classics of all times are being extracted from this album: Black Magic Woman, Oye como va and Samba pa'ti. Definitively the ones projected Santana to the stardom. Still these songs are 38 years later a good support of his live concerts. Good album but not essential though, could be a 3.5 stars.

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Send comments to Yes I am (BETA) | Report this review (#182555)
Posted Tuesday, September 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Abraxas" is the 2d full-length studio album by US jazz rock/fusion act Santana. After the huge artistic and commercial success of the platinum selling debut album "Santana (1969)", the group released "Abraxas" in September 1970 through Columbia Records. "Abraxas" turned out to be another platinum selling album for the group. The album follows much the same formula as the debut but adds more latin flavors and an even more eclectic musical approach.

The music on "Abraxas" is predominantly instrumental but there are a few tracks featuring vocals. Santana´s maybe most famous track "Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen" are among those. The music features influences from both anglo rock, blues, jazz, fusion, african and latin music. With two percussionists and a drummer there is great emphasis on rythmic playing which is a trademark on the early albums by the group. Carlos Santana´s guitar playing and Gregg Rolie´s organ playing are also a big part of the sound on the album as well as the great bass playing by David Brown. The vocals by Gregg Rolie suits the music well too.

The production is organic, warm and enjoyable.

While "Abraxas" is a greatly enjoyable album by Santana, I was sligthly more impressed by the debut album. "Abraxas" is a more varied album than "Santana (1969)" but somehow not quite as interesting to my ears. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is still deserved for a high quality release.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#241815)
Posted Monday, September 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Second Santana (band) album and one more from golden four first albums. After the perfect debut, there are not too many changes in direction on this album.

Main difference - sound became more well balanced. If there were plenty of citation from blues-rock, or hard rock, or psychodelia on their first album, there all same styles are melted in one mixture, with stronger feel of jazz/fusion.

Ingridients are in fact almost the same, but from now it is much more difficult to catch where blues-rock is finished and latin-rock is started in composition, etc. This better balance made all music less raw, but gave more sofisticated feel. In fact, it classical Santana sound now ( for their earlier period, of course).

The album includes some their best ever songs, as Fleetwood Mac's "Black Magic Woman" cover ( which successfully was converted from Peter Green's blues-rock to Latin-bluesy rock), perfect Latin instrumentals "Oye Como Va" , "Se A Cabo" and "Samba Pa Ti".In fact, all the album sounds as greatest hits collection! One of band's best albums from their golden age.

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Send comments to snobb (BETA) | Report this review (#243000)
Posted Monday, October 05, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is an amazing album. You may have heard some of these songs on the radio for years and never thought PROG. But, when you listen to the album as a whole it begins to sink in. This really was eye opening music for it's time. It jumps across all standard genres and just wows you with great musicianship. The guitars, the organ, the various kinds of percussion all mesh together to provide a very tasty dish that no other band has come close to matching. There are no weak moments here. Just great distinctive music all the way through. Bravo! or should I say Ole!

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Send comments to digdug (BETA) | Report this review (#243252)
Posted Tuesday, October 06, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars The only two Santana albums I've ever really been able to get into are ABRAXAS and CARAVANSERAI - but wow! what great albums they are. Despite the albums in between, these two albums play almost as companion pieces to each other. Both are classics, but if I had to choose, I'd give the nod to CARAVANSERAI as my favorite. Maybe it's because none of the tunes are radio staples, so I came into it fresh; maybe it's because the album is just so mystical, it plays like a Latinized version of Floyd or something. With ABRAXAS, you get classics many have probably heard already, such as "Black Magic Woman," "Oye Como Va," and "Samba Pa Ti." Both albums start off in a similar vein, with memorable, moody instrumentals that set the tone for the rest of the albums. One thing that does often annoy me is Carlos Santana's penchant for endless jamming. I prefer more economical soloing, something a bit more sculpted and leaving room for space. As one might guess, my tolerance for Hendrix is also a bit low, and clearly Carlos Santana's model is Hendrix. These quibbles aside (more a personal taste than anything), these two albums belong in any popular music lover's collection.

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Send comments to jude111 (BETA) | Report this review (#247399)
Posted Friday, October 30, 2009 | Review Permalink
Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Prog Specialist
5 stars One of the first Rock bands I ever heard is SANTANA, since my childhood when I went to my friend's houses to play, their older brothers and sisters were listening this fantastic band, and when I started to listen music, SANTANA was one of my first choices, but something I could never understand is his addition to Prog Archives as Jazz Fusion band.

There's no doubt SANTANA should be here, but for his contribution to the San Francisco Psyche scenario and the fascinating blend of Latin music with Rock, but their roots are in the Son Cubano, Salsa and Caribbean rhythms, by no means in Jazz Fusion. This doesn't mean that "Santana" never includes some Jazz elements, but not remotely the pre-eminent sound in my opinion

The problem of the term Latin Jazz is that it's used to group a multitude of genres by people that don't understand Latin American music under a moniker that they understand. Only Latinos are aware of the richness of genres and sounds of this part of the world, and we don't label every fusion of our music with Rock under Latin Jazz. But the important thing is that he's here and we can have the pleasure of reviewing their best albums.

After the solid self titled debut, SANTANA had to at least repeat the success, but they went further, in "Abraxas" they define the music of the band placing more emphasis in the Afro Cuban sounds rather than in rock, creating a unique sound.

The album starts with "Singing Winds, Crying Beasts" by Michael Carabello, a clear introduction to the album in which the subtle organ and the congas create a mysterious atmosphere that falls over the audience as a thick mist, if ever SANTANA was close to Fusion is in this short track.

"Black Magic Woman", a Psychedelic fantasy written by Peter Green and inspired in Gabor's Zsabo's Gypsy Queen, that allows "maestro Carlos Santana" to exploit his skills with the electric guitar, while Gregg Rolie adds his characteristic voice and the fantastic Hammond that creates the dreamy atmosphere so characteristic of the late 60's....Simply brilliant.

"Oye Como Va" by the legendary timbales genius "Tito Puente" adds the touch of pure salsa only softened by the atmospheric organ and the brilliant guitar solos by "Carlos Santana" that makes of this song a timeless classic.

"Incident in Neshabur" by the Blues pianist "Alberto Gianquinto" with arrangements by "Carlos" Santana is a weird fusion of Rock and Jazz with Congas and Timbales, absolutely dramatic and heavy with all the revolutionary spirit of the 60's. The performance of Greg Rolie in the keyboards is outstanding.

"Se A Cabo" is the only track by "José Chepito Areas" in this album, and against what could be expected, the emphasis is not placed in his beloved percussion, but in the combination of keyboards and guitar, only in the middle a timbales break reminds us of the author of the song, but without the Hammond sound, this song would not be remotely as good.

"Mother's Daughter" is a frenetic Greg Rolie song where Carlos can display his guitar abilities with pleasure. The raspy voice of Greg is so characteristic that makes the track impossible to be sung by any other vocalist. Probably the less Latin oriented track in the album, but doesn't sound out of place at all.

When the first notes of "Samba Pa Ti" by "Carlos Santana" can be heard, thousands of memories of a long time gone childhood come to my mind, sweet, soft and mysterious, with one of the best performances by Carlos, and Rolie puts the cherry on the top of the pie with his tortured Hammond. This time instead of taking a lead role, the percussion instruments enhance the beautiful music. My all time favourite Santana song.

"Hope You're Feeling Better" is a typical product of the late 60's, pure Psyche Rock with aggressive vocals, dreamy guitar and more tortured Hammond, if it wasn't because we know it well, we could believe this Greg Rolie song was played by a different artist.

The original album ends with "El Nicoya", pure Afro Caribbean sound based almost exclusively in a complex percussion, not bad, but if you ask me which track I like less, would mention this one.

My version of "Abraxas" was released in 1998, and contains three bonus tracks from SANTANA'S historical performance in the Royal Albert Hall on 1970, including the outstanding live versions of "Se A Cabo", "Toussaint L'Overture" and "Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen", that allows us to listen the live performance of this classics.

Of course, no review would be complete without mentioning the colourful and extremely beautiful art cover by "Roberto Venosa" a magnificent work that looks almost like a mural by the great Diego Rivera with a touch of Salvador Dali.

"Abraxas" is the definitive SANTANA album and for that reason defines an era, solid and essential masterpiece, no form to rate it with less than 5 stars.

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Send comments to Ivan_Melgar_M (BETA) | Report this review (#249337)
Posted Monday, November 09, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars This was SANTANA's commercial breakthrough album from 1970 thanks in large part to their biggest hit "Black Magic Woman". Interesting that when they were recording this album Peter Green who was then with FLEETWOOD MAC was hanging out with them in the studio. He had this song he wrote called "Black Magic Woman" that his band didn't seem to want to play, in fact it took a year of pestering them before FLEETWOOD MAC finally recorded it for their "English Rose" album in 1969. He really wanted SANTANA to record it, and they obliged and adopted it as their own, and yes the rest is history. As SANTANA went into the studio to record this second album the most important thing for them was for the sound quality to be better than the debut. So they hired a producer (Fred Catero) who's albums were known for the quality of sound.

"Singing Winds, Crying Beasts" is such a good opener with the atmosphere and piano early. The guitar makes some noise before a beat kicks in at 1 1/2 minutes as the atmosphere continues. "Black Magic Woman / Gypsy Queen" needs no introduction. The guitar leads early then piano as percussion continues. Vocals join in. The bass is prominant throughout. I love the second part "Gypsy Queen" with the guitar out in front. "Oye Como Va" was the other big hit from this record. The organ pulses with bass and percussion as guitar joins in. Vocals follow in this catchy tune. "Incident At Neshabur" is uptempo with percussion, organ and piano standing out. Guitar 2 minutes in then it settles right down a minute later. It picks up again with piano before a calm to end it.

"Se A Cabo" opens with percussion as organ and guiitar join in. Vocals and piano 2 minutes. "Mother's Daughter" sounds great when it kicks in with guitar. Vocals around a minute. The guitar is lighting it up after 3 1/2 minutes to end it. "Samba Pa Ti" is a beautiful instrumental with percussion and guitar. Bass and organ arrive after 1 1/2 minutes then the tempo proceeds to pick up. "Hope Your'e Feeling Better" is a catchy track that opens with organ then a full sound. Vocals too, and i love the guitar. "El Nicoya" is a short tune with percussion and vocal expressions.

I can't say enough good things about this album. The mood they create just draws me in. And yes it's 1970 one of my favourite years.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#280600)
Posted Wednesday, May 05, 2010 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Santana's second combines the energy of the debut with a higher dose of Latin influences, stronger jazz atmosphere and more polished song-writing.

Singing Winds is dreamy, psychedelic but still warm, sweaty and smooth. It brings me mind-expanding vibes similar to those I get from Kraut rock. Black Magic Woman needs no introduction, it's one of Santana's best pop/soul songs and the guitar is superb, the subtle picking during the verse as much as the flamboyant lead guitars. Oye Como Va must be my favorite happy song. Very catchy and very musical.

Incident At Neshabur is less well known and a bit wilder then the songs that preceded. Quite heavy sections alter with jazzy jams, with percussion all over the place again. It opens up to a mellow section in the middle that Canterbury fans shouldn't miss. Se A Cabo is another wild Latin rocker with loud guitars and rousing percussion. Heavy rock follows on Mother's Daughter and Hope You're Feeling better. Samba Pa Ti and El Nicoya dwell in more Latin atmospheres.

A strong album with a rock solid, spacious and dynamic sound. I think I would have loved it a lot better had I come to know it earlier though, it now doesn't seem to rival the debut album for me.

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#448397)
Posted Monday, May 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars With this album Carlos Santana made sure that in the froth of inter-genre experimentation on the rock scene at the time - with jazz, folk, blues and other genres mingling in - that Latin rhythms and styles would not be brushed under the carpet. Mingling blistering psych-fusion with Latin-influenced arrangements with songs like his excellent cover of Fleetwood Mac's Black Magic Woman (which I firmly believe is better than the original), Santana's second album exploded onto a scene eager to hear new sounds and delivered precisely that. The compositions do tend to blend together after a while, and whilst it's always at a high standard there are few truly set-your-hair-on-edge *wonderful* moments, but there's no question that this is a great album which came out at precisely the right time to ensure it was a major commercial success as opposed to sinking like a stone.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#461195)
Posted Tuesday, June 14, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Wow what an album! It was recorded in 1970, and proves that great musicianship is timeless and always delightful to hear. I would actually recommend all of Santana's early albums. The first one was also brill but this is one of the finest. The band are tighter here with Carlos showing off his technique more, especially in "Black Magic Woman". Some songs have some even more classy twists like "Incident at Neshabur" with some nice mellow jazz piano to close it off. Other moments burn with a firey Latin intensity. "Se A Cabo" is the best example. A big adrenaline pumper! You can marvel over how each song has such a "live" feel to it, not the sterility of many studio albums. It almost sounds as if the band is plugged in and playing live at your house! Super singing and Hammond organ playing from Gregg Rolie on just about every song. Fab percussion throughout as well of course! One favourite is "Hope You're Feeling Better", a more "straight-ahead" rocker - less "Latin-sounding" than most Santana songs. Check it out...And you'll never underestimate early Santana music!

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Send comments to Frankie Flowers (BETA) | Report this review (#490052)
Posted Monday, July 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
Neu!mann
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Being more of a Euro-Symphonic snob in my wayward youth, I (foolishly) allowed the music of Santana to sail right over my clueless head back in the 1970s. Maybe it was the fact that they were a more or less local band to this San Francisco Bay area native, and thus flew too low under my Anglophilic radar. Or maybe it was the saturation airplay of the top ten single "Black Magic Woman" on every AM radio in the known universe at the time: a guaranteed turn-off to any discriminating Proghead.

Catching up with the band's sophomore album after more than forty (!) years, and kicking my own tardy butt in the process, I'm surprised at how easily misled I was by its popularity. The more accessible hits like "Oye Como Va" and "Black Magic Woman" (abbreviated as BMW: was Carlos encoding his bourgeois lust for luxury automobiles..?) need to be heard in the proper context alongside the strictly instrumental psychedelic salsa elsewhere on the album.

Between the actual songs is a higher ratio of jamming than expected, from the aptly-titled curtain raiser "Singing Winds, Crying Beasts" to the evocative slow dance of "Samba Pa Ti", and finally to the unadorned Latin American percussion epilogue "El Nicoya". All of it is propelled by a spicy combination of congas and timbales, with a healthy dose of old-school Hammond organ and electric piano. And, of course, the fluid lead guitar of Carlos Santana himself, one of the quintessential players of his time.

In retrospect the achievement of "Abraxas" was its perfect synthesis of late '60s psychedelic rock with south-of-the-border musical traditions, showing a different sort of fusion than the usual Jazz-Rock and Classical-Rock hybrids then in vogue. It's a combination that must have been exciting in 1970, and like any true classic the album has yet to show its age; certainly it doesn't sound like a relic from a bygone era when heard today.

My four-star rating is conservative. The album probably deserves a fifth star for historical significance (if not for colossal sales figures), but the band wouldn't reach the pinnacle of its artistry until the release of the album "Caravanserai" two years later.

(A brief footnote: the eye-popping cover is by Mati Klarwein, who was also responsible for the album artwork of "Bitches Brew" and "Live / Evil", one more example of the acknowledged influence Miles Davis had on the Fusion experiments of Santana. That impressive nude on this particular canvas is meant to represent the Virgin Mary receiving the annunciation, depicted in a manner inconsistent with the Sunday School lessons of my suburban childhood. Further proof, like my ignorance of the album itself, of a too sheltered childhood?)

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Send comments to Neu!mann (BETA) | Report this review (#585738)
Posted Saturday, December 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
Prog Sothoth
COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
5 stars If Santana hadn't created such a memorable effort in Abraxas, twenty years later there would have been a slew of pentagram flashing death metal start-ups vying for Abraxas as their band name. Abraxas must be thanking Santana every day for that.

This brand of world fusion was quite a new thing back in 1970, and the balance this album achieves in blending the latin, jazz and rock influences has rarely been matched since. Beautiful instrumentals such as "Singing Winds, Crying Beasts" and "Samba Pa Ti" sit alongside hard rockers such as "Mother's Daughter" and "Hope You're Feeling Better". Seriously, every time I hear "Mother's Daughter" I keep thinking what a great FM rock staple that song should've been. It kicks, and Rolie really lets it all hang out, ya dig? No matter, I suppose, since this classic boasts "Black Magic Woman" and "Oye Como Va"...two songs I've heard countless times outside of listening to this album from tv commercials to bad karaoke attempts. Thing is, these tunes still sound fresh and I don't find myself irritated due to overplay.

The production shines on all the instruments and was accomplished in such a professional manner that this release has a much more modern flair than a lot of rock albums released decades later. Engineers kill to bring about a sound like this to full bloom. The playing is brilliant all around. Yes, Carlos is a master and his fluid and gorgeous approach to the electric guitar was highly influential, but man those percussionists blow me away. "Se a Cabo" displays them struttin' their stuff in grand fashion.

A surprisingly huge seller during that transitional year of rock music, and yet it's also one of the most adventurous. In that sense it can be considered essential, and there's also a bit of personal bias for this since it's maybe the first record that showed me that rock was not some angular genre with strict limits. The album cover doesn't hurt either.

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Send comments to Prog Sothoth (BETA) | Report this review (#609020)
Posted Friday, January 13, 2012 | Review Permalink
EatThatPhonebook
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 8/10

"Abraxas" has something for the ambitious listener, as well as something for the casual one.

Carlos Santana is regarded as one of the master guitarists of our time, "Abraxas", regarded by the public as his masterpiece. Your Progressive Rock fan might prefer the stranger "Caravanserai" to this one, as really "Abraxas" doesn't have much Prog in it, being more of a strong Psych influence. But it is thanks to "Abraxas", no matter what you think, that now Santana-the band- are considered authentic Rock legends.

The reason why Santana were so popular is because they combined tons of exciting genres together, in a quite innovating way: Psychedelic Rock, Latin Rock, Samba, Jazz Fusion, Blues Rock, and even some Hard Rock. The vibe turned on a lot of people on the Woodstock stage, and when the debut album was released, and with "Abraxas" that sound got much more mature and the audience grew noticeably. It would be almost unthinkable today to have such an album on the top of the charts, an album that is at times quite complex to listen to, but always is of a strong pleasure especially if you're one that appreciates experimentation. Other than the guitars, bass, drums and vocals, Santana used very frequently tons of percussion, organ, Piano, Tabla, always using the irresistible Latin rhythms that made the band so unique. The music featured on this album can be either chaotic, messy, or smooth and seducing, depending on the song. With cleverly alternated instrumentals and sung songs, "Abraxas" has an extremely solid and rigid structure that seems almost studied in an extremely schematic way, without though excluding some anomalies such as ballads or short interludes.

There are the big, famous hits that made Santana huge, like "Black Magic Woman" and "Oye Como Va", two light-mood, samba-influenced songs, catchy, memorable, and frankly irresistible too. The more Hard Rock influenced "Hope You're Feeling Better" was released as a single, along with the previous mentioned songs, however it wasn't as popular, even though it has even more memorable hooks and a strong, beastly feeling, especially in the vocals. Among the psychedelic instrumentals, the first track of the album, "Singing Winds, Crying Beasts", with it's climactic feel, or "Incident At Neshabur", a much more enlivened and fast song, almost messy at times. "Samba Pa Ti" is a beautiful ballad, which is also instrumental, but it still has that seducing, mystical magic that the rest of these songs have. "Abraxas" had something for the ambitious listener, as well as something for the casual one.

There is really nothing you can ask more from a band. One of the greatest albums of it's genre, a landmark acheivement historically but also musically, an LP that even forty years later gets people moving to the rhythms.

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Send comments to EatThatPhonebook (BETA) | Report this review (#642703)
Posted Tuesday, February 28, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Classic Santana album released in 1970. This is one that everyone should be familiar with through numbers like "BLack Magic Woman" and "Oye Como Va". 3 live tracks including "Black Magic Woman" have been added to this CD release. As good as the debut album and maybe a bit better. For the first 5 years or so Santana could do no wrong in my mind. Until pop rock took over they were great at introducing a rock/prog/latin/funk product to the world. And Carlos ranks with the best guitar players in the world of rock and prog. Close to being a perfect 5 star album.

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Send comments to mohaveman (BETA) | Report this review (#733660)
Posted Friday, April 20, 2012 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
4 stars The second Santana album is the legendary classic "Abraxas". They are all great tracks and really feature heavily the stabbing overpowering Hammond. This is Santana at their proggiest best. The first Santana experience for me was the Woodstock 'Soul Sacrifice' performance with that wonderful guitar lick and the amazing drum solo.

After than I had heard 'Black Magic Woman', a classic with soulful vocals and played with virtuoso musicianship. This is a wonderful album, opening with congas and bongo drums and electric piano jamming on 'Singing Winds, Crying Beasts'. I love the atmospheres with the chimes and cymbal splashes. The jazzy grooves and lead guitar at the hand of the mighty Carlos on 'Black Magic Woman / Gypsy Queen' are hard to top. In fact the rest of the album battles to do so.

It is hard not to lock into the cool tribal grooves of 'Oye Como Va' or 'Se a Cobo'; Carlos is scintillating on lead guitar. The formula is set in stone on this album, and it is a constant with tracks such as 'Incident At Neshabur'. Gregg Rolie's keyboard work is exceptional, surely one of the all time greatest keyboardists. The fast tempos that lock in are infectious, capturing the trademark Santana atmosphere perfectly on 'Mother's Daughter', and the wonderful 'Samba Pa Ti' that graces many Santana compilations.

The lurid cover artwork may distract, and make it difficult to bounce the eyeballs away, but if you close your eyes and just drift off to this mesmirising music, Santana can really move the listener, with the extended jamming of Carlos and Rolie that are simply unsurpassed. Everything Santana did in the 70s is spine tingling and unforgettable jazz fusion music.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#849209)
Posted Saturday, November 03, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Abraxas is the second album of the famous latin-proggers Santana. They show a more sophisticated and professional sound and with the major hit "black magic woman" - which is actually a cover of Fleetwood Mac - this became the absolute breakthrough record for Santana. Because of the colourfull covers Santana is often related to the psychedelic scene, but the music fits far better in the the progressive/fusion scene, because of the percussion, which is not so different from Miles Davis on Bitches Brew, and songwriting. The latin influences in the music became Santana's trademark and are prominent on these early records.

The record is mainly filled with instrumental parts, which differ from latin hardrock to latin ballads. Carlos Santana's guitarsound is mainly subtle, but can rock on the heavier parts. The more song-like parts also change from subtle (on black magic woman) to distorted (on Hope you're feeling better). The percussion is the other most important part of Santana's sound and sounds fine. Santana highly skilled guitarplay makes this a good record; not much better then their debut however. A nice, but easy listening.

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Send comments to the philosopher (BETA) | Report this review (#877785)
Posted Tuesday, December 18, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Continuing the huge success generated by their debut album and their instant stardom generated by the Woodstock Festival in August 69, SANTANA released their 2nd album ABRAXAS the following year pretty much following the same formula of mixing rock, blues and latin jazz. The album was an even bigger hit than the debut hitting number 1 on the Billboard album charts and selling more than twice as many albums as well as hitting big with the huge hits "Oye Como Va" and the cover of Fleetwood Mac founder Peter Green's "Black Magic Woman." SANTANA was a worldwide phenomenon by now and their unique Latin big band sound was one of the hottest things going on at the time. As with the previous album there is an army of percussionists accompanying Carlos Santana's bluesy lead guitar and Gregg Rollie's keyboards.

Although this is a great album I have always liked it a tad less than the debut. It is lacking that incessant raw and fervent drive throughout its entirety that made the first album so amazing. The songs are more varied in their approach and the music is generally the same in its sound, yet something about this album just seems like a tamed down version of the debut as a whole. Whereas the debut was a energetic display of adrenaline from beginning to end, I find this one is dragged down a tad with slower numbers like the instrumental "Samba Pa Ti." Nothing on here is bad by any means and it's only a relativity issue for me. It also hasn't helped that I have heard the hit singles on this album to death! Even after giving classic rock radio a break for many years, I still find "Black Magic Woman" a song I no longer like to hear. Make no doubt about it, it is a classic of classics but some music can become toxic after too many listens and this i'm afraid is one of those tracks that I haven't been able to recover from. Despite that an outstanding album that just doesn't reach perfection in my world.

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Send comments to siLLy puPPy (BETA) | Report this review (#1215511)
Posted Saturday, July 19, 2014 | Review Permalink

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