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Santana Spirits Dancing In The Flesh album cover
2.78 | 53 ratings | 5 reviews | 4% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1990

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Let There Be Light/ Spirits Dancing In The Flesh (7:30)
2. Gypsy Woman (4:30)
3. It's A Jungle Out There (4:32)
4. Soweto (Africa Libre) (5:07)
5. Choose (4:13)
6. Peace On Earth...Mother Earth..Third Stone From The Sun (4:23)
7. The Sun (4:23)
8. Full Moon (4:33)
9. Who's That Lady (4:13)
10. Jin-Go-Lo-Ba (4:52)
11. Goodness And Mercy (4:32)

Total time 52:48

Line-up / Musicians

- Alex Ligertwood / lead (2,3,6,8) & backing vocals, guitar
- Carlos Santana / guitars, vocals & tambourine (5), narrator voice (1), co-producer
- Chester Thompson / keyboards, Hammond B3 & horns (3,9), backing vocals (5,8,9), co-producer
- Benny Rietveld / bass (2,5,7,8)
- Walfredo Reyes / drums, timbales, percussion
- Armando Peraza / congas, bongos, percussion

- Tramaine Hawkins / lead vocals & narrator voice (1)
- Stephen King / lead vocals (1)
- Walter A. Redmond / vocals (1)
- Bobby Womack / lead vocals (3,5)
- Vernon Reid / guitar (6)
- Devon Bernardoni / keyboards (1)
- Paolo Rustichelli / piano & keyboards (7)
- Wayne Shorter / soprano & tenor saxes (4)
- Alphonso Johnson / bass (1,4,9)
- Keith Jones / bass (3,6,10)
- Francisco Aguabella / congas (9)
- Raul Rekow / congas & vocals (9)
- Orestes Vilató / timbales & vocals (9)
- Kevin Dorsey / backing vocals (2)
- Oren Waters / backing vocals (2)
- Jim Gilstrap / backing vocals (2)
- Phillip Ingram / backing vocals (2)
- Rashan Hylton / backing vocals (9)
- Hugh "Sweetfoot" Maynard / backing vocals (9)
- Edwin M. Harper, Jr. / choir director (1)
- Charisse Dancy, Sandra Hunter, Marjo Keller, Lynice Pinkard, Lovetta Brown, De Anna Brown, Kevin Swan Butler, Darryl Williams / choir (1)
- Peter Wolf / arranger, co-producer

Releases information

Artwork: Diego Uchitel (photo) with Bob Venosa (logo design)

LP CBS ‎- 466913 1 (1990, Europe)

CD CBS ‎- 466913 2 (1990, Europe)

Thanks to Sean Trane for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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SANTANA Spirits Dancing In The Flesh ratings distribution

(53 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(4%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(9%)
Good, but non-essential (42%)
Collectors/fans only (36%)
Poor. Only for completionists (9%)

SANTANA Spirits Dancing In The Flesh reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
2 stars The return of the famous logo and a gorgeous artwork (reminiscent of Santana's third album) had some effect on this old Santana fan, so I rushed to the store to hear it. Unfortunately I was cruelly deceived by it and actually waited for the library to acquire it and only listened to it much later in the decade, and only once in the new millennium for this review.

After a blistering opening track (even if the very start is borderline cheesy), a real awful Gypsy Woman (mostly very cheesy ballad) and a very average Soweto and the execrable Choose (with those typical 80's drum samples), the album sinks without much popping to your attention. Only the Peace On Earth instrumental seems to inject some life in anotherwise fairly boring album. Most of the rest of the tracks (such as the usual Full Moon,) glides on the shell of my indifference and other irritates me beyond belief, such as the Michael Jackson inflected but Isley Bros-penned Who's That Lady. Even the live version of Jingo does not save the album from sinking and the closing track is indifferent.

Don't get me wrong this album is not really that much worse than others he made, but its album sleeve is really deceptive, maybe inducing some kids in error. Best avoided really!!!

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars Santana turns now more into gospel / negro spiritual with the opener. The opening "suite" features horrible vocals although the instrumental part is quite good I must say : great rythm (as Santana was used to produce in the early days) and very good guitar work fom the master. Again, this number should have been an all instrumental one.

The mellow and syrupy "Gypsy Queen" is really weak, while the funky "It' s A Jungle Out There" won't increase the quality of this album so far (good guitar breaks, which saves it from being mediocre).

A track as "Soweto" appears here as a "highlight" : a good latin-rock ballad in the first part with harmonious and emotional guitar, while the tempo increases after two minutes featuring good sax. It ends in a sort of jazzy jam which sounds not too bad. "Choose" is another weak funky song. Well, this is not really better than the previous "Freedom" album.

The final instrumental part of "Peace On Earth..." is great, but that's half a track !

"Full Moon" is also not too bad a number. The thenth in the genre with reminiscence of "Samba...". Even if this may seem a bit too much to try and reproduce the anthological number, it's always one of their best songs of the subsequent album. This one is no exception (actually, I will do my "Samba Pa'Ti" compilation to be able to get some great Santana moments again).

"Who's That Lady" is probably the worse track of this album (but it is very difficult to define which one is worse than the other one : there are plenty of choices) !

Next song, appears as an anomaly : a live version of "Jingo" (studio track from their first album, back in ... 1969). Although it features some wierd piano and "vocal" parts, at least it has some rythm. But this tribal version is just average.

The mellow live instrumental "Goodness And Mercy" is not the worse of the album.

I will rate this album bit higher than most of the last Santana albums I have reviewed thanks to some good intrumental numbers (or half-numbers). But this is for die-hard fans of these musical moments. Otherwise, just stay away from this album.

Review by Gooner
4 stars No hits on this CD...but isn't that necessarily a good thing while listening to Santana? Well, yes and no. One must remember, this album came out in 1990...a relatively dull year for any kind of progressive music and generally the height of popularity of what we knew on the airwaves back then as _hair metal_. In comes Santana with _Spirits Dancing In The Flesh_. It's a crossroads between Marathon-era Santana and the afro-funk of _Milagro_ with an ode to the first 2 Santana albums of the '60s. Simply put, the track _Peace on Earth...Mother Earth..Third Stone From The Sun_ would not have been out of place on the classic ABRAXAS. An explosive guitar track with a nod to Jimi Hendrix and the classic latin percussion in overdrive. Stellar vocals from Alex Ligertwood to boot! Wayne Shorter and Vernon Reid also guest on this album. A bit of fusion here, some hard rock there...this is a well-rounded Santana album and far superior than anything from Santana's output from '81-'87(notwithstanding _Blues For Salvador_). _Let There Be Light/ Spirits Dancing In The Flesh_ is track that would not have been out of place on either Santana's _Welcome_ or _Amigos_ albums, and the aforementioned were fusionesque in nature. _Soweto (Africa Libre)_ is another great percussive track on this album with in fine form. _Full Moon_ is a classic Carlos intrumental he's know for on soul fod, really. Of note, guitarists would really enjoy this album. Why this album is rated so slow...I'll never know.
Review by Chicapah
3 stars I jumped aboard the Santana bandwagon the minute I heard their debut album in the summer of '69 and stayed on until fall of '73 when they laid the unconscionable "Welcome" egg on the passengers, revealing themselves as mortal and capable of stupidly tripping on their bellbottoms. While they did make some amends a year later (with the uneven but decent "Barboletta" LP) for me the thrill was gone and I stopped buying their records on blind faith. In fact, it wasn't until a few years ago when I picked up a used vinyl copy of the double disc set from '77, "Moonflower," that I deliberately sampled anything from the group released between the mid 70s up through 99's "Supernatural." That's 11 studio albums from a band I like that I totally ignored for decades (which shows you how much I love and cherish their first four classic records). It's not that I thought all that much less of them; I just chose to spend my music budget elsewhere for 24 years. Yet "Moonflower" turned out to be a pleasant surprise so I thought I'd try my luck once again. Knowing full well it'd still be a crap shoot when it came to picking out one of those LPs I closed my eyes, grabbed at random and brought home "Spirits Dancing in the Flesh" from June of 1990. It's no masterpiece by a long shot but, in comparison to the slap in the face that was "Welcome," it's a gem.

First comes "Let There Be Light" and I admit that their having a gospel choir show up when the curtain raises is not what I expected. That bold move is certainly not bad in itself but it's what one chooses to do with them that counts and, in this case, they serve well as a lead-in to "Spirits Dancing in the Flesh," an invigorating jam where Carlos does what he's best at doing. He dutifully tears the place up with his guitar as the chorale slides in and out while remaining unobtrusive. The lively sparring between him and keyboardist Chester Thompson at the end creates flashy sparks. Their cover of Curtis Mayfield's "Gypsy Woman" follows and it's an inoffensive contemporary pop rock rendition that benefits greatly from Carlos' aggressive solo. Alex Ligertwood's vocal is utile but ultimately pedestrian (as always). Next an ominous note drones behind wild animal noises, setting the stage for "It's a Jungle Out There." Anticipation runs high for something ferocious to happen but it never does. Slick synthesizers give this fast-paced song a palpable Morris Day vibe and Carlos shreds convincingly but there's something contrived about it that keeps me from getting involved. "Soweto (African Libre)" is a smooth, flowing instrumental that has enough drive to maintain minimum momentum. The synthesizer and guitar rides are fine but the real standout is Chester's piano lead. It snaps and sizzles with gusto. "Choose" is a slice of funky west coast R&B typical of that era but, as before, it's Carlos' edgy licks that distinguish it from the average rabble.

"Peace on Earth...Mother Earth...Third Stone from the Sun" has all the earmarks of a great idea that fell a little short of achieving its potential. The beginning is from Coltrane and it works well as an extended atmospheric intro but the hard rock number that it segues into lacks conviction. It then evolves into the kind of Latino free-for-all the Santana ensemble so excels at. It's the coda consisting of a snippet of Hendrix's groundbreaking, transcendent theme-for-the-ages that stumps me, though. It seems totally out of context. "Full Moon" is a serene, light jazz piece with a glowing, romantic aura that emphasizes Carlos' gift for constructing melodic phrases without sacrificing his fiery attack. Unfortunately, that's the end of the paved road. An ill-advised remake of the Isley Brothers' "Who's That Lady" rudely punches a hole in this boat's hull and it starts taking on ballast quickly. Here their attempt to be trendy and modern falls flat due mostly to the poorly performed vocals and the anemic feel manufactured by the tinny electronic drums they employed for the track. I also don't get the point of the inclusion of "Jin-Go-Lo-Ba" by Babatunde Olatunji at all. It's nothing more than a revival of the same cut from their first album with some different African lyrics being chanted and that spells cop-out to me. The percussion breakdown featuring the amazing Armando Peraza on congas is cool and all but the song still comes off as cheap filler and that's not acceptable. The record ends with "Goodness and Mercy," a composition by Thompson and Mr. Santana captured live. It begins with some coy interplay between keyboard and guitar and then turns into a showcase for Carlos to strut his impressive stuff. Eventually heavy drums enter to provide some dynamics but, for some reason, the number ends somewhat abruptly without fanfare and leaves a vacuum. Ho hum.

While "Spirits Dancing in the Flesh" isn't the travesty I feared it might be, its mediocrity is probably representative of the ruts that Carlos and Company got too comfortable traveling in during the last quarter of the 20th century. I know that, especially in the Spanish-speaking community, Santana had an incredibly loyal, die-hard fan base that would rather eat raw escargot than to miss his annual tour through their town and the consistent cash flow that enthusiastic throng provided made doing the "same old same old" pretty inviting, I'm sure. The problem was that it also stifled any inclination for them to be adventurous or daring and the result was a whole lot of albums like this one where playing it safe ruled the agenda. Two and a half stars.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Spirits Dancing In The Flesh was Santana's last separate studio entry on the Columbia label, and the group's best album of the nineties. This record has nothing to do with dancing however. Instead, Carlos articulates some fairly profound philosophical ideas on this well-produced and lively ... (read more)

Report this review (#95688) | Posted by vingaton | Wednesday, October 25, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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