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Santana - Caravanserai CD (album) cover

CARAVANSERAI

Santana

Jazz Rock/Fusion


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Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
5 stars Well, hardly any words can describe just how fantastic this album. Only one of a handful albums that reach perfection, this stunning chef d'oeuvre, even with this site's vast choice of albums, I cannot think of five albums ahead of it. The peak in Santana's career (Carlos' solo career was not really started yet, either) comes rather early, and unfortunately will not be equalled again, although they will come close with Borboletta. By now, the classic Santana group was becoming a loose aggregation of great musicians, this album marks also the turning point between the first and second era of the group. The first departure woula happen after this album, while some future members made their apparition. While the previous albums were just collection of songs and I would not call this album a full-blown concept album, there is definetely a theme all the way through (outside stunning musical beauty that is): every song flow from each other so naturally that you will actually feel that there are just one track per album.

As opposed to their previous three albums, the feeling is drastically different and you know that there will be many adventures from the extatic exhilaration to the stunning and reflective introspection. With a solidly almost-atonal opening track telling you that your musical trip will be as wonderfully strange as a Touareg caravan crossing the Sahara, the album gets a kickstart with Waves Within and segues into the majestic Look Up where the band is in full stride and now compleyely unleashed. And by now you have barely just left the banks of the Nile River heading for the Atlantic Coast, so you can imagine the amazing trip still laying ahead. Just In Time In See The Sun is one of two sung tracks and although short is yet another highlight of the album. The first side closes on the lengthier Song Of The Wind (where Carlos delivers some of his most delightful guitar lines) and All The Love In The Universe (the other sung track), this is one of the most perfect type of jazz-rock with many ecstatic moments.

Leaving Lake Tchad (the halfway mark and watering hole in your trip) behind you, you are heading straight for the forbidden city: Mali's Timbuktu with still quite a few marvels laying before your path. The sun-drenched (more like sun-baked) Future Primitive is evocative of all the traps laying in the desertic and arid lanscapes and is a fitting almost free improv. The mildly Arabian scales in the intro of Stone Flowers (probably referring to the sandroses) indicates that the trip is not always easy for the occidental youth, but the ultimate goal is at hand reaching the fabbled oasis. Clearly another peak is reached with Fuente Del Ritmo as you attack the lasdt quarter of the desert trek on your way to Dakar. This track sets aén incredible tension in the music with its 100 MPH cruising speed, the album reaching its apex: this track shows just how superb and awesome the band could be, and presenting for the first time Tom coster on the electric piano. The only flaw of the album comes from the fade-out of the track failing to create a real link with the apotheosis of the album, the closing 9-min Every Step Of The Way. I have a hard time thinking of a track that tops the musical tension created on this track: after a slowly increasing crescendo, the track suddendly jumps to a cosmic speed and some of the wildest musical landscapes ever: from the saturated flute solo, to the first guitar solo, solemnly underlined by a superb brass section for increased dramatic effects, you are just waiting to see if the orgasm will come when that one note will deliver your intellectual wad. And it does come (and so will you) in the form of a single guitar note (but the one you waited your whole life for), it releases all the built-up tensions and Dakar is in sight. Surely you have succeded in your internal quest for freedom of the mind and cannot be anything else but completely happy. You can ejaculate in the ocean.... I certainly believe that in the genre, no other albums comes even close to the mastery of this album, at least in the evocational power of the music. A true trip into the meanders of your brain, this album is more essential than anything that the prog big five have made. And I am hardly exagerating... ;-)

Uuuuhhh, Max!?!? About creating that sixth star rating, I asked you for.................

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#95614)
Posted Wednesday, October 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Perhaps it's far too easy for the younger generation to underestimate the enormous influence that Santana had on the direction of progressive music in the early 70s and that's a shame. Maybe their well-deserved inclusion on this site will go a long way towards rectifying that situation. After establishing themselves as bonafied "Top 40" chart-toppers with their first three studio albums the group was expected to continue that trend with more of the same radio-friendly ditties. Instead, they shocked the listening public with an album that introduced the masses to the new and blossoming world of jazz rock/fusion that was jetting across the planet just under the radar of popular acceptance. "Caravanserai" was a real trip for the average Joe and not all of their fans were exactly thrilled trying to dance to odd time signatures but for many it opened a door to music that they didn't know existed from bands like Return to Forever, Weather Report and The Mahavishnu Orchestra. Now, don't get me wrong. This album really doesn't sound like any of those groups exactly. It went platinum because it's still got that infectious, exciting Santana sound and groove that is undeniably addicting. But this one takes the listener on a fantastic journey I dare say is quite unlike any taken elsewhere. It stands alone in their vast catalogue of excellent musical offerings and I consider it their apex. Along with Carlos' stunning, emotionally inspired guitar playing, Michael Shrieve's incredible drumming and the tandem of James Mingo Lewis & Jose Chepito Areas' exemplary percussion are without peer in the timeframe this was released in. Even the gruff-voiced Greg Rolie (whom I always thought of as a weak link) surpasses all expectations and performs far beyond his perceived abilities. I'll forego my usual song by song review and tell all of you that read this to simply experience the project as a whole. There's not a low point to be found and the highs are numerous and unforgettable. They created a work of art that is accessible and understandable to even the most casual progressive mind while weaving a tapestry of tones and rhythms that is indescribable. It simply must be heard to believe. I encourage all who love great progressive music to experience it. You will not be disappointed. A very solid 5 stars.

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Send comments to Chicapah (BETA) | Report this review (#95649)
Posted Wednesday, October 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "Caravanserai" is Santana's fourth album, released in 1972, and is a masterpiece of jazz/rock/Latino/space/fusion.

It contains no hits like the previous three albums. It is largely instrumental, beautiful piece of work that shows great amount of talent, imagination and creativity of Carlos Devadip and his backing band. It sounds like a thematic piece, albeit not a "concept", about mysticism surrounding caravans, desert, sand, sun and moon, day and night, and the universal values of life in general. The music here performed is Santana's first real foray into jazz-rock. There are plenty of spacey and ambience keyboards (mostly Hammond and piano) and percussion. Bass is a forefront instrument in many moments on the album and it often sounds as played fretless, thus a wonderful melodic sound. Guitar is less dominant than on previous works, but in turn it fits nicely into the overall music journey, with effective and gentle solos right in proper places (Santana is sometimes prone to excessive "guitar hero" pyrotechnics and unnecessary soloing). The compositions are interconnected without pauses, so the listening process goes smoothly and uninterrupted. Musicianship, composing and production are all perfect. For my taste the only flaw of this album are weak vocals in "All the Love of the Universe", which are too sweetie and come close to easy pop sound. All the rest is perfect.

I would like to recommend "Caravanserai" especially to those people who are sceptic about Santana's "proginess" and who don't like his classic Latin-rock sound of early, more commercial albums.

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Send comments to Seyo (BETA) | Report this review (#95738)
Posted Thursday, October 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
infandous@exc
5 stars Well, not much to add. This album has a special place in my memory, being one of a few albums that opened my up to music (and prog in particular) in my college days. This is, quite simply, a perfect album. There are no weak tracks, the playing by all is outstanding and the mostly instrumental nature of the album appeals to me greatly. This is the only Santana studio CD I own and it is IMO the best one by far (though I have not heard them all, admittedly). The vocal songs work extremely well here, with Rollie being the best singer Santana ever had. And, of course, the guitar playing is sublime. As is pointed out in other reviews, Santana music just seems to exude joy and happiness. And it does it with sublime musical skill.

I've never thought of Santana as prog, but this album certainly fits the genre well, being almost like a concept album, if not actually intended as such. A great album for anyone to hear.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#95746)
Posted Thursday, October 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars I, for one, sort of wanted to see a wider range of reviews on this album. This will be the 10th five star rating in a row given to Santana's Caravanserai and will, almost undoubtedly, bump it into the top 100; probably a progarchives first! And even though I am skeptical of Santana as a whole, have been for some time, this album speaks to me unlike any album I've heard in a long, long time. Knowing of Carlos Santana and his works ever since I was a kid (early 1980's) has given me a lot of wong impressions about him, because by this time so much of his catalogue had been picked apart and pop-culturalized as to make it more undesirable to me. Of his earlier stuff that I was aware of was basically limited to his solo work which was too latin driven for me to particularly empathize, and the only Santana (band) label that I really knew of was the 1999 (?) release of Supernatural which, although great for his career, wasn't anything spectalular. And so this brings me to Caravanserai. From a genre often looked upon as being rather dry this 1972 Jazz/Rock Fusion release had to of been recieved as overwhelmingly fresh. Though still along side of the GREAT John Mclaughlin and his Orchestra Caravanserai convinced a wider audience that Jazz was anything but dead. Not only that but latin music as a whole could produce a sound that was not really that sterotypical, something that has always made me adversed to the genre. Some might argue (obviously not on this site, haha) that Caravanserai starts out too slow and climaxes maybe a bit too late; perhaps those of you who think that should listen again. This album is a journey, and every journey worth taking has some developing to do before the action occurs. If track one blew up in the listeners ears on the strike of the first chord then what else would you really have to look forward to? Carlos Santana is, as I have discovered, excellent at provoking the listener to go in for the long-haul of the album. Pushing them to wonder what more this guitarist has to offer, and this album provides food for your curiosity quite nicely. Obviously there are tracks, All The Love of The Universe and Stone Flower to name a few, that excel in terms of composition but I wouldn't want to take them out of the context of the rest of the album. The only track that I feel is completely arbitrary is Future Primitive because it seems like Santana just wanted to have a crazy conga/bongo solo in the middle of the album but this isn't to say that Future Primitive is not still one of my favorite tracks on the album because, lets face it: percussion jams are awesome. Also, to address the confusion of whether or not Santana is prog... please, start listening here and then try to write a scathing review of something quite possibly prefect; I couldn't. All and all, slow to start or blowing up with exceptional musicianship, this album is nothing short of five stars. The Jazz/Rock Fusion community, I guess, might be able to find something wrong with this masterpiece but I can't. Enjoy!

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Send comments to Legoman (BETA) | Report this review (#95802)
Posted Thursday, October 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Caravanserai was a most important jazz initiation for many suburban hippies, many of whom would subsequently move on to appreciate the likes of John Coltrane at one end of the spectrum, and Miles Davis' Bitches Brew at the other. This LP signaled a switch in Santana's signature sound to add many more influences to the somewhat simple Latin/rock of previous efforts.. This album has many of the original band members, but the sound is far more experimental, and openly shows Carlos for the first as the group's main conductor and creative force.

The first side of this record documents a time of complete artistic freedom, and the haunting horn that opens Caravanserai signals the emergence of Carlos as modern musical shaman. The original three records were fairly straightforward offerings, but Caravanserai is far trippier. Just the same, it is an easy listen that draws the listener into a very atmospheric experience from the outset.

Experiencing Santana in concert is about as close as you can get to going to church without the religion, but the Caravanserai tour was at first a shock for ears not yet cured in jazz. It must have been quite disconcerting for some of those in the early audiences of this tour who were perhaps expecting to see the band from the Woodstock movie.

There has always been a conflict in Santana's music between the honest questing heard on Caravanserai with the overt grabbing for a hit single that permeates more recent material. This fourth Santana recording helped push rock music toward jazz and opened many ears of many musicians toward implementing an electric rock format to create a jazz-fusion sound. Caravanserai did for rock what Bitches Brew did for jazz, and many copies of vinyl have been worn down and replaced over the years. It never loses its appeal, and is for many long time fans one of the truly treasured items in their collections.

Caravanserai is a complete departure from the previous rock-pop sound into a more spiritual complexity that would echo through Santana's work right up until the late nineties.

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Send comments to vingaton (BETA) | Report this review (#95823)
Posted Thursday, October 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I am a huge Santana fan but, believe it or not, this is the first time since perhaps ten years I listen to this highly acclaimed Santana effort here on Prog Archives, what a cascade of 5 star ratings!

While listening to this album I also enjoyed the pleasure of looking at the mindblowing LP cover and looking at the impressive list of involved musicians, from Mingo Lewis on congas to later Santana keyboard player Tom Coster on electric piano. There is wonderful flow on this album, when I started listening I quickly got into the exciting Latin- rock sound and l was carried away until the last second. The music is very melodic with lots of Hammond organ waves and assorted percussion (congas, bongos, timbales) as a solid and powerful foundation for the compelling guitar soli by mainly Carlos Santana but also Neal Schon (because of him I became Journey fan) with his distinctive, often biting and wah-wah drenched guitar runs. My highlights are All The Love Of The Universe (a delicate Spanish flavor - like a Malaguena - , splendid guitar soli, swirling Hammond solo and warm vocals), La Fuente Del Ritmo (exciting percussive Caribbean climate with great work by Santana on guitar, Tom Coster on Fender Rhodes electric piano and Greg Rolie on Hammond organ) and finally Every Step Of The Way, in my opinion one of the best compositions ever made on Santana albums (by drummer Mike Shrieve) : a great build-up, the surprising blend of an orchestra and excellent work on organ, flute, percussion and especially guitar, what an exciting, often howling and even blistering runs!

A very good album but I prefer Abraxas and Live At The Filmore '68. This was Santana his last genuine Latin-rock album before his convertion to jazzrock/fusion, not really my taste.

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Send comments to erik neuteboom (BETA) | Report this review (#95981)
Posted Friday, October 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
bhikkhu
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Prog Team
4 stars As you may have already guessed, this is one heck of an album. The band may have been in transition (or even disarray), but it sure doesn't sound like it. These guys sound as if this is what they have been doing all along. This also says quite a bit about the talent assembled here.

If you are a fan of the first three albums, this one may come as a bit of shock. The heavy-duty rockers, and west coast psychedelia, are gone. The jazz influence reigns supreme. There is no doubt that it is Santana, but it is smooth beyond words. There is an extremely organic quality to the flow of the music. No hits will be found, but that wasn't the point. It is about the music, and craft. There are numbers that will get your head bobbing, and toes tapping, but the strength of the compositions always holds more interest. It is beautiful, sublime, and even rocking at times. Through it all runs a consistent vision.

Overall, I would rate it five stars. However, there is just something here that doesn't speak masterpiece of prog to me. It is a joy to be sure, but I don't believe the album is essential for a prog collection.

H.T. Riekels

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Send comments to bhikkhu (BETA) | Report this review (#96374)
Posted Tuesday, October 31, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Well, this is my all time Santana favourite, though it's difficult to choose an album from his golden era, which, in my opinion, span the late '60 to the mid '70. More adventurous than his previous classic latin rock album, here santana blend different elements: latin roots, rock, jazz and an overall meditative and almost mystic atmosphere that makes this album somewhat unic. Probably this is the reason that makes the santana albums of this period appreciated by the prog community, but not so much by the average rock fans. My rating is 4,5 stars, and I'd recommend this album to a friend who'd like to start to get into santana. A compelling album. Giuliano, Rome, nov. '06

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Send comments to giuliano (BETA) | Report this review (#99901)
Posted Wednesday, November 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
Moatilliatta
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Santana peaked with this one. I have never been a fan of the vocals he used, and this one uses vocals in only a few songs and they are smaller parts. I could never really get into his previous works because of those vocals. This album has a great fusion of jazz, rock, latin, and even some psychadelia. What an excellent album. Santana's always had one of my favorite tones in guitar, and here he demostrates great tone and precise playing. Highlights would be the softer and striking "Song of the Wind," The percussive attack-ridden "La Fuente del Ritmo" and the great jam of "Every Step of the Way," though each track is great. Should be in everyone's collection.

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Send comments to Moatilliatta (BETA) | Report this review (#104622)
Posted Tuesday, December 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Imagine it is 1972, all that youthful spirituality and journeys of self discovery. Young people did it in abundence in those days. Whether it was an offshoot of Tolkien, a mad Topographic Ocean zealot or a heavily influenced Carlos Castaneda spiritual awakening, this conscious state was still alive in people and the music. It was largely positive energy flowing in every direction. Caravanserai captures the same elements and themes of this spiritual path many people took. Whether it was Dakar, India, Mexico or Findhorn in the North of Scotland, this album conveys the feel and message in mostly one long musical take. CS increases the lineup substantially to help deliver this wonderful music. It has a really slow build on ' Eternal Caravan of Reincarnation' but by 'Look Up ( See whats coming down )' you know there is something special going on here. Other great tracks include ' All The Love Of The Universe' and the epic closer ' Every Step Of The Way'. Borboletta followed Caravanserai and that album too was excellent. 4.5 stars makes this album an excellent contributor to the genre of progressive music. Arguably classical music too!!

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Send comments to Chris S (BETA) | Report this review (#104715)
Posted Thursday, December 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars If their ever were any hidden treasures in Santana repertoire, alone with Welcome, Caravanserai falls into this category. I've been listening to Santana for years. I've always cherished this album. The best way you can appreciate this CD is with head phones. Just close your eyes and you can feel the music as you ride on a Camel alone the sandy desert. His Latin rhythm mix with guitar and percussion but at the same time he uses high tech moog. Remember, this recording was made in 1972! It's progressive Rock/Jazz, meaning fusion at its best.

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Send comments to almc2242 (BETA) | Report this review (#110073)
Posted Wednesday, January 31, 2007 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
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).

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#111550)
Posted Saturday, February 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Caravans, Camels, but not Canterbury

Santana's fourth album find them consolidating and developing their unique blend of jazz, Latin and rock influences in what is effectively a continuous piece. While the composition credits are shared throughout (Carlos Santana is only actually credited or co-credited with about half), there is a flow to the music which makes identification of individual tracks largely superfluous.

It is of course the guitar work of Carlos Santana which is the prime focus of the music, but the contributions of future Journey guitarist Neal Schon and organist Greg Rolie are pivotal to the success of the album.

Apart from brief vocal interludes such as that on "All the love of the universe", this is a guitar-centric instrumental album. As such, the success of the album is reliant on the strength of the compositions, and the ability of the sometimes lengthy improvised sections to retain the listener's attention. Happily, the album succeeds on both counts. In addition, the Latin rhythms which are so closely associated with Santana do not dominate the sound in the way they tended to do on previous albums.

It is these factors which I believe set "Caravanserai" apart, and lead to it being generally acknowledged as the band's finest work. The way the music is presented will appeal both to those like myself who prefer the music to be generally structured, and to those who look for looser fusion and jazz style improvisations.

The second side of the album is slightly the more indulgent, and although the percussion is occasionally a little too dominant the quality established on the first side is largely maintained.

There is a certain timelessness about "Caravanserai" (which incidentally is the name for a desert pub or inn!) which means it sounds as contemporary today as it did 30+ years a go. Worthy of investigation by fans of rock, jazz, and fusion alike.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#113360)
Posted Saturday, February 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is a must listen for anybody who questions Santana's proginess. This album will take its listeners on quite a journey. Just make sure to listen to THE WHOLE CD. Otherwise, you will not get the whole vibe of it. The CD is mostly instrumental, but still the best Santana ever, and a must have for a complete prog collection.

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Send comments to proghairfunk (BETA) | Report this review (#115002)
Posted Tuesday, March 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
Zitro
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Carlos Santana's transition album from Latin to Jazz. It is surprising that a transition album from an Artist is actually his strongest (in my opinion) album from his whole discography. The album is mostly very smooth jazz with energetic moments and the trademark Santana guitar playing which is full of feeling here. His band is at its best here, with excellent 70s keyboard sounds, Powerful and memorable bass lines, Impressive percussion (including congas and bongos) and drums that seem to be at their best here, and the beautiful and pleasant sounding vocals that bring joy to the listener, though most of the music is instrumental. Another very good aspect of this album is how the songs seem to glue from one to the next, making the album feel like a huge song.

When the album begins with the mysteriously mellow Eternal Caravan of Reincarnati , it shows that it serves as an introduction to warm you up to the superior and virtuosic later songs, like the second song Waves Within which is an energetic latin jazz rocker with phenomenal and complex percussion, improvisational guitar playing that recalls Mars Volta (though much better), and a very memorable riff that holds the song together. Look Up is a very entertaining funky tune with good rhythm guitars, nice hammond organs, and excellent audible bass guitar. The percussion as always is excellent. Just in Time to See the Sun introduces the excellent (scarce) vocals, which sing great melodies. This tune is more accessible and may sound like a pop song, but it's such a musically rich little tune, that it is one little highlight of this masterpiece of jazz. The next song, an instrumental called Song of the Wind is an energetic and guitar-led instrumental (with keyboards present) that ranks among Santana's best instrumentals, surpassing probably even the popular "Europe". Another song that features vocals All the Love of the Universe follows, and is one of the most perfect jazz fusion tracks my ears have heard. It opens slightly aggressive and experimental, then leads to a very smooth guitar melody with wordless melody until you have gorgeous vocal harmonies dominating the piece. The second half has an incredible instrumental with each musician at their very best, including Santana himself who delivers phenomenal guitar solos. This song ends by going back to the musical theme of the first minute and closes the first side of the disc.

Overall, the second side does not reach the musical brilliance of the first side, but there is still plenty to enjoy here. Future Primitives opens the second side, and is a bit more atmospheric and the background sounds like something coming from The Flower Kings' "Unfold the Future" avant garde parts, though the main attraction is a complex percussion solo playing at a much faster speed than the background keys, making an interesting contrast that really works. Stone Flower is another successful song with vocals. Santana has some great guitar lines in this tune and I love how the organs and bass guitar blend so well with the conga&bongo percussion. La Fuente Del Ritmo is an instrumental with fast tempo which focuses on the rhythm section. The closer, Every Step of the Way , is easily the best track in the second side and possibly of the whole album. a Brilliant extended composition with amazing melodies, feeling, atmosphere, power, and technicality. Again, this is another moment where the whole band is allowed to play at their very best. This instrumental track is very energetic and plays at 200 km/h, and even an orchestra is featured to make it sound even more majestic. A perfect closer for the album which redeems some of the songs of the second side that are not excellent.

Highly recommended album for anyone interested in trying jazz fusion. This album is essential for any collection of modern Jazz.

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Send comments to Zitro (BETA) | Report this review (#116584)
Posted Wednesday, March 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars "Originally released in 1973, Caravanserai marked a creative turning point for Santana. Six years of phenomenal success over three albums and extensive tours, this album would represent an expanding of the band's musical scope. Caravanserai takes fans on a harmonic and spiritual odyssey through jazz. A true document of crystalline imaginative vision, Caravanserai is a milestone in the history of Santana". [CD back cover notes].

With that sentences, if you are an adventurer of prog music - who would not want to buy the CD? I was one of you. Having read the notes PLUS some recommendations from local friends as well as reviews at this site I purchased this CD without any hesitation at all. Problem with me was - I could not digest the music easily. Why? I was not able to grab the idea of where Santana was leading their music to. Going prog? Doing something different than what they had done before? Whatever the reason was I don't get the idea of this album.

First, I have to admit that every band has their own musical characteristic that sometimes , subconsciously, becomes my expectation on how they would play their music in every release of their album. Santana's music has unique texture of latin music combined with electric guitar solo by Carlos Santana and soaring Hammond B3 organ by Gregg Rolie. Santana is basically a partnership of Carlos Santana and Gregg Rolie. Their previous three albums were obviously under this banner. When I happened to know Caravanserai later, I felt something funny that the band explored into this music horizon.

Second, putting off al expectations on the kind of music that Santana typically play, I don't even digest the music as usually I could do. Why? Was it due to the first point? No! I tried to forget the fact that this is a Santana album, but still the music itself is not so compelling enough to stir my emotion. Remember, for me music is emotion. Yes, I can hear excellent (no . even "great") guitar work by Carlos Santana and Neal Schon here and there from tracks featured in this album but still I can not grab good quality of the music than the sounds of music jamming. Almost each song has repetitive and boring rhythm section characterized by combination of percussion, drums and bass guitar plus organ. But again they are mostly repetitive in nature.

Based on the above, I have to be honest to say that this is not something so compelling for me as a good prog album to recommend even though this is not a bad one either. I leave it up to you on the decision to purchase. As you know many reviewers praise this album. Sorry, if I have different views because I cannot lie. It's an album for collector / completionist. Keep on proggin' ..!

"Never confuse movement with progress."

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#120984)
Posted Monday, May 07, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Great album, but a little bit too spacey and improvisational for me. I like Santana III a little more for the twin guitar riffs and better song structure. There are some really cool songs on here though, particularly 'La Fuente del Ritmo', 'Every Step of the Way', and 'Look Up (to see what's coming down)'. They really tried to get more of a full sound with this album by adding more instruments and sounds, but I think they went just a little over the top. A pretty good album anyway. 3 stars.

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Send comments to sco-bro (BETA) | Report this review (#124556)
Posted Sunday, June 03, 2007 | Review Permalink
Flucktrot
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Criminally underrated in classic rock circles and by those who claim to love Carlos, I'm glad to see Caravanserai properly appreciated here. I lean toward giving this masterpiece status, though I can see how some would go a bit lower--certainly no lower than four stars in my opinion. Unlike the other Santana albums I've heard, this really has an exceptional flow to it, and as a result it allows you to be transported to a relaxed and appreciative state every time (and you don't have to be wasted, either). It's also great music to put on if you have company over, or if you need some mellow music to keep you focused (working, cooking, studying, etc). Compared to most prog, I really can't see anybody truly disliking Caravanseria.

Because it's so cohesive, I don't want to do a disservice by doing a song-by-song review. Just the first few songs provide a hint of the Caravanserai's variety: mellow improv (Eternal Caravan of Reincarnation), laid-back grooves (Waves Within), funk (Look Up), rock (Just in Time to See the Sun), and a classic Santana jam. All feature catchy, foot-tapping percussion and excellent organ backing and interludes. The rest of the album is of equally high quality, featuring entertaining jams, effective transitions between songs, and catchy melodies. And then we are treated to the finale...

Every Step of the Way. This gem is nine minutes of Latin rock. An eerie, understated melody and rhythm lull you into surrended for three minutes, and then you are hit with the full force of jam that is to follow. Here they throw everything at us: flute, horns, warp- speed congas, and of course a memorable Carlos freak-out. By far my favorite from Santana.

If you profess to love Carlos, you need this album. If you love jazz/Latin prog, you need this album. If you just appreciate good music, you need this album. Give it time to grow, and you'll be happy you found it.

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Send comments to Flucktrot (BETA) | Report this review (#140781)
Posted Thursday, September 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I'm not the biggest Santana fan, as I think he is an ovderrated guitarist and songwriter. He's good and he has some catchy songs, but I don't think his music is instrumentally that great. Until this album that is. The music here isn't quite jazz fusion, it's a mix of alot of things, and no matter what you want to call it, it's very good. Santana's playing actually became original and very interesting to listen to on this album and while I think his earlier stuff is good, it's overrated because of the hits and without those, his earlier albums would just be lost jems of the psychedelic era that people would find out about and go, "hey, this is pretty good". Some of the highlights of this album are Look Up (To See What's Coming Down), Song of the Wind, and Stone Flower. I would recomend this album who thinks that all Santana is overrated.

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Send comments to King Crimson776 (BETA) | Report this review (#151660)
Posted Sunday, November 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
progrules
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars In the forum I once stated that Santana is not really in the right place when it is being reviewed on this website. But that doesn't have anything to do with my feelings about his music. I'm even a big fan of Santana, a childhood love of mine, following his carreer and albums at least until 1982. After that he fell back in my believe just showing occasionally that he is still a great artist (Victory is Won, Smooth). But the reason I feel Santana shouldn't be on progarchives has something to do with his commercial intentions besides of course the fact that Santana isn't really prog to me. The qualification jazz rock fusion is partly correct but then we forget about his common popsongs and albums like Marathon and Zebop. I do believe there are a few albums that come close to prog, close enough to me to be reviewed here but that only goes for this one and Borboletta and maybe the 3rd album. The rest I will not review even though I could.

What is so interesting about Caravanserai ? Hard to explain, but at least this album is very special. I already felt that way in the early eighties when I bought the vinyl. This album is different from all the other material in his carreer. It's even a mystery how he came to do something so different all over sudden. Maybe it has to do with his spiritual and religious switch he made in his life around that time but that's just a guess. I also remember I loved one song in particular of this release and that was Song of the wind. That's no surprise probably because it's the track on which he shows his outstanding talent for guitarplaying the best. Some of the other tracks (2,4,6 and 10) are more of the usual Santana though slightly different. The other tracks can be considered more as interesting and special and also mysterious. But because one really good song isn't enough to me to call it a masterpiece I'll keep it at 4 stars even though it's an essential album.

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Send comments to progrules (BETA) | Report this review (#156779)
Posted Thursday, December 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
russellk
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars More experimental than the three albums that preceded it, tied together with a theme, and sharp when it's trying to be more than pleasant, 'Caravanserai' deserves to be considered the best SANTANA album and a good example of how progressive sensibilities can influence other genres of music.

'Caravanserai' is an emotional journey across the desert. Sometimes languid (as in the opener), often energetic (check out 'Waves Within') and occasionally downright brilliant ('Song of the Wind' and 'Every Step of the Way'), the journey is never dull. All the elements come together in the wonderful 'All the Love in the Universe', which showcases guitar, keboards, drums and bass guitar. This album was a real departure for SANTANA, and was not all that well received by the public - a sure sign the band got something right. The percussion is more complex, the guitars far more imaginative and the soaring keyboards more tasteful than on previous SANTANA albums. Yet the tunes here are just as addictive as those on the simpler 'Abraxas'.

Where or not you're broad-minded enough to consider this prog, you ought to give this album a listen. Actually, give it a number of listens.

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Send comments to russellk (BETA) | Report this review (#166274)
Posted Thursday, April 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Perhaps the best Santana studio album (I would like to say it's Moonflower, but Moonflower is pat live/part studio, so...). Released in Carlos Santana's chamanic/mystical phase, Caravanserai is, as its title says, a kind of orientalized album. No prog at all here, just beautiful psychedelic latino jazz music. World music.

Lots of great tracks here, I especially adore Just In Time To See The Sun, Waves Within, Song Of The Wind, Every Step Of The Way and the magnificent All The Love Of The Universe.

Last Santana album with Greg Rolie and Neal Schon (they'll create Journey later). First with Douglas Rauch, Tom Coster.

A masterpiece.

Caravanserai.

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Send comments to Zardoz (BETA) | Report this review (#166293)
Posted Thursday, April 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is just fabulous. It is one of those albums that can change your life. I cannot find the words to convey my appreciation for this album. A magnificent and meditative journey of musical and spiritual harmony, this album transcends completely, and manages to fuse into a single harmonious whole, all the musical elements that combine to create it. It truly must be listened to as a whole for its beauty to be fully revealed. Each song puts its weight in a slightly different direction, but together these elements combine to form a majestic and harmonious balance. Layered textures, infectious rhythms and wonderful melodies are all characteristics of this album. Beautiful.

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Send comments to listen (BETA) | Report this review (#170727)
Posted Monday, May 12, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Caravanserai is the artistic peak of this great guitarist and his band. Santana had already released three albums Santana-Abraxas-Santana III, which was a step by step upwards progression and reached the top with Caravanserai, which was followed by another two fine albums both artistically and commercially Welcome and Borbolletta. Caravanserai is really a reflection of the most prolific season for music, a season that gave birth to many of the masterpieces we still hear regularly. Caravanserai is a long piece of music and it is just the side of the lp that stops the continuation of the music-a flawless soundscape strengthen by the power of Earth and the Universe-an electrified party of emotions, colours, tastes, caresses. This is really the Eternal Caravan Of Reincarnation captured and expressed excellently-with this song starts a journey so overwhelming that by the time Every Step Of The Way begins, you feel the catharsis of the soul and really eager for this journey to end and get down to earth... One of the milestones in the history of music among with so many others of that age.

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Send comments to Silent Knight (BETA) | Report this review (#198996)
Posted Wednesday, January 14, 2009 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
3 stars This was my introduction to Santana (apart from a couple of well known songs from the radio). I didn't quite know what to expect really. The music is mostly quite slow, often hypnotic and "hazy". The opening number with its acoustic bass is especially hypnotic and has the ability to put you in a kind of trance. An intriguing way to open the album. As I said, the tempo is rather slow and it often feels more like a relaxed jam session than a series of well thought out compositions. The music is not very complex or elaborated, especially not compared to most things I've heard from the Jazz-Rock/Fusion sub genre. Indeed, I have a hard time seeing what is supposed to be progressive about this album. However, it often floats from one song to another in a lovely way and it does kind of "progress" in a way from the very slow and very low key opening to the rather up tempo conclusion.

The majority of the album is instrumental, but there are a few of vocal numbers thrown in as well. The vocal passages are mostly very brief and quite simple in nature. The only track which is really vocally driven is Stone Flower. Although this album was released in 1972, to my ears it has a strong 60's psychedelic sound that is most apparent on this song. Still, this song is the most memorable one here and that might speak in favour of my point that Santana belongs in the 60's. But then again I would say the same thing about Dark Side Of the Moon.

I can definitely see why people appreciate this album, but I do not understand how on earth it can be in the top 50 albums of all time on this site. It is good, but no more than merely good in my opinion. There is nothing offensive or annoying about this album, but in the end it did not leave a lasting impression on me.

Nice cover art, though.

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#201367)
Posted Sunday, February 01, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Everything about this album just feels right if you know what I mean. From the gorgeous cover art to Santana's spiritual take on Jazz / Fusion. It's all perfect. Carlos was getting tired of his partying lifestyle that often comes with fame and fortune. He was a star and SANTANA's first three studio albums sold millions of records. Drummer Michael Shrieve introduced Carlos to the music of Miles Davis and John Coltrane and soon Carlos was following that Jazz / Fusion path with the likes of WEATHER REPORT, Herbie Hancock, MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA, RETURN TO FOREVER etc. It was an exciting time for these bands and SANTANA would join the fun with "Caravanserai". Very cool to hear that Latin influence on this style of music. Kind of like hearing THE MARS VOLTA in their early days and the unique flavour that they brought to the table.There is a spirituality to the music on "Caravanserai" as well. Carlos got into the teachings of guru Sri Chinmoy just as John McLaughlin and Larry Coryell had. Of course not everyone in the band was happy about this change in musical styles, afterall their unique radio-friendly songs had made them rich. Keyboardist Gregg Rolie and second guitarist Neal Schon would leave after this album, eventually forming a band called JOURNEY we all know.

I really like the way the first five tracks blend into each other."Eternal Caravan Of Reincarntion" opens with the sound of crickets and has lots of atmosphere to it. A very relaxed sound. So good. "Waves Within" features light drums and percussion as the guitar and organ join in. It's all very restrained with Carlos letting loose after 2 minutes. "Look Up (To See What's Coming Down)" might be my favourite track on this album.The organ floats along before it all kicks in quickly. Lots of percussion, guitar and organ. The guitar a minute in is heavenly. The organ is outstanding as well. "Just In Time To See The Sun" continues with percussion and organ. We get vocals for the first time on this record before a minute. Check out the guitar that follows !

"Song Of The Wind" again has those floating organ sounds. Guitar and percussion join in as it builds.The guitar is beautiful. Fantastic song ! "All The Love Of The Universe" sort of pulses with sounds that come and go. It settles in before a minute with guitar, bass and other sounds. Vocal melodies too then the vocals come in before 2 minutes. Contrasts continue. I like the guitar before 4 1/2 minutes and the organ that follows. "Future Primitive" opens with these humming sounds and lots of atmosphere. Percussion after 1 1/2 minutes and then drums join in. Great sound ! It blends into "Stone Flower". We get guitar a minute in with vocals right behind. How good does this sound after 2 minutes ! The organ comes and goes. "La Fuente Del Ritmo" has some amazing guitar and percussion before a minute. It's more aggressive 2 minutes in then electric piano comes in after 2 1/2 minutes. Nice.This is incredible ! I like the organ too. "Every Step Of The Way" opens with drums and organ. Love how this sounds after 2 minutes when the guitar comes in and it gets darker and more aggressive.The tempo picks up 3 minutes in. Killer sound a minute later as Carlos is lighting it up.

A must for Jazz / Fusion fans out there.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#229646)
Posted Sunday, August 02, 2009 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "Caravanserai" is the 4th full-length studio album by US jazz rock/fusion act Santana. The album was released . A couple of changes has happened to the lineup that recorded the last album Santana 3 (1971) as bassist Dawid Brown and percussionist Michael Carabello are no longer members of Santana. "Caravanserai" features a lot of guest musicians instead. Two different bassists in Tom Rutley and Doug Rauch (Doug Rauch would stay on as a permanent member) plus some guest piano and percussion by other guest players. "Caravanserai" was recorded between the 21st of February 1972 and the 5th of May 1972 and the album was released through Columbia Records in October 1972. Caravanserai was produced by guitarist/vocalist Carlos Santana and drummer Michael Shrieve.

While the music style in many ways are comparable to the three first albums by the group there are big differences too and "Caravanserai" can be seen as a turning point in the group´s career. Many of the elements from the first three albums are still present on "Caravanserai" and the very eclectic nature of the music is intact. Influences from jazz, fusion, latin and african music, rock and blues are still present, but the pop element which meant that the first three albums reached a big audience and sold millions of copies are not present on "Caravanserai", thereby making it a relatively more difficult to access album than its predecessors.

The music on the album leans more towards jazz rock/fusion and the tracks generally feature technically challenging playing. Most of the tracks are instrumentals. There are actually only three tracks on "Caravanserai" which feature vocals and those three tracks are not mainstream accessible (read: few hooklines or easy to remember choruses). All tracks are still very memorable and melodic though which is something that sets "Caravanserai" apart from many other albums in the jazz rock/fusion genre. The album is easy to access and that´s one of the album´s major strengths. This is certainly challenging music but there are no unneccessary noodling or complex playing for the sake of it. Everything just seem to fit in the right place and tracks like "Waves Within", the "feel good" song "All the Love of the Universe" and the two closing tracks "La Fuente del Ritmo" and "Every Step of the Way" with their extensive percussive assault are great examples of what make this album so special. Strong guitar playing by Carlos Santana and the only 16 year old Neal Schon grace the album, but the omnipresent organ playing by Gregg Rollie, the excellent bass playing by Tom Rutley and Doug Rauch, the strong and enjoyable drumming by Michael Shrieve and the percussive assualt by Jose 'Chepito' Areas and Armando Peraza, all means that the experience of listening to "Caravanserai" becomes one of those truly unique and magical listening experiences.

The organic sound production is excellent. All instruments are perfect in the mix and as a result "Caravanserai" is a very pleasant album to listen to.

Upon conclusion "Caravanserai" is an absolutely outstanding album by Santana, and while I greatly enjoyed all three predecessors, this album really blows me away. I can highly recommend "Caravanserai" to anyone with an interest in melodic jazz rock/fusion. A 5 star (100%) rating is deserved.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#242998)
Posted Monday, October 05, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Side One is a masterpiece, and Santana's crowning achievement. This one goes beyond ABRAXAS. If the album produced no "hits," that is in its favor - all the songs on side 1 are of a piece, and chances are you'll come to this album fresh. It's like a Latinized version of King Crimson's RED period. Many of the musicians on this album were veterans of jazz fusion, and this album should appeal to a variety of musical listeners - those who love Crimson, those who love Corea's RETURN TO FOREVER and Miles' IN A SILENT WAY, those who love Floyd's album-centered approach. I'm not even particularly a fan of Santana, but this ranks as one of my all-time favorite albums of the 70s. If you have a great soundsystem, you'll be blown away by the percussions and energy of the playing. This is really a *band* album, and I'm almost jealous of the person who discovers this album for the first time. Unfortunately, side 2 is more a collection of songs - excellent songs, no doubt, but without the flow and unity of side 1.

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Send comments to jude111 (BETA) | Report this review (#247401)
Posted Friday, October 30, 2009 | Review Permalink
Neu!mann
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Before absorbing the near-unanimous acclaim here at Prog Archives for SANTANA's 1972 studio masterpiece, the band had meant little more to me than a ubiquitous presence on the AM radio dial in my high school days during the 1970s. Many decades down the road, I will now officially and in a public forum kick myself in the rump for ignoring too long a superlative musical experience. Older and wiser, so forth and so on...

Jazz-Rock Fusion was of course the hot buzzword in the early '70s, as spearheaded by such pioneering groups like WEATHER REPORT, MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA, and RETURN TO FOREVER, all formed (and not coincidentally) by alumni of the MILES DAVIS "Bitches Brew" sessions (and likewise all bands that flew beneath my own shortsighted radar at the time).

Carlos Santana never played alongside the legendary jazz trumpeter, but he was certainly a fan. And his eponymous band brought something new and unique to the freshly-set Fusion banquet: a strong sense of Latin rhythm and rock 'n' roll intensity, together reaching its highest combined level of expression on the band's fourth studio effort. From the evocative simplicity of the Near-Eastern cover art to the long, unresolved fade-out of the last, furious jam (with discreet orchestral accompaniment) during "Every Step of the Way", this is a near perfect recording, and a timeless reminder of what music is meant to be.

It's also the one Santana album rarely acknowledged in any of the band's numerous greatest-hit packages and best-of compilations. And for good reason: even with the occasional vocals it still plays like an organic, entirely instrumental concept album, and the songs (to their credit) all lack the top-40 radio airplay appeal of hits like "Evil Ways" and "Black Magic Woman".

In other words, it's an album aiming at something higher than simple commercial success. Don't expect to hear any singing at all until well after the twelve-minute mark, and then just a brief interlude (during "Just In Time To See the Sun") before the more assured salsa-rock fusion of "Song of the Wind", featuring some of Santana's most relaxed yet ecstatic soloing (on an album already overflowing with uncomplicated musical joy).

The entire effort glows with the same, pervasive mood of unforced optimism. Check out some of the track titles ("All the Love in the Universe": hardly a jukebox-friendly moniker). Note too the relaxed, atonal saxophone intro and near-subliminal layering of acoustic bass and percussive allsorts in "Eternal Caravan of Reincarnation", so reminiscent, at least to this aging Crimhead, of the chorus to "Formentera Lady", from the KING CRIMSON album "Islands", released one year earlier.

Strictly speaking, this album shouldn't even be filed under Jazz-Rock. Like the fusions of MILES DAVIS at the time, it resists any easy-fit categorizing, and ought to be heard as nothing more or less than Music, purely and (not always so) simply.

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Send comments to Neu!mann (BETA) | Report this review (#286473)
Posted Monday, June 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars If we have to take someone for what he appears to be in one given moment we will loose all treasures of personality. Picturing Santanas career must seem a failure if we see him by what he have become lately...but who cares? Us...maybe...how could it be that the genius that made Caravanserai is the same affected guy on the mtv?. Isnt a rethoric question...........is something puzzling...as the fact as some of the best prog groups make their best albums under the inffluence of a dubious guru, that is Sri Chinmoy....is something changeling to the mind indeed. I can guess it have to do with the ascetic ethics of the former after bohemian psycodelia....with the possibility of retaining the spititual in some alternative way.....but it doesnt clarify nothing nonetheless. Caravanserai is a work of irresistible beauty.(with some silly moments but they dont really matter in the overall experience)..and a sincere and heartfull athmosphere..it shows a concept and a stripped mysticism...at times is as odd and deep as soft. The arabic themes blend with jazz, southamerican, rock, pure prog and avant garde mothives for rejoice......gentle and passionate....... a psychedelic masterpiece of four and a half stars. Is the most adventurous of Santana´s classics...and also is were the talent of Santana reach its peak... The "love notes" just pierce your cluster and you didnt have other option: you feel it.....but their packed with some of the most proggier and psychedelic nuances. The procesion from Eternal Caravan of Reincarnation (4:28) to Waves Within (3:53) is incredible....dot. Its begining, the mix of a arabic lay down and joyfull avant garde.....too much. Look Up (To See What's Coming Down) (2:59) with some of the best organ ive heard. Song of the Wind (6:02) is love at the guitar. All the Love of the Universe (7:36) sta rts with psychedelic power chords it changes to a soul vibe coming back and forth till it gets to the incredible and emotional central theme..so good and uplifting. Future Primitive (4:12) is a un-melodic bridge. Stone Flower (6:14) gets bossanova to mingle with a joyus arabic theme..and some psychedelia. The feeling is contagious. La Fuente del Ritmo (4:33) is a rithym virus! Every Step of the Way (9:04) is the geniality climax...orchested jazz, psychedelia, latin....a unique composition and interpretation...beyond words. This an album that ends too soon without doubt.

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Send comments to shockedjazz (BETA) | Report this review (#306617)
Posted Monday, October 25, 2010 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
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Prog Metal Team
3 stars Caravanserai is Santana's try at a more reflective kind of fusion album, abandonnning his usual soul-inspired songwriting for largely instrumental and brooding music.

The album is largely successful at that and it became a successful title with Prog audiences. There are a couple of things though that refrain me from giving it an excellent rate. The most important one is that the few songs (as in tracks with vocals) on the album don't touch the quality of previous Santana song material. Just in Time to See the Sun and Stone Flower are enjoyable Latin pop songs but hardly Santana's best. All The Love of the Universe however is a real letdown in my book. Especially the vocals are sub-par, strained, almost off-key, chaotic and far from memorable.

A second thing that's gone missing is the passion and emotion of Santana's sound. Admitted, this album still has a brooding tension underneath the surface but even it isn't till the end of the album that Santana sets the house on fire.

An excellent album when it comes to the instrumental tracks, a bit of a disappointment where the songwriting is concerned. Santana works better for me if he lets his passion burn spontaneously, without intellectualizing it all too much. 3.5 stars, still a recommended listen.

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#338066)
Posted Monday, November 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars I initially gave this album only four stars, and with good reason: 2 of its 10 tracks, or 1 in 5 of them (a star's worth!) are not songs. They are not even sound collages. They are nonsense, pure and simple. They produce zero melodic effect and little to no (to NEGATIVE, depending on your particular mood at the time and how you feel about nature sounds in music generally) effect in maintaining the incredible spiritual resonance brought on by the rest of this album. Clearly, they should deprive the album of a star.

But not this time. This is one of the rare few cases of an album with filler which is still a solid, unflinching masterpiece. See, Santana's filler, at the very least, isn't potential "hit single" nonsense, and since it isn't even music it's fine to just skip the first song and think of "Future Primitive" as an intermission. Only three songs follow it, but they are the album's strongest - it closes on such an astonishing note as simply must be heard to be believed. Carlos is more than a guitarist. And whatever spirituality he was into at the time, the whole rest of the band must surely have been totally locked into as well. They do better than keep up - they keep Carlos up, too. It's primarily instrumental, with jazz being an obvious and significant influence, but far from the only one. It's probably the most religious album I have ever heard - forget about "Christian rock", if you're looking to induce a spiritual catharsis, Caravanserai is the album with which to do it (along with a few of Stevie Wonder's best records, of course - and I'm looking at you, Innervisions, with your unreal "He's Misstra Know It All..." repeating ending. Can we add Wonder to the list of prog artists, for no reason other than that I want an outlet to review his albums?).

Anyways, this was a Santana review, I think. Buy the album. You gotta have it, there's no excuse not to give it a couple listens. It'll probably never make your "regular" rotation - it hasn't mine - but one can't well have a profound religious experience on a daily basis.

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Send comments to KyleSchmidlin (BETA) | Report this review (#354678)
Posted Wednesday, December 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
friso
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Santana - Caravanserai (1972)

This is the album that makes all other Santana albums look a bit silly. This album has so much more to offer that I would rather have this one album then the rest of the Santana discography. Of course it is needless to say this is by far the most progressive live album, though I must admit that Lotus live has many experimental passages too.

Well, what do we've got? Atmospheric Latin rock (with percussions) with fusion, hard rock and progressive influences (mainly the atmospheric and conceptual approach). All this is presented in a stylish fashion that really gives you that 'out in the desert' feeling that music can give you. The album takes the listener on a trip through atmospheres, great melodic sections, some good song-writing and of course long soulful guitar playing by mister Santana himself. Most of the material presented isn't only intelligent, it's also very effective.

Conclusion. Don't have that much to say about this album. A guaranteed success and your family and friends might also enjoy this album intensely. It's easy to access, but it has to be listened to as a whole. A strong four stars.

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Send comments to friso (BETA) | Report this review (#367607)
Posted Wednesday, December 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars It is so exciting to discover albums from 35-40 years ago that I'd never heard before and find myself totally blown away by the 'new' music I hear. Again, thank you Max and ProgArchivists: my world of music has never been so blown open. Caravanserai is an album whose first listen flooded me with such nostalgia; I had never before realized how much Carlos' guitar playing and his Latin rhythms and amazing organists influenced my core musical likes and values until I listened to this album. Hearing "Waves Within" (10/10) I was (and am each time I listen to it) overcome with a flood of emotion taking me back to the Eden that was my formative pre-teen years.

While I understand the derogatory comments bestowed upon the atmospheric "interludes" ("Eternal Caravan of Reincarnation" and "Future Primitive"), I love them and find them essential to the spiritual journey Santana is taking us on.

Through the years I have enjoyed many of the singers and lyrics of Santana songs, however, I quite agree that on this album their presence are, overall, IMHO, out of place with and even detract from the spirit of the rest of the music. And while many of Carlos' extended solos are backed by simple two-chord repetitions, the band is always jamming their hearts out?they're in the same cosmic groove that allows Carlos to soar?and soar he does: The man is a true master of 'stumbling' upon incredibly catchy, melodic riffs while negotiating the fret board at seeming break-neck speed. Amazing talent. Truly a god channeling the divine!

I agree with Sean Trane: "Every Step of the Way" escorts the listener to a divine orgasm. Turn this one up to 11! It deserves a 6!

Wonderful album with outstanding work from Michael Shrieve, Neal Schon, Mingo Lewis and Greg Rolie?not to mention the Devadip!

5 star songs: "Waves Within," "Look Up (To See What's Coming)," "Song of the Wind," "Every Step of the Way."

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Send comments to BrufordFreak (BETA) | Report this review (#473175)
Posted Thursday, June 30, 2011 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars A confident step into fusion territory, Caravanserai does not jettison the salsa and psychedelic rock influences of previous Santana albums - both manifest themselves here and there at points - but it does amp up the jazz component of the band's music sharply, as well as putting a strong emphasis on the role of percussion in the group's composition, with no less than four percussionists taking part. Of course, Carlos Santana himself still plays exceptional lead guitar on this, but his solos play less of a central role this time - despite the group bearing his name, this album is very much a band effort, to the point where Santana doesn't even get a songwriting credit on all the songs. A credible entry to the fusion world, as well as a decent attempt at large-group fusion of a sort experimented with by only a few artists. I don't think it's quite as iconic as the great milestones of the fusion genre, or Santana's previous two albums, but it is extremely strong nonetheless.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#497852)
Posted Friday, August 05, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars A remarkable album this one, and among the early Santana greats. This time he reveals his spiritual side and it's essential for those into the Santana legacy. Younger fans of prog music however, simply must listen to these albums! This was Santana's fourth release and also the end of his old band. Greg Rollie and Neal Schoan would go off to form Journey, and this couldn't be a better swan song. As I said, Santana's own personal and spiritual growth were a big part of the mood of the album but the same great guitar is there, as well as the same jazz rhythms, latin percusion and beautiful keyboards/organ. The music still stays true to the spirit of what his music had been all along, vibrant, vital, and with a rawness he has been refining ever since. but they'd moved on a bit from tracks like "oye como va". It could be said that Caravanserai is a more mature record. "Song of the Wind" is an especially uplifting moment on the album with some of Carlos' very inspiring celestial playing. it's one of his best off any release. 4.5 is more accurate rating!

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Send comments to Frankie Flowers (BETA) | Report this review (#572687)
Posted Tuesday, November 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
Sinusoid
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I still don't know what kept me away from Santana for so long as listening to CARAVANSERAI made me think, ''Why didn't I pounce sooner?''. Santana's approach to the fusion genre (at least through here) offers more Latin music influence as well as a more laidback style. We're not boisterously hard rocking like on Chicago, it doesn't go at the speed of sound as Mahavishnu Orchestra does, and it isn't as jazz-textbook as Weather Report or Miles Davis. The tracks sound like they are interconnected with each other despite most of the album being instrumental. The tracks sound connected to each other as if the music is meant to take you on an adventure. Segues that start/finish songs sound like the rest stops and the songs themselves paint a picture of the surrounding environment if you choose to let them.

Sometimes, the laidback approach of tracks like ''All the Love of the Universe'' can stifle the flow of the album a bit, but there is something equally engaging to the point where you look down and realise the track is nearly over yet you felt it barely started. Songs like ''Waves Within'', ''Stone Flower'' and ''Look Up'' make you lose a sense of time rather convincingly. In keeping with some of the songs' mood, the singing is usually as laidback only achieving any power on ''Just in Time to See the Sun''. Auxiliary percussion is the secret weapon of the whole album as Santana use those pieces in abundance to the point where ''Future Primitive'' exclusively showcases them.

In true prog rock fashion, everyone is waiting for the nine minute endcoming, ''Every Step of the Way'', and there is good reason to. CARAVANSERAI really builds up to this track although the climbing is not constant. Let's just say that the beginning of the song sets the tension and gets the listen pumped about what might happen. Then that bliss comes when it finally explodes and everything before makes complete sense.

CARAVANSERAI is a highly cherishable journey in the jazz-prog world. If you're into prog rock and want a jazzier listening experience, find the room and time for CARAVANSERAI.

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Send comments to Sinusoid (BETA) | Report this review (#629783)
Posted Friday, February 10, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars For jazz fans and fans of jazz/rock fusion, 'Caravanserai' is their best.

Santana get close to a track-for-track classic here, and it's exciting to see them do so. During the departure of Schon and Rolie (guitar and piano & organ respectively), this line-up of the band had Santana and drummer Shrieve firmly at the helm in creating a mostly glorious jazz fusion album that stretched far beyond anything Santana had created to date.

It's a bold move that probably frustrated record executives looking for another 'Black Magic Woman' to no end. From it's atmospheric opening 'Eternal Caravan Of Reincarnation', complete with crickets, double bass and an almost tortured sax intro, it spoke of the change to come. The album is full of fantastic guitar work and impressive rhythm playing, along with the Latin percussion that was to be expected and the thoughtful work of Shrieve, who was obviously channeling 'Maiden Voyage' with the track 'Waves Within', easily one of the best on the album. A Shaft-esque moment with 'Look Up (To See What's Coming Down)' is followed by one of the only vocal tracks on the album, 'Just in Time to See the Sun.'

Most songs run together into terms of mood and structure, forming movements or suites that are generally highly effective. As ever, Carlos' soloing is exceptional, especially on clear album highlight 'Song of the Wind' which is a work of art. Stunning stuff. Side One ends with 'All the Love of the Universe' another track with vocals, and the to-be-expected fiery guitar work.

Side Two is where the songwriting dips for me, and prevents the album from going to five stars. It opens with 'Future Primitive' and while it treads similar ground in some way as the album opener (if eventually more frantic) the idea is not as effective the second time around, even if it does provide nice symmetry. This track is followed by probably the weakest vocal cut 'Stone Flower' and is in turn followed by the racing rhythms of 'La Fuente del Ritmo', which is vaguely reminiscent of 'Toussaint L'Overture' from 'Santana III' but with space for some nice electric piano soloing from Costa. 'Every Step of the Way' closes the album, and is not ineffective by any means, but doesn't feel as strong as the rest of the album to me.

A worthwhile addition to any jazz-rock-lantin fan's collection, and a real creative high point for the band. Just don't buy this one if you're only looking for a collection of their (wonderful) radio hits.

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Send comments to dreadpirateroberts (BETA) | Report this review (#714314)
Posted Saturday, April 07, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Released by Carlos Santana in 1972, CARAVANSERAI is the final culmination of the jazzy works of the band. Never again did they reach this level of Jazz Fusion and Rock excellence. From the opening background noise of the crickets you know you will be going on a trip with Carlos and the band through the Sahara Desert of wonderful sounds. There isa not a bad song on this album and no wasted space or time. Basically a perfect Jazz Fusion recording. Too bad the band was not able to repeat the sucess again. Derserves all the praises the reviewers give to it.

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Send comments to mohaveman (BETA) | Report this review (#733661)
Posted Friday, April 20, 2012 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
4 stars Santana really jumped the shark with this "Caravanserai", a jazz fusion landmark, which is more like Tangerine Dream's atmospherics in places, than the customary blasting lead guitar jamming Santana fans may have become accustomed to. The sun soaked atmospheres emblazoned on the cover really highlight the mood of the album. The tribal percussion punches are a main feature, pounding throughout and even inundating the sound with Africana relish, such as on Future Primitive. Then there are Arabian flourishes that may conjure images of a lone desert scape with a camel making its way across arid sandy mirages.

We hear the desert scape with nature's sounds in Eternal Caravan of Reincarnation, and then the low hum of the sun's rays with fluttering flute, until the chimes glisten over cooling down the heat, with swells of keyboard echoes. All the Love in the Universe is a spiritual journey that moves inexorably to a climax, along a bass pulse, finally breaking into a song and then an insane instrumental break with Carlos lead and Gregg Rolie's Hammond battling for supremacy.

The music flows along organically in the first half with not too many breaks from one track to the next and encapsulates the power of desert ambience. It is a soulful, at times moving journey, and always completely challenging musically. Santana never returned to this style again so it remains a solitude wilderness album, a desert island album literally pulsating with energy. When the guitar is to be heard it comes in a flurry of power at the hands of mighty Carlos such as on Stone Flower, with Rolie's Hammond shimmers and vocals that echo in the distance.

La Fuente Del Ritmo continues the quest to find the oasis, the water of life, with chaotic piano and cymbal splashes, and the congas and bongos are never far around the corner. The groove locks into frenetic tempo as the lightning fast hands on the congas attack. Carlos' lead work is exceptional, enigmatic over the arousing African beats. The improvisatory piano runs are competing against the manic tom toms, and then the Hammond blasts return like rain falling into the oasis.

It all leads ultimately to a 9 minute extravaganza 'Every Step Of The Way', opening with gentle percussion, with Hammond answers, and the threat of a cascading guitar phrase. As far as jazz fusion goes this really hits the target. Santana take their time getting to the meat, and taking great pains to build up to a crescendo. This is a tense experience at times, and at three minutes it finally breaks into a downpour of grooving bass and drums as lead guitar swoops like a hungry vulture. Once the vulture is airborn everything melts into the sunshine of the soundscape. The sound of a bird twittering floats overhead and then flutters down into swathes of keyboards and a wonderful brass sound that builds to a climax.

"Caravanserai" is sheer musical poetry and one of Santana's triumphs; certainly one of their most famous albums and will continue to challenge and move listeners for decades to come; a timeless treasure.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#849207)
Posted Friday, November 02, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Caravansarai is the ultimate Santana record. There is nothing really new going on: Santana is still playing latin fusion with some pop attitude, but they did it so much better then on their previous releases making this one far more essential. The music is wonderfully well visually shown on the album cover: a mystical trip through the dessert. Also their pop attitude is brought down to a much better degree and the progressive fusion is brought to the front. Every member seems to play effective: no solo trips, but only in case of the atmosphere and this really pays of. A lot of percussion and a more abstract way of songwriting; a great dynamic approach; a perfect production: just very good fusion and Santana's most progressive effort.

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Send comments to the philosopher (BETA) | Report this review (#915886)
Posted Tuesday, February 19, 2013 | Review Permalink

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