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Santana Zebop album cover
2.96 | 108 ratings | 9 reviews | 6% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1981

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Changes (4:27)
2. E Papa Re (4:32)
3. Primera Invasion (2:08)
4. Searchin' (3:54)
5. Over And Over (4:46)
6. Winning (3:28)
7. Tales Of Kilimanjaro (3:24)
8. The Sensitive Kind (3:32)
9. American Gypsy (3:39)
10. I Love You Much Too Much (4:43)
11. Brightest Star (4:49)
12. Hannibal (3:41)

Total time 47:03

Line-up / Musicians

- Alex Ligertwood / lead & backing vocals
- Carlos Santana / lead guitar, percussion, backing vocals, coproducer
- Chris Solberg / rhythm guitar & backing vocals (3,4,6)
- Alan Pasqua / keyboards, backing vocals
- Richard Baker / organ, piano, synth
- David Margen / bass
- Graham Lear / drums
- Orestes Vilatˇ / timbales, percussion, backing vocals
- Raul Rekow / congas, percussion, backing vocals
- Armando Peraza / bongos, percussion

Releases information

Artwork: Richard Stutting

LP Columbia ‎- FC 37158 (1981, US)

CD Columbia ‎- 477790 2 (1983, Europe)
CD Friday Music ‎- FRM 37158 (2011, US) Remastered

Thanks to Sean Trane for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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SANTANA Zebop ratings distribution

(108 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(6%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(19%)
Good, but non-essential (50%)
Collectors/fans only (22%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

SANTANA Zebop reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars After the surprising (and cornerstone) album of Marathon, this albumhad me completely worried with its highly unusual (for Santana) artwork which was a little too trendy for me, not to ring a few alarm bells. And from the few I heard on the radio, it was actually confirming my fears. Santana had indeed moved to the 80's also and were trying to survive.

I was definitely not a fan of the Cat Stevens cover Changes and even now I still have an uneasy twitch when I hear it, although I must admit it it is less the case nowadays. Maybe it aged better than I thought it would. It is a feeling that can be applied to the whole album actually. E Papa Re is a typical 80's Santana Latino-rocker, while Primavera Invasion is an indication that the 70's group was still there with all its power. But unfortunately this album holds its share of much lesser tracks (dare I say stinkers?) such as Searching (a hit for them) and its execrable twin Winning (the other hit of it) with an awful 80's feel. Kilimandjaro might just be the highlight of the album, and Sensitive Kind is your typical 80's Santana separating another excellent rocker American Gypsy. The closing Brightest Star and Hannibals end the album in a better fashion than it started.

Having re-listened to the album these last few weeks, I must say that it is not as bad as I remembered it (bar the real stiiiiiiiiiiiinkers), but it will remain an 80's thing with short tracks (meaning the duds are so also) with it's fair share of repeatings (Much Too Much reminding yopu the cheesiness of Amigos what's been said before. Hardly essential and maybe the low point in the group's career (until recently), but many groups would love having their worst albums as good as this one.

Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars On "Zebop!" SANTANA tried to resurrect the sound of the 1970 but with not so successful results. First of all, a presence of too many covers (R. Ballard, J.J. Cale) tells about creativity crisis, at least as far as composing is concerned. Furthermore, these covers are bad, very bad, in a horrible AOR style. As the matter of fact, all vocal tracks are bad and you simply want to skip them right away. Still, there are several good (but not excellent) moments, mostly instrumental ones - Latino rock "E Papa Re", very good standard jazz- rock in "Primera Invasion" and "American Gypsy", while only "Tales of Kilimanjaro" stands out and ranks among the best compositions in SANTANA's catalogue. Overall, this is largely negligable effort, and these few good moments cannot earn it full 3 stars.
Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This album has had a very few reviews so far but I have to say this was Santana's best out of the 80's studio works. Musically, production wise, everything shines on this album. OK there are cover versions of JJ Cale ' Sensitive Kind' and a few more ' Changes' being another. Carlos Santana's guitar work is so polished on Zebop it is hard to find fault with the album. The album starts with the AOR opened called ' Changes'. Alex Ligertwood supplying ample decibels in the vocal department.' E Pape Re' follows and is a reminder of a bygone ' Abraxas' era. But again this is new and fresh, great chorus throughout. The fourth track ' Searchin' is great too as it nags away at you trying to find that tangible finite place. CS delivers all the necessary guitar skills to take you on the ride. ' Over and Over' is a bit repetitive but still likeable but the jewel on this album is the closer to side one ' Winning'. This has to be one of Santana's best commercial songs. A must listen!! Side two of the vinyl is consistently strong. ' Tales of Kilimanjaro' has all the normal trademark Santana percussion, ' Sensitive Kind' is almost better than the original and ' Brightest Star' even hints at some laid back ' Samba Pa Ti' type rythms. Highly underrated work and recommended to all Santana fans regardless of those sadly much cursed 80's influenced sounds. A solid four stars.
Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars I really did not expect anything great from Santana any longer. I must admit though that since "Amigos" I have been suffering like hell in listening to their work ("Moonflower" hlding only a few studio tracks). But maybe this one would be an album of another kind ?

The opening track shows no good thing : accoustic guitar intro and an almost gospel vocals. Very poor and not really encouraging (although there is some great guitar work at the end). A very, very poor opener.

The intro for "E Papa Re" sounds like the one of "Taboo - back to Santana III !". This feeling only last for about 45 seconds. After that, we get a crapy disco/soul track like Santana has been used to since "Inner Secrets". Very good guitar again during the last minute or so.

"Primera Invasion" reminds me of My Santana : fantastic ryhtm and percussion. One of the highlight here. Unfortunately as on other albums, the best track is way too short : just above two minutes (it happened already in "Inner Secrets" with "Life Is A Lady" and "Wham!", as well as with the title track "Marathon"). This track reminds me of ... "Abraxas" and "Santana III". I must be dreaming !

I have to admit that with "Searchin" we are still in good territory (vocals are not a highlight though on this number). A good latin-rock track with a very emotional guitar part. This is heaven !

Just to bring us back down to earth : "Over And Over" is as awful as the disco influence on Santana could have been. Terrible. The following track "Winning" is as bad as the previous one. There are little words to describe this : just have a listen and you'll find out by yourselves. We are on par here with their two previous works.

The next track "Tales Of Kilimanjaro" is a good jazz-rock Santana tune. I have to say that it has been a long time that so many good tracks have been released on one album (some "Moonflower" studio track back in 1977). But Santana is really playing with our heart in mixing so much poor and great moments. "Abraxas" mood again.

"The Sensitive Kind" is another good song. A bit reminiscent of "Black Magic Woman", you know when Santana was gorgeous... The latin rythms back again : strong percussions and fabulous guitar. What else do we need from Santana ? "American Gypsy" keeps on with the good old latin percussions and rythms. Incredible rythm. Good keys as well. You'll have to get up and dance on this one.

I can not count how many efforts Carlos did to reproduce "Samba Pa'Ti"(it must be the eight's one since ""Life Is A Lady/Holiday" on Innner Secrets" was the seventh one). "I Love You Much Too Much" is as beautiful of the other ones, a very nice Santana song. Fabulous guitar and good backing band. You see, I am quite easy to please : just put me an average song with good Carlos feeling, and on my way : I will follow.

"Brightest Star" has a beautiful guitar intro, and one can only regret that this is not another full instrumental song (but since Gregg left ages ago, vocals have always been a poor side of Santana). I really wonder how Carlos recruited these singers ! Apart from this weakness, it is another good song (I must be dreaming : at least seven good tracks on a Santana album) ! What a good news ! Finally Carlos is back to business for the biggest joy of fans like me (and some other ones, I guess).

"Hannibal" is not their worse closing number (but it is not very good either).

After two disastrous albums, this one has the merit to propose several good (even great) songs, which was scarcely the case for the last four years. It is a return to the old sounds of which I am so found of. Even if this album is not as good as its legendary predecessors it is a quite decent one. It is a pity though that some tracks are so weak. Still, three stars.

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Santana's work is often heavily criticised starting from late 70-s, and there are some reasons for that. From the other hand, not everything is so bad.

Zebop is quite competent album from early 80-s. Santana is trying to return back to his early 70-s sound, and some songs sound as replicas (Hannibal,etc). There are some covers as well, from which JJ Cale's "The Sensitive Kind" isn't bad at all. The sound is softer and more rounded, than in his early years, and strong Latin-fusion influence feels in all album's music. But at least his guitar work is almost as great as in his best albums.

Musicians played are not all so great, but I like Alex Ligertwood vocals and Baker's some organ passages. Percussion is competent as well. Not on the level of his best works, but still very listenable and characteristic Santana's album.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
3 stars Don┤t let the trendy cover (which looks too much like Duran Duran type of album) fools you. With Inner Secrets and, especially, Marathon, Santana did start to go AOR. Well, that was happening to a lot of bands at the period (Kansas,Styx, Journey, etc.) and this album follows the pattern, although on Zebop Carlos decided to bring back as many elements of the "old" Santana sound as possible, so lacking on Marathon. The intro with Cat Stevens Change shows it boldly: a new arrangement with lots fo latin percussion and a great guitar solo at the end. So, with the remaining tracks, we have a kind of a double personality case here: sometimes you find the band still trying hard to emulate, and succeeding, Journey (maybe with a little more percussion): Searching, Over and Over and The Sensitive Kind are the most obvious ones, with singer Alex Lingwood proving he could be as similar to Steve Perry on both timbre and delivering as so very few people can, while tracks like Primera Invasion, Tales of Kilimanjaro and Hannibal are so much "classic" Santana they would not sound misplaced on Abraxas or Caravansarai.

Zebop is the album more known for their 1981 hit Winning. This superb version of the Russ Ballards title track of his second album was a big hit all over the world, and deservedly so. But fortunately Santana decided this time to give us a CD with much variety and a combination of the new and old sound. Maybe too varied, though. Sometimes Zebop makes you think there are different bands playing on the same LP, since they seemed unable to mix the two styles on the same tracks. Still, the high quality of the songs is quite what made Santana survived the 80┬┤s with more ease and dignity than most of their peers. Therefore, with all its faults, the album aged well and still sound enjoyable and well made so many years after its release.

Rating: 3,5 stars.

Latest members reviews

2 stars Santana's improvement and his best album since maybe 1977' Moonflower. Not only compositions are better but there are sound trips back to the beginning of the 70's, of course with more decent set-up and no reason to experiment. Some tracks are pure pop (well executed), the second half of the reco ... (read more)

Report this review (#2343574) | Posted by sgtpepper | Thursday, March 19, 2020 | Review Permanlink

4 stars SANTANA's best 80's album, for sure! After the release of a serie of excellent album's at the early 70's, SANTANA enters the 80's, having a dissapointing heritage of 2 albums, that are full of lack of fresh ideas. The band was starting to become predictable and sometimes boring. But ''Zebop!' ... (read more)

Report this review (#463715) | Posted by FatalV | Saturday, June 18, 2011 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Carlos goes horribly wrong. The beginning of the 1980s witnessed the move into AOR and the quest for radio airplay from all directions. From prog to jazz. Carlos Santana and his band Santana came flying in from the fusion/jazz/latino genre and landed in radio-friendly AOR land with this albu ... (read more)

Report this review (#366346) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Tuesday, December 28, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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