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SANTANA

Jazz Rock/Fusion • Multi-National


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Santana biography
Best known the world over for the group that bears his name, Carlos Santana has been reinventing and reshaping the landscape of the known universe's musical culture for close to four decades. A visionary artist with no regards for genre boundaries, Carlos' fluid sound long ago laid claim to the concept of "world music" before the term ever surfaced on pop culture radar. Having evolved and expanded for over four decades, the "Carlos" sound could well be on its way to becoming interplanetary music.

Born in Autlan de Navarro, Mexico-where there's now a street and public square in his name--to the son of a virtuoso Mariachi violinist, Carlos followed in his father's musical footsteps, taking up the violin at the age of five. It was when his family moved to Tijuana several years later, however, that Santana began his lifelong relationship with the instrument that would make him a musical icon--the guitar.

In 1961, Carlos made the border crossing moving from his native Mexico to San Francisco. A few years later, he formed the Santana Blues Band there, and the cool, soulful riffs and rhythms of his Latin-blues based sound found an audience eager for his innovative musical ideas. Carlos and company emerged as giants of the era-defining Bay Area music scene of the late '60s, and their fame grew far beyond its parameters while their artistry remained true to its free-flying spirit.

Massive success quickly followed. By the end of the decade, Carlos had played to packed houses on a cross-country tour, performed on the venerable Ed Sullivan Show, and made an indelible global mark with Santana's legendary, crowd-detonating performance at the original Woodstock festival in 1969.

He has not slowed down since: On a roll from his Woodstock performance his debut album shot up the chart bringing in a high-power fusion of rock and Latin beats. The next two albums duplicate the formula every time increasing his profile and winning over fans. With Caravanserai, the group changed directions developing a stunning jazz-rock and the album remains one of the textbook case of fusion music. This prompted Carlos Santana to start a solo career with collaborations with Buddy Miles, John Mc Laughlin (the superb Love, Devotion, Surrender) and Alice Coltrane (the no-less superb Illuminations), while his group was still releasing strong albums like Welcome, Borboletta. By the Mid-70's Santana was cruising effortlessly with a string of albums that were easily ide...
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Buy SANTANA Music


Santana IVSantana IV
Santana IV Records 2016
Audio CD$5.99
$7.98 (used)
AbraxasAbraxas
Remastered
Sony Legacy 1998
Audio CD$4.43
$3.21 (used)
The Best of SantanaThe Best of Santana
Sony Legacy 1998
Audio CD$4.43
$0.01 (used)
SantanaSantana
SBME SPECIAL MKTS. 2015
Audio CD$2.97
$2.95 (used)
Santana IIISantana III
Import
Imports 2009
Audio CD$4.68
$4.67 (used)
Ultimate SantanaUltimate Santana
Sony Legacy 2007
Audio CD$5.57
$1.49 (used)
SupernaturalSupernatural
Import
Sony Legacy 1999
Audio CD$3.63
$0.01 (used)
CaravanseraiCaravanserai
SBME SPECIAL MKTS. 2011
Audio CD$2.98
$2.97 (used)
Santana (Legacy Edition)Santana (Legacy Edition)
Remastered · Extra tracks
Columbia / Legacy / Sony 2004
Audio CD$9.99
$10.90 (used)
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ROCK THE WORLD VOL.3 Various CD 12 Track Featuring Deep Purple, Santana, Atomic USD $4.18 Buy It Now 8h 11m
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SANTANA La Puesta Del Sol CD 8 Track (cd97005) DUTCH Weton Wesgram 1997 USD $8.65 Buy It Now 8h 19m
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LP abraxas
SANTANA
~ USD $20.75
LP havana moon
SANTANA
~ USD $19.95
LP santana
SANTANA
~ USD $19.95
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SANTANA discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

SANTANA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.12 | 302 ratings
Santana
1969
4.24 | 441 ratings
Abraxas
1970
3.97 | 229 ratings
Santana 3
1971
4.24 | 569 ratings
Caravanserai
1972
3.48 | 129 ratings
Welcome
1973
3.69 | 149 ratings
Borboletta
1974
3.24 | 108 ratings
Amigos
1976
2.61 | 73 ratings
Festivál
1976
2.39 | 74 ratings
Inner Secrets
1978
2.79 | 71 ratings
Marathon
1979
2.96 | 71 ratings
Zebop
1981
2.32 | 51 ratings
Shangó
1982
1.56 | 45 ratings
Beyond Appearances
1985
1.93 | 32 ratings
Freedom
1987
2.80 | 38 ratings
Spirits Dancing In The Flesh
1990
2.88 | 36 ratings
Milagro
1992
3.15 | 147 ratings
Supernatural
1999
2.50 | 62 ratings
Shaman
2002
2.21 | 36 ratings
All That I Am
2005
1.91 | 35 ratings
Guitar Heaven
2010
3.69 | 53 ratings
Shape Shifter
2012
2.80 | 15 ratings
Corazón
2014
3.68 | 38 ratings
Santana IV
2016

SANTANA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.84 | 87 ratings
Lotus
1975
3.79 | 90 ratings
Moonflower
1977
3.22 | 29 ratings
Sacred Fire (Live In South America)
1993
3.90 | 37 ratings
Live At The Fillmore, 1968
1997

SANTANA Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.15 | 10 ratings
Viva Santana!
1988
4.26 | 15 ratings
Sacred Fire (Live in Mexico)
1993
3.00 | 1 ratings
Down Under, Live Australia 1979
2004
0.00 | 0 ratings
Every Tone Tells A Story
2005
3.00 | 2 ratings
In Concert (Loreley Festival in Germany 1998)
2007

SANTANA Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.77 | 26 ratings
Greatest Hits
1974
3.59 | 18 ratings
Viva Santana!
1988
4.33 | 3 ratings
Hits Of Santana
1990
4.33 | 3 ratings
Santana (Collection)
1994
3.94 | 8 ratings
Dance Of The Rainbow Serpent
1995
3.00 | 2 ratings
Love Is You (A Love Song Collection)
1995
4.00 | 10 ratings
The Ultimate Collection (2CD)
1998
3.56 | 5 ratings
Black Magic Woman, The Best Of
1999
0.00 | 0 ratings
Latin Spirit
2001
3.00 | 1 ratings
The Best Of Santana (Eurotrend)
2002
0.00 | 0 ratings
Roots Of A Living Legend
2002
3.75 | 3 ratings
La Puesta Del Sol
2003
3.05 | 3 ratings
Ceremony, Remixes and Rarities
2003
0.00 | 0 ratings
33 Real Rock Standards (Santana & guitar friends)
2006
3.13 | 4 ratings
Ultimate Santana
2007
0.00 | 0 ratings
Greatest Hits (Steel Box Collection)
2008
4.15 | 4 ratings
Origina Album Classics (Caravanserai...)
2008
3.38 | 4 ratings
Collections
2009
5.00 | 2 ratings
The Essential Santana
2013

SANTANA Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.80 | 5 ratings
Evil Ways
1969
3.00 | 4 ratings
Sampler from The Serpent
1995

SANTANA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Santana IV by SANTANA album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.68 | 38 ratings

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Santana IV
Santana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Progfan97402

4 stars I have not bothered with any recent Santana releases, in fact the most recent Santana album I own is Moonflower. So I was surprised to see much of the original Woodstock band is back for this, Santana IV. All except David Brown, who unfortunately passed away in 2000, and Jose Chepito Areas, for some reason or another couldn't be present. Neil Schon, though not an original member of the original band, makes a reappearance (it seems that Schon's guitar playing has a more distorted feel, and Santana's has a more clean tone, which applies for Santana III way back in 1971 as well). For the most part I found it surprisingly enjoyable. I love the album cover, it's very reminiscent of their 1969 debut, except now it's a tiger, rather than a lion. The LP version is embossed, with the Santana logo and the sharp fangs and eyes being embossed. To me it sounds like, well, more or less, an updated version of the original Santana band, basically with modern production values. "Yambu" has a rather distinctly African feel to it, while the next two songs "Shake It" and "Anywhere You Want to Go" is just plain great songs, even Gregg Rolie still delivering that trademark organ (although I'm sure he's using a more modern organ these days). Big surprise: "Fillmore East", obviously in honor of the venue in New York (I'm surprised it wasn't called "Fillmore West" given Santana's San Francisco origins). Santana goes a completely unexpected direction in the the world of Krautrock-influenced space rock. It's as if Carlos Santana (and perhaps Neal Schon) was channeling Manuel Gottsching. Listening to this, you'd wonder if you were listening to Ash Ra Tempel, Agitation Free or Amon Duul II. It's completely not what I expect out of Santana, but I love it. I have no idea how aware Carlos Santana is of the German scene, so for all I know, it's pure coincidence. Lovers of space rock need to hear this! Minor chords seem a bit rare in Santana, given its frequent upbeat manner, but here minor chords dominate, and it gives that spacy, eerie, ominous feel I don't usually associate with Santana. The next two songs, "Love Makes the World Go Round" and "Freedom Around the World" feature Ronald Isley (Isley Brothers, naturally), and while soul music isn't my music of choice, these two songs are surprisingly good, especially because it still has that wonderful Latin rock energy you expect out of Santana. "Caminando" is generally a great song, but I could do without those digitally replicated horn (sounds like it was from a workstation synth) which seems a bit tacky. "Blues Magic", is unsurprisingly a bluesy song, and a rather good one. I really felt the album runs out of steam towards the end though, and the last four songs are nothing to write home about. "Come As You Are" has a bit of a Calypso feel going on, and to be honest it's not to my liking. "Forgiveness" just seems like a rather self-indulgent number, although when the vocals kick in, it reminds me of Peter Gabriel. It's like the band sorta ran out of inspiration towards the end, but that's a common problem with double album sets. I have to say, when this album is great, it's wonderful. It might not reach the highs of the first three albums, but it's certainly a hellova lot better than having to put up with "Smooth" being overplayed to death on the radio (the big reason I never bought Supernatural, that, and the over-reliance on alternative rock and contemporary R&B musicians). So I'm glad it's not some star-studded cast found here like on Supernatural (only Ronald Isley was the major guest on Santana IV). A rather good album and worth having, even with a couple of weak numbers. Plus it has "Fillmore East" for all you space rock junkies.
 Amigos by SANTANA album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.24 | 108 ratings

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Amigos
Santana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Legionnary

3 stars I was interested on this Santana album especially to see if the pieces were all of the same ilk as the flagship title Europa . I was quite disappointed.

1:Composed of two parts, a vocal in first and then instrumental, it's a good piece, in line with the Santana atmosphere. The second part is entirely instrumental, rhythm percussion / drums gives something quite nice, very progressive compared to the rest of the album.(4/5)

2:Draft introduction, no transition with the first piece ! Again a piece in two parts, noticed something strange,like the first song,the two parts are not distinct in like "incident at Neshabur" for example. Besides there is the same composition here, the first part pretty energetic then all of a sudden falls, just like "Incident at Neshabur (Abraxas, 1970) and yes it is in the old pots that we make the best jams , unfortunately here not Pharaonic ... this second part still remains more pleasant to listen to the first one. (3,5)

3:Second point of similarity with the album Abraxas,in "let me" intro is the same as "el nicoyo!" Typically the kind of piece that could have come out in the 80s, very dance, ahead of his time, and as many pieces of the 80s, who aged very badly ... The song's lyrics are very silly and the voice of Greg Walker does not help matters, fortunately there accompaniment end guitar to limit the damage (3/5)

4:A nice intro on acoustic guitar background "gypsy", for once the voice of Armando Peraza is in line with the overall feel of the song (4/5)

5:"Tell me are you tired" Yes i'm tired ... the intro and the chorus could pass perfectly into an erotic film of the 90s very far from the "santana style" (2,5/5)

6:Attention masterpiece! Where to start? This piece could be a chronic him alone so it is mythical .Before talking about the piece itself, we must speak of the context, that is to say the rest of the album, which until then did nothing exceptional, in fact I think if a rock lover 70s fell on this album without knowing Europa (inconceivable) it would be awfully surprised! For the rest, what about? For me the most beautiful piece of guitar "planing" ever created. Few pieces that give me chills, this is one of them .If you do need to listen to one song of Santana,listen Europa, pure Santana talent ! (5/5)

7:After a trip to the moon,we fall back on Earth...after the best of the album, this is the worst. Of all the pieces of the 60/70 years that i have heard until now, this is probably one of those who has the most aged badly, a mixture of species between gospel and completely distorted synth leads on background Asian amnbiance, it's so horrible and annoying that it becomes funny to hear! The voice of Greg Walker is clearly a problem, it does not fit at all in the mood of the group. (2/5)

 Borboletta by SANTANA album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.69 | 149 ratings

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Borboletta
Santana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Quinino
Collaborator Errors & Omissions Team

5 stars My ALL-TIME Greatest #14

Hasn't aged a bit, it feels like it could have been recorded yesterday, but then again I think that generally speaking Fusion music eludes more easily the riddles of time.
And certainly is the case of this album from 1974 so well crafted, so inspired, that anyone can buy him tomorrow and be as amazed as I was 41 years ago the first time it landed on my pick-up (as turntables were called in those days).
Just don't expect this to be a typical Santana record, it's not.

Global Appraisal

I wrote "amazed" but would better say mesmerized because right from the first notes one gets immediately involved in a hypnotic ambient that remains for the entire album.
It starts building up with the dreamlike sound effects on the first instrumental track and never really subsides much due to the ethnic percussions, echo effects, Carlos sustained notes on the guitar, even the vocals.
Thus the production makes the songs function together, tied up by the continuous rhythmicity, resulting in the album being perceived as a unity despite the varied authorship.

Goodies

Production - Carlos Santana, Mike Shrieve, Tom Coster

Musicianship - all involved, see full credits

 Greatest Hits by SANTANA album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1974
2.77 | 26 ratings

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Greatest Hits
Santana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Progfan97402

3 stars Along with Pink Floyd's A Collection of Great Dance Songs, this is probably the most unnecessary compilation album ever. In the case of Pink Floyd, having just six songs hardly does the band justice. Especially when that album was being targeted for newcomers in 1981 (when it was released) who likely only knew them from there (still) then latest album The Wall. At least it featured an alternate version of "Money". With Santana's Greatest Hits, all the concentration lies on their first three albums, and nothing else. I understand that Carlos Santana wanted to move beyond scoring hit singles starting with Caravanserai, but it would have been nice if some material off that album, and Welcome was included since this comp was released in 1974. I guess the more fusion direction Carlos Santana was heading by 1972 thanks to his spiritual influence by Sri Chinmoy might seem out of place with the more accessible material from the first three albums presented here. I just think it's a case of releasing a compilation album a bit too early on. Still not a bad selection. Contains favorites like their popular take on Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac's "Black Magic Woman" but left out "Gypsy Queen", originally by Gabor Szabo, and of course Tito Puente's "Oy Como Va". "Se A Cabo", "Evil Ways", naturally, "Everything is Coming Our Way", but surprisingly "No One To Depend On" was not included. There are probably more comprehensive Santana compilations out there. For the case of this particular album, you're better off just owning their first three albums. In fact those three albums give a better idea what their early work was all about than Greatest Hits. So I have to give this a three star rating because of the selection, but owning the first three albums gives you a better picture.
 Santana by SANTANA album cover Studio Album, 1969
4.12 | 302 ratings

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Santana
Santana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Progfan97402

5 stars Santana's appearance at Woodstock certainly left the record company no choice but to quickly have it released. Santana was one of those classic rock groups I always had enjoyed, but given so much of my time had been taken up looking for rare and obscure gems of prog and psych, that I hadn't gotten around to getting much Santana. I am ever glad to get their debut, and what a debut it is! This one seems more rough and unpolished than their more popular followup Abraxas, which I really like. Much of the album is high energy Latin rock. This album shows how much the Afro-Cuban style of Latin rhythms are used, especially the heavy use of congas. Of course, the whole world knows about "Evil Ways", it's became a staple of classic FM rock, and for good reason. It's one of those songs that, yes, it's been overplayed to death on the radio, that it don't bother me, the way "Free Bird" and "Stairway to Heaven" bothers many people (songs that sound impressive when you first hear them, but after hearing those songs a million times since radio DJs never given those two songs a rest,, in fear of losing their audience it does get a bit tiring). I also love Gregg Rolie's style of Hammond organ playing. How about the other songs? "Shades of Time" seems to be cut from the same fabric. They do a cover of Nigerian musician Babatunde Olantuji's "Jin-go-lo-ba", retitled "Jingo" here. Lots of great organ and Latin percussion, I guess doing a song from an African musician drives home the fact the Latin rhythms Santana used were of the Afro-Latin variety. Pierre Moerlen's Gong did a version of it in 1979 on the album Downwind. "Persuasion" and "You Just Don't Care" have a bit of a blues feel to it, while "Treat" has a jazzy feel, demonstrating the jazz influence of Carlos Santana was to be found from Day One. "Soul Sacrifice" is an instrumental jam that became the big highlight at Woodstock. The music here has a jam band quality to it, but not the Grateful Dead variety. They threw in some regular songs (like "Evil Ways") so even more mainstream radio stations have something to play.

Of course, this album largely received positive reviews, but I can't understand why in the life of me rock critic Robert Christgau gave it a C-? I realize Latin music was something he never cared for, but this isn't ordinary Latin music. He pretty pretty much dismissed it as "A lot of noise" and stating his "opposition to the methedrine school of American music". He was sure off base on this one. Most of the other fellow rock critics were more kind. I realize I shouldn't pay much attention to the likes of Christgau, but then he's a perfect example of when rock critics get it wrong (and while I'm at it, usually when rock critics get it wrong is when they pan albums or bands that everyone else loves, sometimes it's the other way around, when they praise albums no one likes, such as the Stones' Dirty Work, liked by the rock critics, hated by the fans).

This might not be a prog album, but why should that bother me? Any fans of classic rock needs this album, it's totally essential, and in fact I actually prefer this over Abraxas (which is too very good, but the more polished nature meant it was a bit less exciting).

 Welcome by SANTANA album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.48 | 129 ratings

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Welcome
Santana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by ibnacio

4 stars Welcome again

I don't agree with other reviewers' rating of this superb record by Santana. We may not be in front of a piece the quality of Santana III or the mythical Caranvaserai, which, by the way, I tend to find more and more mythical, regarding its previous efforts and more to par with the following; anyway, I do think we are in front of a work as important in Santana's sound and style as Borboletta (that is, Volvoreta, a Spanish nickname for butterfy) or Abraxas.

There is a total renewal of the band line-up, with important changes: the twin keyboard players, as well as the twin percussionists, backing new solo appearances in the form of saxes besides Carlos' guitar. And there is also the much improved vocals (Flora Purim, Leon Thomas), some orchestration here and there (by Mrs Turiya Alice Coltrane) and starring appearances by the now twin-soul, like-mind Mahavishnu J.M. - in a glorious long theme inflamed by celestial inspiration as is Flame-Sky - or by the sax player Jules Broussard. The list is endless and altogether serves to provide a wall of sound -but this has always been a house brand in Santana- that you can laugh a Mr Spector expectations.

If the first two cuts let you a bit indifferent -they need more than a listen-, once you get to Samba de Sausalito you the fiesta is about to begin and it does not really stop until you reach the last gloom of Flame-Sky's fire. Welcome, the title track is a sort of anti-climax, which is now doubled by the bonus track Mantra, leaving you in a perfect state of mind and body after almost an hour of musical massage and trascendental meditation

Four well-deserved stars for Santana's fifth studio record, which will delight you as much as the previous or following ones.

Ibnacio, Somewhere in south Spain, 25 November, 2014.

 Abraxas by SANTANA album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.24 | 441 ratings

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Abraxas
Santana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars Continuing the huge success generated by their debut album and their instant stardom generated by the Woodstock Festival in August 69, SANTANA released their 2nd album ABRAXAS the following year pretty much following the same formula of mixing rock, blues and latin jazz.

The album was an even bigger hit than the debut hitting number 1 on the Billboard album charts and selling more than twice as many albums as well as hitting big with the huge hits "Oye Como Va" and the cover of Fleetwood Mac founder Peter Green's "Black Magic Woman." SANTANA was a worldwide phenomenon by now and their unique Latin big band sound was one of the hottest things going on at the time. As with the previous album there is an army of percussionists accompanying Carlos Santana's bluesy lead guitar and Gregg Rollie's keyboards.

Although this is a great album I have always liked it a tad less than the debut. It is lacking that incessant raw and fervent drive throughout its entirety that made the first album so amazing. The songs are more varied in their approach and the music is generally the same in its sound, yet something about this album just seems like a tamed down version of the debut as a whole. Whereas the debut was a energetic display of adrenaline from beginning to end, I find this one is dragged down a tad with slower numbers like the instrumental "Samba Pa Ti."

Nothing on here is bad by any means and it's only a relativity issue for me. It also hasn't helped that I have heard the hit singles on this album to death! Even after giving classic rock radio a break for many years, I still find "Black Magic Woman" a song I no longer like to hear. Make no doubt about it, it is a classic of classics but some music can become toxic after too many listens and this i'm afraid is one of those tracks that I haven't been able to recover from. Despite that an outstanding album that just doesn't reach perfection in my world.

 Santana by SANTANA album cover Studio Album, 1969
4.12 | 302 ratings

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Santana
Santana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

5 stars Nothing screams the summer of 69 and the Woodstock event for me more than SANTANA. One day they were simply the Carlos Santana Band doing small gig venues in San Francisco and the next day after performing at that event they were watching their debut album racing up the charts and reaching number 4 on Billboard. "Evil Ways" also proved to be a huge top 10 hit as well. This rags to riches story may have happened anyway but perhaps not so fast. Their slot on the Woodstock event was actually won by the flip of a coin. Michael Lang, the concert promoter was pressured by Bill Graham to include one of the the acts that Bill managed. It was down to SANTANA and It's A Beautiful Day, another San Francisco band. The coin was flipped, SANTANA won, and enjoyed instant popularity and as we all know, much more was to come.

This is gorgeous album from beginning to end. SANTANA started out as a jam band but was advised to write a few more structured songs by Graham. The result is a perfect mix of free jam energy with structured songwriting that the band perfectly performs knowing when enough is enough and to move on to something else. This new Latin jazz fusion of the day took the world by storm and with half of the band dedicated to percussive instruments it's no wonder the world was mesmerized by this energetic mix of Latin jazz, Afro-Cuban rhythms and heavy psych blues that tied it all to the era. This is one of those album I never tire of. It has a timeless quality to it yet it always brings me to that time and place before my time. My personal favorite SANTANA is this one and what a beauty it is. 4.5 rounded up

 Origina Album Classics (Caravanserai...) by SANTANA album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2008
4.15 | 4 ratings

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Origina Album Classics (Caravanserai...)
Santana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by DocB

4 stars This boxset offers a good low-cost way to acquire five of Santana's best albums. Some of the boxsets in this series leave a bit to be desired in terms of album selection, but this one is stellar. It includes in order of original release the core albums from Santana's jazz fusion phase: Caravanserai, Love Devotion Surrender (w/John McLaughlin), Welcome, Borboletta, and Amigos. Granted, Amigos is not a full-on fusion album, and bridged Santana back into Latin rock, but it has fusion elements and is a better album than many subsequent ones by Santana. Also, Amigos produced the tunes Baila Mi Hermana and Europa, which became part of the band's live repertoire. The CDs are packaged in LP-style slipcases, but with minimal information, though the box says to consult Sony's webpage for more information. However, the sound quality is excellent, using the latest 2003 remasters where available, for the first three albums, including bonus tracks. So this boxset is definitely a good deal. Now, if Columbia would release a similar boxset for Santana's first phase of Latin rock, including the first three studio albums, plus the Live At The Fillmore 1968 album, that would be nice.
 Inner Secrets by SANTANA album cover Studio Album, 1978
2.39 | 74 ratings

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Inner Secrets
Santana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

1 stars From 1978 onward, Santana would produce virtually nothing of note. And for a long time too. Despite the commercial success of the much-vaunted late-nineties all-star comeback album 'Superatural' and it's pair of facsimiled follow-ups, there has been precious little music to get excited about since 1977's 'Moonflower', a half-live, half-studio double-album which was essentially a compilation piece rounding up the best bits from the latin group's last three studio efforts 'Borboletta', 'Amigos' and 'Festival', all of which were issued between 1974 and 1976. Fans may not have guessed it at the time but 'Moonflower' would prove to be the very last musical breath of the Santana band's jazz-fusion age. Meant as a new kind of beginning, 'Inner Secrets' was issued at a time when Santana's commercial fortunes were starting to dwindle, with Carlos Santana himself now the only original member left. Although 'Moonflower' had been a success, the studio albums were faring less well, and the advent of punk-rock had brutally altered the rock 'n' roll landscape of the 1970's. The group's previous studio effort, 1977's 'Festival', had received a lukewarm response from both critics and fans, and this, coupled with the huge North American success groups such as Styx, Journey and Kansas were then achieving, all seemed enough to sway Carlos Santana into making wholesale changes in preparation for Santana's next phase of activity. As a result, a full year after 'Moonflower' 'Inner Secrets' was released, thus beginning a gruelling three-and-a-half decade-long artistic and commercial decline. They would release one more album during the 1970's, with the undistinguished 'Marathon' picking up where it's predecessor left off, before seriously losing the plot during the 1980's with a series of dreadful album covers adorning some almost- as-dreadful AOR albums. With their audience shrinking and each album consistently selling less copies than the last, synthesizers were introduced on 1985's desperate 'Beyond Appearances' and maintained for 1987's almost-as-flavourless 'Freedom', the group by now hovering desperately close to rock bottom. 'Spirits Dancing In The Flesh'(1990) and 'Milagro'(1992) failed to reverse the trend, and by 1993 Santana finally seemed done, the challenge of Nirvana and grunge almost beyond them. Of course, we all know what happened next - thanks Clive Davis and Arista - but we also know what happened between 1968 and 1977 when Santana produced some of the finest rock albums of the era. However, before you buy 'Inner Secrets', think about the chain of albums it set in motion, and realize that this is by no means the Santana we all knew and loved on 'Abraxas', 'Caravanserai' and 'Welcome'. Whilst 'Welcome' is seen as probably the last 'great' Santana album, 'Amigos' and 'Festival' can jointly be seen as the last decent Santana studio efforts. Both, of course, featured a slightly commercial slant, but they remained true to the jazz-fusion course set by it's predecessors and are both well worth a place in any proper Santana collection. They might not have been classics, but they positively kick-ass when compared to the soulless mainstream stuff found on 'Inner Secrets', an album that really did signal the beginning of the end. To put it finely, this is a cynical slice of corporate rock, a Santana record in name only. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2013

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