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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 identi...
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Buy SANTANA Music


Corazon (Deluxe Edition CD/DVD) (Amazon Exclusive)Corazon (Deluxe Edition CD/DVD) (Amazon Exclusive)
RCA 2014
Audio CD$13.17
$9.79 (used)
The Best of SantanaThe Best of Santana
Sony 1998
Audio CD$3.69
$0.01 (used)
AbraxasAbraxas
Remastered
Sony 1998
Audio CD$3.42
$1.15 (used)
SantanaSantana
Remastered
Sony 1998
Audio CD$3.72
$2.54 (used)
Ultimate SantanaUltimate Santana
Arista 2007
Audio CD$5.54
$2.18 (used)
CaravanseraiCaravanserai
Sbme Special Mkts. 2003
Audio CD$2.78
$2.78 (used)
SupernaturalSupernatural
Import
Bmg/Arista 1999
Audio CD$0.98
$0.01 (used)
The Essential SantanaThe Essential Santana
Sony Legacy 2013
Audio CD$8.29
$11.59 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
Santana & McLaughlin: Live at Montreux 2011 - Invitation to I DVD Region 1, NTSC US $9.80 Buy It Now 31m 58s
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32m 56s
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1h
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1h 22m
Santana - She's Not There 7" Single US $3.23 [0 bids]
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Live at Fillmore 1968 by Santana US $4.10 Buy It Now 1h 29m
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2h 38m
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SANTANA -- Their 3rd Classic release -- 1972 LP US $5.00 Buy It Now 2h 57m
Carlos Santana Record Album Albums LOT 3 Records US $125.00 Buy It Now 3h 9m
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3h 10m
SANTANA - Dance Of The Rainbow Serpent (3 CD Box Set) US $35.47 Buy It Now 3h 12m
The Anthology Deluxe Edition by Santana CD, Jul-2008, 2 Discs, button US $9.99 [0 bids]
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SANTANA Beyond Appearances JAPAN AUTHENTIC MINI LP CD NEW SICP-2879 US $31.99 Buy It Now 3h 39m
Santana & McLaughlin Love Devotion Surrender SEALED USA 1973 GATEFOLD LP US $26.99 Buy It Now 3h 42m
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v/a Stereo Demonstration LP - Santana / Chase / Jones - Columbia C 10930 SEALED US $9.99 [2 bids]
3h 45m
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3h 51m
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4h 6m
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Supernatural by Santana (CD, Jun-1999, Arista) US $2.99 [0 bids]
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4h 15m
SANTANA I'M THE ONE WHO LOVES YOU 12" COLUMBIA SINGLE PROMO 1985 US $6.99 Buy It Now 4h 15m
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4h 27m
Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics of All Time by Santana (CD,... US $1.99 [0 bids]
4h 29m
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4h 37m
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5h 14m
SANTANA "Shape Shifter" LP Sealed + MP3 Download US $24.33 [0 bids]
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Jorge Santana Self Titled - Malo Lead - Tom 7020 Tomato Cutout - Latin Rock US $9.99 Buy It Now 5h 35m
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Santana Viva Santana 3 Album Trifold With Booklet 1988 Record US $49.99 [0 bids]
5h 39m
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Santana--Santana self-titled LP--1975 Columbia CS-9781 Nice copy cheap! US $3.99 [0 bids]
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Greatest Hits by Santana (CD, Nov-1992, Columbia (USA)) US $2.99 [0 bids]
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SANTANA Classic Rock LP US $8.99 Buy It Now 6h 13m
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6h 23m
Santana CS9781 US $29.99 [0 bids]
6h 24m
Santana album US $39.99 [0 bids]
6h 25m
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6h 35m
MILAGRO by SANTANA US $5.00 Buy It Now 6h 37m
Santana Moonflower Double LP US $1.02 [0 bids]
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6h 44m
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santana III and santana abraxas 8-track tape. US $1.99 [0 bids]
6h 48m
(LP) ''SANTANA / 1ST LP / 1969 COLUMBIA RECORDS US $3.99 [0 bids]
6h 51m
(CD) ''SANTANA'' / ABRAXAS / 1969 COLUMBIA RECORDS US $3.99 [0 bids]
6h 51m
All That I Am by Santana (CD, 2005, Arista) US $2.99 Buy It Now 6h 53m
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SANTANA: III Third Album, Original Press, Columbia KC 30595, EX Vinyl US $10.00 [0 bids]
7h
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7h 17m
Inner Secrets by Santana (CD, Feb-2008, Sony BMG) US $3.99 [0 bids]
7h 26m
Supernatural, Santana, Very Good Import US $5.00 [0 bids]
US $7.00 Buy It Now
7h 42m
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8h 3m
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SANTANA shows & tickets


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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)

4.10 | 242 ratings
Santana
1969
4.24 | 347 ratings
Abraxas
1970
3.95 | 183 ratings
Santana 3
1971
4.24 | 463 ratings
Caravanserai
1972
3.46 | 101 ratings
Welcome
1973
3.62 | 122 ratings
Borboletta
1974
3.25 | 89 ratings
Amigos
1976
2.57 | 62 ratings
Festival
1976
2.37 | 61 ratings
Inner Secrets
1978
2.81 | 58 ratings
Marathon
1979
2.98 | 56 ratings
Zebop
1981
2.31 | 38 ratings
Shango
1982
1.42 | 37 ratings
Beyond Appearances
1985
1.93 | 26 ratings
Freedom
1987
2.79 | 27 ratings
Spirits Dancing In The Flesh
1990
2.84 | 25 ratings
Milagro
1992
3.17 | 118 ratings
Supernatural
1999
2.46 | 51 ratings
Shaman
2002
2.21 | 31 ratings
All that I am
2005
1.95 | 30 ratings
Guitar Heaven
2010
3.71 | 41 ratings
Shape Shifter
2012
2.90 | 10 ratings
Corazon
2014

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

3.80 | 69 ratings
Lotus
1975
3.78 | 77 ratings
Moonflower
1977
3.15 | 22 ratings
Sacred Fire (Live In South America)
1993
3.85 | 36 ratings
Live At The Fillmore, 1968
1997

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

3.13 | 8 ratings
Viva Santana!
1988
4.24 | 13 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)

2.73 | 22 ratings
Greatest Hits
1974
3.44 | 16 ratings
Viva Santana!
1988
3.00 | 1 ratings
Hits Of Santana
1990
4.00 | 2 ratings
Santana (Collection)
1994
3.50 | 11 ratings
Dance Of The Rainbow Serpent
1995
3.00 | 2 ratings
Love Is You (A Love Song Collection)
1995
3.63 | 11 ratings
The Ultimate Collection (2CD)
1998
3.49 | 3 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
4.00 | 2 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
3.05 | 3 ratings
Ultimate Santana
2007
0.00 | 0 ratings
Greatest Hits (Steel Box Collection)
2008
4.09 | 2 ratings
Origina Album Classics (Caravanserai...)
2008
3.25 | 3 ratings
Collections
2009
2.75 | 4 ratings
The Essential Santana
2013

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

4.00 | 2 ratings
Evil Ways
1969
3.05 | 3 ratings
Sampler from The Serpent
1995

SANTANA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Welcome by SANTANA album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.46 | 101 ratings

BUY
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.

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 Abraxas by SANTANA album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.24 | 347 ratings

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Abraxas
Santana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by siLLy puPPy
Prog Reviewer

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.

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 Santana by SANTANA album cover Studio Album, 1969
4.10 | 242 ratings

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Santana
Santana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by siLLy puPPy
Prog Reviewer

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

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 Origina Album Classics (Caravanserai...) by SANTANA album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2008
4.09 | 2 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.

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 Inner Secrets by SANTANA album cover Studio Album, 1978
2.37 | 61 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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 Santana by SANTANA album cover Studio Album, 1969
4.10 | 242 ratings

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Santana
Santana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

5 stars The release of the 1978 AOR-themed studio album 'Inner Secrets' signalled the end of an era for Santana, the group's incendiary mix of latino-rock, jazz and psychedelia finally put to bed after a remarkable run that began nine years earlier in San Francisco. The line-up of Gregg Rolie(keyboards, vocals), Carlos Santana(guitar), Jose Areas(percussion), David Brown(bass) and Michael Shrieve(drums) would prove to be the first great incarnation of the group, and the five-piece would enjoy a pretty sensational start after their headline-grabbing performance at that year's happening Woodstock festival. Thanks to the sizzling live set and clever timing on behalf of the label, 1969's 'Santana', the group's self-titled debut, quickly found an audience, its distinct mixture of sounds and styles fitting in nicely with the burgeoning West Coast scene of the late-sixties. Eventually, 'Santana' would reach No.4 on the US Billboard charts. Influenced strongly by the group's live style, the album would rely largely on the group's instrumental prowess, taking on a jam-band aesthetic peppered with Santana's searing electric solo's, Jose Areas' ghostly percussive streaks and Rolie's stinging organ runs. Two singles, the jaunty 'Jingo' and the funk-rock cut 'Evil Ways', were culled from the album, and although 'Jingo' failed to chart, an edited version of 'Evil Ways' peaked at No.10. A thrilling slice of early rock fusion, 'Santana' was a highly-successful debut, although the group would quickly leave behind that album's sound in favour of the more studio-refined 'Abraxas', and the jazz-fusion trio of 'Caravanserai', 'Welcome' and 'Borboletta'. In between, the triple live album 'Lotus' was issued, culled from a series of Japanes gigs from 1973, though originally it was released as a Japan-only issue. Nevertheless, it would prove to be one of the year's most popular imports throughout both Europe and North America. This selection of albums, from 'Santana' right up to the half-live, half-studio double-disc offering 'Moonflower' from 1977(essentially a European version of 'Lotus') equals all that is good and great about Santana. Later albums with differing line-ups and modern sounds would simply pale in comparison. Of course, it is arguably 'Abraxas' and 'Caravanserai' that find their group approaching their sonic apex, yet all are recommended. One of the truly great rock groups. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2013

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 Marathon by SANTANA album cover Studio Album, 1979
2.81 | 58 ratings

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Marathon
Santana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by zeqexes

3 stars This album's pretty good - not great, but not dreadful at all (as some people seem to label it). It's not at all like Santana's early jazz-inspired recordings - Marathon is basically a collection of funky pop songs. There's not a whole heap of Latin influence either - which is quite disappointing, but that's not to say that the songs on this album are bad. Most of them are catchy and would be enjoyable for a fan of early 80s pop, but if you're looking for jazzy Santana with long solos, then avoid this album. One track I found quite annoying in particular is "Love". For me, this is a 2.5/5 album; it's alright. So I guess that's rounded up to three.

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 Caravanserai by SANTANA album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.24 | 463 ratings

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Caravanserai
Santana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by the philosopher

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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 Santana by SANTANA album cover Studio Album, 1969
4.10 | 242 ratings

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Santana
Santana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Santana's debut album finds Carlos and crew setting the pattern for the first few releases by the band before their Caravanserai-era incorporation of fusion influences. The skill with which the band are able to infuse the major rock modes of the day - psychedelia on the one hand and Cream-inspired blues rock on the other - with distinctive Latin influences is what makes the album. Not afraid to stretch out and jam, always aware of when it's time to cut back on that and get back to business, the album shows a fine sense of balance between freewheeling experimentation on the one hand and technical prowess on the other, with a warm atmosphere which stops the musical performances from becoming clinical or alienating. In short, it's one hell of a party album.

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 Shape Shifter by SANTANA album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.71 | 41 ratings

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Shape Shifter
Santana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

4 stars Well, let's face it, despite being an absolute fan of the band's 70's works, I hadn't really paid much attention to the band's output since the mid-80's (outside some of the reviews I wrote here a few years ago), so I was definitely not expecting much from this new album, that I thought would be much like its recent predecessors (3 or 4 in the last 15 years). Actually if I hadn't read somewhere that this album was a mainly-instrumental affair, I probably wouldn't have even given it a shot before a few years. Despite an unpromising title, the Amerindian artwork seemed encouraging enough and the promo sticker specifying that the album had been 20 years in the making did prompt me to stick the CD directly in my car's deck. Wow, what a complete blast it was' I actually had to pop out the disc to make sure that the previous library user hadn't switched inadvertently discs. Nope!!! This was for real.

Past the gentle guitar intro and light Indian chants of the opening title-track, the heavy Hammond and Spanish guitar build such a progressive atmosphere that you'd swear that Borboletta or Caravanserai are just about to pop up in your speakers. And the magic does pop or rock) by, your brains frying as if you were back in 74. OK, the modern sound production won't fool you long: namely the drumming which simply can't possibly match the Shrieve or Narada Walden of yesteryears; but it is close enough for happiness. Followed by a calm fusion piece Dom, the album avoids the usual traps, mainly by remaining vocally silent - how many otherwise-fine albums are ruined by over-sweetish voices and horrendous love lyrics. The searing and most-energetic Nomad is the peak of the album, but only its third highlight. Simply awesome: Carlos, where were you in the last three decades??? After the fairly cheesy Metatron follows (the first flesh-failure of the disc, despite some fiery Carlos licks), it is relatively obvious that they want to revisit their Amigos days, with some sultry soft Latin fusion with Angelica Faith (co-penned by Chester Thompson) and Never The Same Again. Another winner is the Walden co-penned Light Of A New Day. As the title might indicate, Spark Of The Divine revisits the most esoteric and reflective/calmer moments of the band's oeuvre.

The next two tracks are aimed at Carlos' Hungarian buddy guitarist Gabor Szabo, but the mood seems to be more aerial than what the two compadres were enjoying in the first years they'd met: the former having a bit of string island bossa-cheesiness, while the latter is an obvious homage to Gabor. Slowly building on its percussive energy, the album explodes again with the enthralling Eres La Luz, the second sung track, overflowing positive energy (the rhythm suggest Supernatural/Shaman era slightly, but with much more class than 12 years ago), just like the Santana of old and more-recent was always doing. With another typically sultry Santana mood track Canela and ultra-slow Sweet Dancer to close out the album, Calos and the boys have sent us flying alongside the rainbow of felicity, like they hadn't in a very long time.

Easily the band's best album of the last 35 years (if you'll except the brilliant solo Carlos albums Oneness and Swing Of Delight), but SS is also the band's proggiest album since their golden era. Despite the album losing some of its initial energy after five tracks, Shape Shifter still retains plenty of momentum and a seal of quality that very few albums released in 2012 achieve (and this is a good year too), and this might just make it climb on the edge of my top10 of the year. Hopefully, now that they've found the know-how back, it won't take the band nearly 20 years to come back with an equally excellent album.

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