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1 stars What a crap. This massive album (it was a triple LP) does not has much to recommend it: the band is lethargic, lacking Santana's distinctive energy, the overall performance is uninspired and the old classics are played without passion. The worst thing is: this particular Santana incarnation was a great one, plenty of great musicians. I don't know what's went wrong, because the studio versions of these songs are without exception more interesting than the live ones, making "Lotus" a disposable album. I wonder how US, Brittish or Brazilian Santana fans felt when they paid a lot of money for a Japanese copy of this album when it was originally released, since it was available only on Japan and, I beleive, Germany, specially when you think this was his first live album. Avoid it, except if you're a completist or a Santana fanatic.
Report this review (#95626)
Posted Wednesday, October 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Well, I happen to like this album. It is one of the few I have on CD by Santana, and has a lot that I like. Perhaps the sound quality could be a bit better, and perhaps some of the performances are not as inspired as they could be, but on the whole I think it is quite good. I tend to prefer CD 2 as it is more instrumental than CD1, but both are pretty good. For the most part, with the exception of the Caravanseri material (and Black Magic Woman) I prefer the versions here to the studio versions. The vocalist I dislike however, so a lot of the vocal material that he sings on is less than enjoyable for me (he is much worse on Moonflower though). All in all, a pretty good live album that I think is worth hearing for any Santana fan.
Report this review (#95748)
Posted Thursday, October 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars At the time of release (1974), it was the first official live album from Santana. It was recorded at Osaka on July 3rd and 4th, 1973.

It is a pity that Caranvanserai is not more representedand since they haven't released a "legacy" one for it. I'm afraid we won't get more live performances form this wonderful album. This tour was the Welcome support but Santana will only play two numbers from it : "Going Home" and "Yours Is The Light").

At that time already, Carlos was very mystical : look at the leaflet inside the double CD with lots of religious pictures : from catholic to buddhist; to be convinced. This tendancy will only increase and start to be a bit unbearable during the concerts.

There are some very good live moments on this album : "Every Step of the Way", "Gypsy Queen", "Yours Is the Light", a samba version for "Samba Pa' Ti" which I like very much even if it is quite different from the original. It is really a samba during the second half. I like it a lot in this version.

There are some stupid cuts in great songs : why did they play "Batuka" for 54 seconds ? On top of that, there's no way to tell that it is a part of the original song ! "Stone Flower" only features the introduction which is also a pity for this great track. It should have definitely deserves more.

There are quite a few weak and unknown tracks as well : "A1Funk", "Xibaba", "Mantra", "Kyoto" (with long drum solo) , "Mr. Udo" and "Free Angela") : these all together reach about thirty-two minutes (25% of the album).

At last, there are some average ones : "Going Home", "Black Magic Woman" due to the poor vocals otherwise it is good, "Waiting", "Castillos de Arena", and "Samba De Sausalito".

All in all it is not as bad an effort as it is often said but Santana will produce better live efforts later on.

Considered that 25% is poor, another 25 is average and 50% are good to very good, my rating is three stars.

Report this review (#111562)
Posted Saturday, February 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A triple LP album can rarely be a coherent and justified release. Especially when it contains almost the same style of music, tempo and performance all the way through. Still, Santana was at the time of this release a highly effective live act and they could simply do no wrong in terms of stage commitment, energy and confident performance. Alas, such an amount of music like here on "Lotus" contains many unnecessary elements, so one can only imagine what could have happened had it been released as a single LP record. Aside from the boring moments and dubious motives for Japanese-only 3LP record, "Lotus" still contains some brilliant moments and the live rendition of "Incident at Neshabour" alone would justified its purchase. This is a large half-empty and awkward bag that contains few brilliant items.
Report this review (#126258)
Posted Monday, June 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Perhaps I have an unusual take on this album. I am not a Santana fan, but a fan of progressive music. While I passively enjoy Santana's hits, mostly becasue of their 60's and 70's sound textures, I am very excited about this live album. The sound quality is definitely not the clarity of digital recording in the present day, but I compare it to the murky mystery of "Yessongs." Here is a band with a lot going on melodically and rhythmically, just an explosion of music going on, and the collusion of sounds makes for a surprising and delightful listen.

The ornamentation added by the synths and other keyboards reminds me very much of Miles Davis during the Bitches' Brew sessions and performances soon after. There is is the sense of an organic music being played, song based, and yet stretching for something more, with delicious and well-timed noise interrupting what would otherwise be fairly repetitious arrangements.

Many of the songs on the album flow together as extended instrumetnal suites. "Yours is the Light" shines here in a way that I think the more vocally-oriented album version does not.

The pretense of the "All religions are one" album packaging forces a gasp of laughter out of me, but I can reach back into the 70's and admire the idealism that spawned such a choice. This is one of the good guys, no matter how silly the expression of that seems to our sophisticated, irony-obsessed culture.

"Lotus" is a statement of transcendence, using the building blocks of ordinary songs to create something far more. I think that project succeeds, even decades later.

Report this review (#135375)
Posted Wednesday, August 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is with no doubt the best Santana live album. Sometimes a little bit curious (the audence's applauses are poorly mixed, there are a lot of new tracks like Xibaba, Castillos De Arena or A-1 Funk, we can sometimes think this could be a fake live album - it's not the case, of course), Lotus is also totally perfect, I speak, musically. In one track (Every Step Of The Way), the sound is so violent that when Carlos Santana plays, you could almost feel your ears bleeding !

Very mystical album, like a sensational and mystical journey. Santana was in his 'meditation period', in 1974, and this is probably the masterpiece from this period. And one of the most sensational live albums ever made. To be played loud, and straight from the first track to the last (two hours of show) !

Report this review (#164149)
Posted Monday, March 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
5 stars This triple live album originally recorded in in Osaka, Japan over two night in early July 73, was intended as a Japan-only release, but soon found its way worlwide as an import, as far as vinyls are concerned, something that stopped with the Cd re-issue. For the rest of the world, Moonflower was released in 76 instead, and it was a strange mix of live and studio tracks, and it has its charms as well. Lotus catches the Santana band between its two more or less stable period, as there are still embers of the first line-up, and not everyone of the second period (Amigos) is there yet. Coming in with a very elaborate fold out artwork, this album rivals with Yes' Yessongs in terms of number f discs (3 each) and complex artwork, only to be topped by Chicago's quadruple Carnegie boxset. As usual in that hippie era, the artwork of the band is slightly esoteric, mainly due to Carlos' Yogi enrolment and while the illustrations are quite kitsch, they'll not likely convert anyone either.

Starting with a Japaneseintroduction, the group licks with a homage to Alice Coltrane with a wurlitzer and a wink to the Illuminations album. The,n plunging into the ecstatic 12-minutes finale of Caranserai, one wonders if Santana is not laying down its trumps too early in the game, but which fan is not won over by these early sure-fire numbers. Then the band pulls out even more sure crowd favorites like the trio Magic:Gypsy and Como tracks from the Abraxas album.... After Yours Is The Light (Welcome) and a few more less remarkable number, the group launches into an adventurous medley (normaly taking up the whole second vinyl disc) of tracks with Casilleros jumping into Free Angela (Davis) and Sausalito and a then unreleased antra track (now a very-welcome bonus on the Welcome album), showing that Santana is not only extremely tight, but loves tricky and complex times sigs and great jazz-rock solos.

The second disc offers the end of the Castillos De Arena medley opassing through a 10- minutes drum solo (the album's only weak point, really) in superb fireworks of notes from the whole group. A second set of three Abraxas tracks, including the much expanded Accident At Neshabur and Samba Pa Ti come in to close the set, before the encores including an explosive Toussaint from their third album.

In Lotus, we've got Santana at their near-best and Lotus is now a 2 Cd set that must be considered the most essential live Santana along with the 68 Fillmore. The only flaw of this album is that it doesn't offer double thespace to put everything else we'd love to hear from Carlos'boys, includinf Jingo, more Caravanseari and somůe Borboletta (almost forgotten here)

Report this review (#243398)
Posted Wednesday, October 7, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Lotus" is the first live album release by US Jazz rock/fusion act Santana. The album was recorded on the 3rd and 4th of July 1973 in Osaka, Japan and released through Colombia records in May 1974. The original vinyl version (which was meant to be a Japanese only release) is a trible vinyl while the most common CD version is a double disc release. There is a Japanese trible CD version available too which was released in 2006. The song selection comes from the albums "Abraxas (1970)", "Santana 3 (1971)", "Caravanserai (1972)" and "Welcome (1973)". There are also a couple of new tracks that hadn´t appeared on any of the earlier studio albums. The lineup consists of a mix of the members from the original Santana group and the members of the post-"Caravanserai (1972)" Santana lineup.

The music on the album is focused on the instrumental jazz rock/fusion songs from the band´s discography while the already few vocal based tracks in the discography are even fewer on "Lotus". The most famous of the latter type "Black Magic Woman" is of course featured though. The musicianship is outstanding on the album. There is such an obvious joy about playing music which is contagious to say the least. The tracks from the excellent "Caravanserai (1972)" album are absolutely stunning in the live versions. A track like "Every Step of the Way" is simply smoking hot and about to catch fire, but the tracks from the other albums are excellent too. There is only one weak point about the album and that´s the 9:58 minute long drum solo. I have never found drum solos or any solos without music playing underneath very interesting and this time is no exception. The drum solo is of course played with virtuosic skill but I still find it hard to appreciate because it´s so long. Guitarist Carlos Santana is given lots of spotlight and his floating organic guitar solo style graces most songs. The latin percussion is as prominant as ever in the music and the keyboards/organ playing by Tom Coster really brings a lot to the sound too.

The sound quality is excellent. It´s one of those productions that draws you in and won´t let go. Organic, live and well sounding.

"Lotus" is an excellent testament to the skills and playfulness of the 1973 Santana group. A shining example of jazz rock/fusion with a human face/touch and an organic and emotionally captivating sound. A 4.5 star (90%) rating is deserved. Don´t miss out on this one if you enjoy the Santana studio albums from that time.

Report this review (#248214)
Posted Thursday, November 5, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Santa - Lotus (live) (1975, recorded in '74)

This is an ambitious effort by Santana + band. The artwork is more then impressive (the vinyl version which I own keeps on unfolding until my complete floor is covered by it's spiritual drawings). This muchness is also present on the music itself: three lp's, six sides of live music. This counts to almost two hours of music, which is very much for a live album.

The release shows us a lot of different sides of Santana. It's main focus is of course guitar oriented Latin rock with a lot of percussions and organ-sounds, but there's so much more. I think this is Santana's most experimental (and thus progressive) release to date. There are a lot of psychedelic passages, furious solo's, strange atmospheres, great key-solo's reminding a bit of Herbie Hancock and of course the percussion solo's. So there's Latin (with that acceptable feel-good vibe), Jazz-rock (with some free-jazz influences time to time), psychedelic (more then any other Santana release) and some prog. All this different influences and styles are served without almost any moment of pause, so the listener really get's that 'there's a band playing in my room' feel.

I didn't like the recording when I first listened to the album, but I can't really see way now. I did get new speakers in the meanwhile and the album sound truly great, especially when you've taken into account it was recorded in 1975.

Most of the material is very interesting on this record, but it starts of a bit slow. The long silence in the beginning and the bit frustrated psychedelic sounding guitar playing of Santana on the first side of the album might scare some away, but Santana recovers quickly playing sensitive guitar solo's on enough other tracks. I myself like the furious solo's in the beginning, but it might be a matter of taste. For new listeners I do recommend to listen to side two - side six first.

Conclusion. This is a lot of Santa. Because of it's brave fusion of different styles it might be appealing to a lot of different members of our community. People interested in jazz-rock, psychedelic music and guitar oriented music might be particularly interested in this album. Vinyl collectors may never skip on it's beautiful packaging. Of course fans of Santana might find their favorite live album, but some might find this to be to extreme and fanatic. I myself think it's a live album that's a bit too long (today is the first day I listen to all six sides), but all material is high quality and it's brave and experimental approach on playing a live set is worthy of four stars for sure. After the masterful Caravanserai this is my favorite Santana release.

Report this review (#272366)
Posted Tuesday, March 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars I've really been "on the fence" you could say when it comes to my rating for this one. I already own two other live recording from SANTANA which I like better than this one in "Live At Fillmore" and "Moonflower" but what draws me to this one are the extended jams where the percussion, guitar and keyboards really impress. It's almost pure bliss at times.The negatives include the length of this recording. Originally this was released as a triple LP and yes there are some so-so tracks, but also I find the sound quality lacking. It's not poor although it is on the rare occassion,and the two other live albums I mentioned sound better. So overall I feel 3.5 stars is closest to my comfort zone. If this was the only live document from back then i'd bump it up, but as I mentioned, the 1968 and 1977 releases are excellent.

"Going Home" features floating organ as drums and other sounds help out. "A-1 Funk" has some crazy synth sounds as drums and organ join in. "Every Step Of The Way" opens with the guitar sounding too loud and raw. Up until now I haven't been too into this recording and my first positive response is before 4 1/2 minutes when this song settles in. Electric piano to the fore 6 1//2 minutes in followed by organ 8 minutes in then guitar. The next three tracks are their hit singles I guess you could say then we get the jazzy "Yours Is The Light" which i enjoy. "Xibaba" has percussion galore as the organ joins in.The band are just ripping it up before 3 minutes. "Waiting" has lots of percussion as the organ floats in. Electric piano before 4 minutes.

"Free Angela" again has guitar that doesn't sound right. "Sambi De Sausalito" sounds better when the keyboards come to the fore. "Mantra" is experimental to start then it settles around 2 minutes. I like the electric piano, organ and drums. Guitar 5 minutes in and Carlos gets passionate.Great tune. "Kyoto" opens with a drum show. Some crazy synths come in before 6 minutes as the drums continue. It's spacey and experimental 8 minutes in. Another amazing tune !

"Incident At Neshabur" is great because of the way they jam.The guitar is on fire. It settles around 6 1/2 minutes. Keyboards take over after 9 1/2 minutes then the guitar returns. "Se A Cabo" rocks pretty good with lots of percussion. Prominant bass late. "Samba Pa Ti" is guitar led until 4 minutes in when electric piano takes over.The giuitar is back 5 1/2 minutes in. "Mr. Udo" has so much going on with all these intricate sounds.

A good live album no doubt, but it's not without it's issues.

Report this review (#458710)
Posted Thursday, June 9, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars As far as 1970s rock excess goes you can't really get more excessive than Santana's psychedelic rock marathon 'Lotus', a triple-disc live offering featuring over over one-hour- and-fifty-minutes worth of music spread out over twenty-two tracks that originally was conceived as a Japan-only release. The epic running-time dwarfs many of the most ambitious rock records of the era, making seemingly-endless prog concept albums such as Yes' double-sided paean to the Shastric scriptures 'Tales From Topographic Oceans' and Genesis's similarly-sized prog opera 'The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway' seem brisk and economical in comparison, an achievement that is no easy feat.

The year is 1974. Latin-psych rock gods Santana, still dazed and star-kissed by the success, both critical and commercial, of their soon-to-be-seminal albums 'Santana', 'Abraxus', 'Caravanserai' and 'Welcome', are riding a wave of kudos that has seen them become one of the decade's most recognisable and popular acts, both on record and in the live arena, throughout the Americas into Europe and beyond. The group, headed by the liquid-fingered guitarist Carlos Santana, were performing another series of sold-out series of concerts and their focus at this time would be on the quickly-expanding, near-fanatical and highly lucrative Japanese market with Osaka the next stop on the seemingly never- ending road of gigs, parties, label events and recording sessions. Across three steamy nights, Santana's seven-man line-up lit up the city arena with a densely-mystical rendition of their jazz-and-latin spiced brand of psychedelic rock, stretching, bending and injecting hit tunes such as 'Black Magic Woman', 'Gypsy Queen' and 'Samba Pa Ti' with a raw sense of creativity and improvisational ability in that way great musicians seem to be able to when clutched in the heart of a live rock event. 'Lotus' was, after all, a product of the now long gone time of the 'name' musician, a time when rock music was at it's limitless apex, musicians enabled to push the boundaries of the limited pop formats of yesterday into boundless wonder whilst adoring audiences cheered their heroes with sycophantic glee. Santana, the temporary rock gods that they were, lap up the good vibes enveloping their every pore and blast forth the show of their lives. Such was album's impact and popularity that soon import copies began to make their way across the long seas to Britain, North America, Germany, Australia, Canada and France in all it's triple-gatefold glory. 'Lotus' is Santana in full-flowing, awe-inspiring mode, a mode that wouldn't again be reached on their upcoming studio albums that would slowly-but-surely decline in quality as the seventies wore on, punk began it's bloody cull and the eighties started to rise up in the distance like a panting, slavering, neon-coloured dog ready to devour the last vestiges of creativity an originality. 'Lotus', therefore, is two significant items. Firstly it is one of the great live rock albums of all time; secondly, it is the last great Santana album. Beauty tinged with sadness, brilliance filled with inevitability. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2011

Report this review (#549178)
Posted Thursday, October 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars With Santana at the peak of its mid-70s jazz-fusion direction, Lotus has to go down as an opportunity missed. First, the mixing of the album is terrible - it's as if the sound engineer decided that it was Carlos' show and the guitar would be the loudest instrument whatever else was going on. There are sections when Tom Coster is in inspired form on the electric piano but you can barely hear it owing to the over-loud guitar riffs. It's a similar story with the percussion, which needs to be up from on any Santana album. I would love to get my hands on the original source and remix this one. Second, performance wise, it's a mixed bag. With so much material, there is of course some good material played well: Incident at Neshabur is perhaps the highlight, although the version of Toussaint L'Overture isn't half bad (despite the need to dial the guitar back a notch). Other parts, however, sound laboured. Leon Thomas is barely used as a vocalist, which is a shame given some of the outwardly scat-singing he was capable with when performing as part of Pharoah Sanders' band - you just catch a bit of it on the penultimate track, Mr. Udo. Much of the interesting material from Caravanserai is left unused or - as in the case of Stone Flower - only partially performed. I can't help but wonder if the band never really mastered that material in its live format? So, all in all, disappointing given the possibilities that a post-Caravanserai live album could have delivered.
Report this review (#2231848)
Posted Wednesday, June 19, 2019 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is simply one of the best rock/jazz-rock/fusion live albums of the 70's. All musicians are in top shape, tightly playing, inventive and willing to take extra mile to please listeners. The sound quality is phenomenal for the 70's.

The choice of compositions can be considered as best of Santana from the first classic era (all four hits from the second album) as well es more challenging instrumental music.

While the first half keeps things more down to earth(apart from "Every step of the way" and until the last couple of recent short fusion tracks), the second half of the album digs deeply into Latin fusion sophistication introduced by perfect bass/drum driven expirental and hypnotic "Mantra", Drum soloing in "Kyoto" that slowly evolve into the pinnacle "Incident at Neshabur" that sums up the instrumental prowess in mere 16 minutes. Absolutely breathtaking and there is no resting at laurels with "Samba Pa Ti" and "Toussaint l'Overture".

Although this album clocks at almost two hours, it is filled with excitement, innovation, progression and quality in every single minute of it. A must have for any Santana fan and also serves as a good introduction point to illustrious career of the band.

Report this review (#2343537)
Posted Wednesday, March 18, 2020 | Review Permalink

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