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Santana biography
Founded in San Francisco, California, U.S. in 1966 - Still active as of 2017

Carlos Humberto Santana Barragán - Born 20 July 1947, Autlan de Novarra, Jalisco, Mexico.

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 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 Illumination...
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The Best of SantanaThe Best of Santana
Sony Legacy 1998
Audio CD$5.35
$1.44 (used)
Sony Legacy 1998
Audio CD$5.72
$2.93 (used)
Santana IVSantana IV
Santana IV Records 2016
Audio CD$8.49
$3.19 (used)
Audio CD$3.69
$3.68 (used)
Ultimate SantanaUltimate Santana
Sony Legacy 2007
Audio CD$5.99
$1.20 (used)
Audio CD$3.74
$3.73 (used)
Santana's Greatest Hits (180 Gram Audiophile Vinyl/Limited Edition)Santana's Greatest Hits (180 Gram Audiophile Vinyl/Limited Edition)
Limited Edition
Friday Music 2015
$18.05 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
SANTANA "REVELATIONS" PICTURE SLEEVE 7 inch 45 1976 USD $5.13 Buy It Now 6m 41s
Golden Legends: Santana Live by Santana (CD, Feb-2006, Madacy Distribution) USD $4.99 Buy It Now 13m 47s
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16m 13s
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WOODSTOCK Soundtrack Copy 7" Reel Tape- Who Santana CSNY Joe Cocker Jimi Hendrix USD $16.00 [0 bids]
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Supernatural by Santana (CD, Jun-1999, Arista) USD $3.97 Buy It Now 2h 15m
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SANTANA AMIGOS Orig 1976 LP Gatefold EXCELLENT! USD $7.95 [0 bids]
2h 22m
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SANTANA Santana (self-titled) +2 bonus tracks USD $4.61 Buy It Now 2h 35m
Devadip Carlos Santana - Oneness: Silver Dreams ~ Golden Reality (Columbia 35686 USD $14.99 Buy It Now 2h 39m
Carlos Santana & Buddy Miles! Live! by Buddy Miles / Carlos Santana (CD, 1972) USD $49.95 Buy It Now 2h 39m
SANTANA Inner Secrets RECORD LP FC 35600 M-/MINT SOUND 1978 *Incredible Sound* USD $7.00 Buy It Now 2h 41m
Santana Jam CD USD $3.83 Buy It Now 2h 43m
Santana III by Santana (CD, Mar-1998, Columbia (USA)) USD $9.99 [0 bids]
2h 48m
Santana Festival LP Vinyl Record NM 1976 Original BL 34423 in Shrink Perfect USD $14.00 Buy It Now 2h 49m
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Santana Inner Secrets Columbia, 1973, Original Sleeve USD $12.00 Buy It Now 2h 52m
? Santana - Welcome (Taiwanese) USD $14.99 Buy It Now 2h 53m
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Havana Moon (1983) / Vinyl record [Vinyl-LP] by Carlos Santana USD $4.95 Buy It Now 3h
SANTANA supernatural tour 2000 tour programme - 28 pages USD $5.59 [0 bids]
3h 3m
Supernatural by Santana (CD, Jun-1999, Arista) USD $1.19 [0 bids]
3h 3m
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Spirits Dancing in the Flesh Santana Audio CD USD $3.99 Buy It Now 3h 18m
SANTANA S/T CD European Columbia 1998 12 Track Remastered Includes Bonus Live USD $6.99 Buy It Now 3h 18m
JUELZ SANTANA From Me To U CD German Rocafella 2003 20 Track (0044007705629) USD $6.99 Buy It Now 3h 18m
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Supernatural by Santana (CD, Jun-1999, Arista) USD $5.00 Buy It Now 3h 18m
SANTANA Right On CD German Polydor 1992 3 Track Radio Edit Promo B/W Somewhere USD $6.99 Buy It Now 3h 19m
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3h 22m
The Best of Santana [Columbia] by Santana (CD, Mar-1998, Columbia/Legacy) USD $3.75 Buy It Now 3h 26m
SANTANA ABRAXAS 7" REEL to REEL TAPE in BOX Columbia CR 30130 STEREO USD $21.25 [14 bids]
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SANTANA discography

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

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

4.13 | 346 ratings
4.24 | 523 ratings
3.99 | 259 ratings
Santana 3
4.23 | 642 ratings
3.47 | 147 ratings
3.67 | 166 ratings
3.25 | 123 ratings
2.70 | 85 ratings
2.49 | 85 ratings
Inner Secrets
2.82 | 82 ratings
2.97 | 82 ratings
2.42 | 61 ratings
1.67 | 54 ratings
Beyond Appearances
1.97 | 41 ratings
2.80 | 43 ratings
Spirits Dancing In The Flesh
2.90 | 42 ratings
3.17 | 163 ratings
2.53 | 71 ratings
2.20 | 43 ratings
All That I Am
2.36 | 43 ratings
Guitar Heaven
3.66 | 64 ratings
Shape Shifter
2.67 | 21 ratings
3.83 | 67 ratings
Santana IV

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

3.86 | 97 ratings
3.75 | 102 ratings
3.21 | 33 ratings
Sacred Fire (Live In South America)
3.91 | 44 ratings
Live At The Fillmore, 1968

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

3.18 | 11 ratings
Viva Santana!
4.26 | 16 ratings
Sacred Fire (Live in Mexico)
3.33 | 3 ratings
Down Under, Live Australia 1979
0.00 | 0 ratings
Every Tone Tells A Story
3.00 | 2 ratings
In Concert (Loreley Festival in Germany 1998)

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

2.79 | 28 ratings
Greatest Hits
3.59 | 18 ratings
Viva Santana!
4.33 | 3 ratings
Hits Of Santana
4.33 | 3 ratings
Santana (Collection)
4.00 | 9 ratings
Dance Of The Rainbow Serpent
3.67 | 3 ratings
Love Is You (A Love Song Collection)
4.00 | 12 ratings
The Ultimate Collection (2CD)
3.56 | 5 ratings
Black Magic Woman, The Best Of
0.00 | 0 ratings
Latin Spirit
3.00 | 1 ratings
The Best Of Santana (Eurotrend)
0.00 | 0 ratings
Roots Of A Living Legend
3.75 | 3 ratings
La Puesta Del Sol
3.05 | 3 ratings
Ceremony, Remixes and Rarities
0.00 | 0 ratings
33 Real Rock Standards (Santana & guitar friends)
3.13 | 4 ratings
Ultimate Santana
3.00 | 1 ratings
Greatest Hits (Steel Box Collection)
4.21 | 5 ratings
Origina Album Classics (Caravanserai...)
3.38 | 4 ratings
5.00 | 2 ratings
The Essential Santana

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

4.00 | 6 ratings
Evil Ways
3.00 | 4 ratings
Sampler from The Serpent


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Guitar Heaven by SANTANA album cover Studio Album, 2010
2.36 | 43 ratings

Guitar Heaven
Santana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by TenYearsAfter

4 stars Is this a Guitar Heaven, is this the right title? Yes, it is! That is my conclusion, both as a huge Carlos Santana fan and a guitar player myself.

The great thing on this album is that Santana has incorporated his very distinctive (but also very versatile) guitar sound in the 14 more or less classic guitar compositions. Of course he is known as a kind of Mr. Sustain but Santana can deliver both intense blues runs as biting wah wah pedal guitarplay. So that's why he took the challenge and succeeded 'cum laude' in my opinion. The 14 tracks sound fresh and dynamic and feature lots of inventive and surprising arrangements. A fine example are the cello and harpsichord during the intro of the blues classic While My Guitar Gently Weeps (George Harrison) and then wonderful tremolo play on the acoustic guitar.

A strong element on this CD is the wide range of male and female singers, all colouring the music in their own special way. Like Rob Thomas (known from the worldwide hit Smooth with Santana) in Sunshine Of Your Love (Cream). Or rapper Nas in Back In Black (AC/DC) and the 'living legend' Joe Cocker in Little Wing (Jimi Hendrix).

My favorite moments are the exciting version of Whole Lotta Love (Led Zeppelin), the beautiful interplay between a psychedelic sounding organ and fiery guitar in Riders On The Storm (The Doors) and awesome Hammond organ and wah wah pedal guitarwork in the catchy Smoke On The Water (Deep Purple). My 'DeLuxe Edition' contains two bonustracks and an interesting DVD featuring The Making Of Guitar Heaven and an interview with Carlos Santana. Another nice bonus is the inclusion of a hologram picture of the front cover.

This is a terrific album, check out Santana and guitar freaks and take a trip to Guitar Heaven!

 Inner Secrets by SANTANA album cover Studio Album, 1978
2.49 | 85 ratings

Inner Secrets
Santana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Yes, I should hate this album. For several reasons: it´s clearly commercial, it has many covers and it´s not exactly what you might expect from the "classic" Santana sound. Still, they did a marvelous job anyway. First: the covers are surprisingly good. I really didn´t know they were capable of doing such a work on songs like Dealer (Traffic), Well All Right (Buddy Holly, covered by Blind Faith), One Chain (Don´t Make No Prison) (Four Tops) and even the Classic IV 1968 famous top ten hit Stormy. I was completely taken by surprise of how singer Greg Walker could emulate Steve Winwood´s voice so faithfully. That is no small feat at all. But the band´s arrangements and performance are also spotless. Even the disco-ish One Chain works wonders, maybe because Santana familiarity with percussion and the fact the band´s music was always danceable. They could record a whole album of covers and it would still be very good.

But the originals are not bad either. Ok, they are not exactly classics, but for the time (1978, the year of punk and disco)) they were producing some really elaborated and melodic rock stuff. And they recorded a guitar led instrumental track to keep the tradition: Life is a Lady/Holiday is sure no Samba Pa ti, but then again, who was doing something like that in 1978? Wham is another fine instrumental track that closes the album. And I was glad they finally dropped their funk/soul attempts for good.

In the end I found Inner Secrets to be a really pleasant album. And far superior to a lot of what Santana delivered from the mid-eighties onward. With no concessions and no fillers, it was proof that they did not surrender to the fashion of the day (yet). Like the following Marathon, they were only moving on, trying to find their way in a difficult period for rock music in general. And they did that with good songs, elegance and style. I wish I could say the same about several prog acts of the period. 3,5 stars.

 Moonflower by SANTANA album cover Live, 1977
3.75 | 102 ratings

Santana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This is quite bizarre, really. A part live, part studio album double album: it should be one studio and one live album, shouldn´t it? Well, someone had the "great" idea of putting those tracks side by side and the results are annoying. The live songs are ok, I suppose, but at a different pace, they are much faster than the studio counterparts, which make the flow so uneven. And I can´t understand why, since Santana puts a great live show since the early days and still does so many years after they were formed. They deserved a "proper" live album by that time (Lotus did not count, since it was not available outside Japan until the early 90´s).

The studio tracks are good, and point a transitional period. They dropped much of the soul and funky influences of Amigos and Festival and clearly they were aiming for the Album Oriented Rock format that they would pursue during the late 70´s and early 80´s. The success of the cover song of the Zombies She´s Not There showed the way, and certainly helped to make this album a big hit (it went platinum, the first one to do so since Caravanserai in 1972). Even some of the new songs were written in that style (I`ll be Waiting), while others still maintain the earlier Santana sound (the instrumental Zulu). Even the brazilian connection was maintained through the obvious Bahia. The best track however, is another instrumental, Flor de Luna (Moonflower in spanish): this rumba-like tune is typical Santana guitar piece since Samba Pa Ti, where Carlos shows off his unique melodic style in great form. So simple, nothing new, and still so magical! El Morocco is another powerful number while the soul ballad Transcendance sounds like a leftover from Festival.

In all, Moonflower could have been a fine studio and a reasonable live album if the live and studio tracks were not interspersed one with another. As it is the CD is too uenven and does not make me fell like listening to it as a whole. A real shame. However, it does have some real good stuff here, so a 3 star rating is a fair one.

 Festivál by SANTANA album cover Studio Album, 1976
2.70 | 85 ratings

Santana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Although on Festival Carlos Santana promoted another almost complete change of the group´s line up (only keyboards player Tom Coster was retained from the Amigos personnel), this is much a continuation of the previous effort. The good news were the return of singer Leon Patillo, who did a good job on 1974´s Borboletta. The bad news were the dismissal of original bassist Dave Brown (probably due to his heroin addiction: he would die in 2000). Festival is probably the most latin influenced album of Santana´s entire career, with no less than 3 tracks entirely sung in spanish. However, he didn´t drop the funk/soul traits that plagued Amigos. And the undesirable effect was the same: sometimes it seems that we are listening not only to two different bands playing at the same CD but also two completely different songs and styles.

On the plus side we have the trio of tracks that segue into each other to form a mini suite: Carnaval/let the children play/Jugando. It´s a great opener. Revelations is another gem, one of his great instrumentals that you only wish it could be longer. Verão Vermelho (red summer in portuguese) is another fine version of this classic brazilian instrumental track, where Carlos Santana shows off his skills with the classical guitar. The rumba Maria Caracoles is the one song I really don´t like it, although I have to admit that it works with the general feeling of the album (well, it should be a festival, shouldn´t it?); But tunes like Let The music Set You Free, Try a little harden and Reach Up are totally out of tune with the remaining of the album, being that kind of slick funk that sounds like a lot of black acts of the period, but nothing like Santana.

So in the end, Festival is a natural follow up to Amigos, if such thing exists. Although there is no real classic stuff here like Europa, it still has enough good tracks to warrant it a three star rating (more like 2,7, really). But I would not recommended it for a newbie. Go get their first four albums before tackling this one.

 Amigos by SANTANA album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.25 | 123 ratings

Santana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Carlos Santana, being much more a jazz fan than a jazz player, was bound to drop his jazz rock/fusion elements sooner or later. And in Amigos that happened. It seemed that he would go back to what he does best: a mix of latin music, rock and blues. But that was not to be. Granted, some of his best features are back: the percussion is upfront again, the instrumentals are simpler and rockier, and his guitar is more prominent than in his two previous albums. But most of the vocal tracks show his new found love (or commercial eye) for funk, soul and gospel. Interesting enough, some jazz masters did fell in love with the same style a few years before (like Herbie Hancock in his Headhunters period). The results here, however, are quite uneven.

The record starts well with the latin beat of Dance Sister Dance (Baila Mi Hermana), a nice track, a bit repetitive at the beginning, but saved by the guitar solo on the fast second part. The frenetic beginning of Take Me With You reminds us of the good old times, with Tom Coster delivering a swirling Hammond organ solo that makes justice to the departed Gregg Rolie. The calmer second part is still good, but nothing special. Trouble starts with the fast funky Let Me: this track has nothing to do with Santana and the same can be said of Tell Me Are You Tired and the gospel/soul/funk ballad Let It shine ( the only single released from Amigos and a minor hit for the band). All three feature the same clavinet sound and black girl backing vocals. In fact, they could be easily be mistaken as several funk acts of the period, like Jimmy Castor or Sly and Family Stone . Not really bad, but clearly out of place here.

The redemption part of the record is the classic Europa: one of Santana´s best instrumental tracks ever, it was not released as a single in USA but became a hit in several european countries at the time, and it would deservedly stay on the band´s repertoire to this day. There we can find all the magic we are to expect from such a great, talented bunch: simplicity, feeling and soul all put together with a tasteful performance of all involved. A real masterpiece. Gitano is interesting spanish/mexican mix: nice, but nothing special. The typical latin party track you hope to pop up in any Santana album.

So, in the end Amigo is an album that is quite uneven: even if the funky numbers are not exactly bad per se, they do spoil the overall flow of the tracks and makes you think there are two bands, with two very different styles, playing on the same record. Like oil and water. They don´t mix.

Rating: 4 stars for the instrumental tracks, 3 stars for Gitano and Dance Sister Dance, 2 stars at most for the funky tunes. 3 stars is a fair rating for this mixed bag . Barely.

 Borboletta by SANTANA album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.67 | 166 ratings

Santana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 3,5 stars really. Borboletta is a quite underrated album in my opinion. Coming after the great shock that was Welcome, it deepens into the latin jazz-rock fusion once more, but with far better results. Where Welcome is a bit disjoined and without much focus, this one has a flow that works as a whole. The brazilian connection was also straighten with the presence of famed percussionist Airto Moreira and his wife, singer Flora Purim. Moreira wrote the opening vignette and the closing, title track (again it is far more a vignette than a proper song, even if it is far longer) and Santana also recorded another brazilian songwriter´s classic song, this time Dorival Caymmi (Promise of The Fisherman). However, the bossa nova traits of Welcome are gone and the vocal songs are much more into the soul/funk/pop vein (with some jazzy flourishes). The instrumentals on the other side are pure latin fusion style. The interesting note about it is the fact that this is probably the one Santana album that the guitar is less featured than on any other of his entire discography: to the point that two instrumental tracks (like the 5 minute+ Aspirations) don´t have any guitar at all!

Like on Welcome, Carlos Santana looks like the odd man out: a melodic guitarist that plays some fine solos, but nothing like a jazz guitarist would do. To make sure the songs turned out on that way, he surrounds himself with capable musicians of that field: keyboardist Tom Coster, sax player Jules Broussard, bass virtuoso Stanley Clarke and jazz drummer Leon "Nugdu" Chancler, plus the aforementioned Moreira and Purim. When Carlos plays is like listening to a rock guitar player guesting on a fusion album. Singer/keyboards player Leon Patillo steps in and he has a nice voice, although not as powerful and incisive as Gregg Rollie. Too bad that this album would also be the last one with Michael Shrieve, for he would get sick and eventually out of the band. He was the main influence in the changing of style of the band. He introduced Carlos to the world of jazz and, most specific, of John Coltrane. Without him on board it is no coincidence that he would drop the jazz fusion elements very soon.

Borboletta (butterfly in portuguese, although, intentionally or not, it is misspelled, it should have only one t) is an interesting album that takes a few spins to get really into it, but it is worth it. It´s more concise and coherent than Welcome. The combination of the jazzy instrumentals and popish vocal songs may seem strange, but somehow they work.This is a different Santana, no doubt, but a good one.

 Welcome by SANTANA album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.47 | 147 ratings

Santana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

3 stars In his previous album, Caravanserai (1972), it was clear that the original band was falling apart, although they were still capable of delivering an excellent work, one of their finest. But the the cracks were showing: keyboardist/vocalist Gregg Rollie and guitarrist Neal Schon wanted to rock more, Carlos Santana and drummer Michael Shrieve wanted to go deeper into jazz, while original bassist Dave Brown and percussionist Michael Carabello were already sacked. So in the end, With Rollie and Schon out to form the highly successful Journey, only Shrieve (and Carlos, of course) remained by the time Welcome was released. It was a radical change of musical direction. Although Carlos Santana was still playing a very melodic and relatively simple guitar style, he surrounded himself with the best jazz musicians he could find to ensure the new direction.

The mix was very different from Caravanserai or even Mahavishnu Orchestra (his partnership with guitarist John McLaughlin on Love Devotion And Surrender suggested something in that way). In fact he seemed to be less influenced by John Coltrane and the jazz rock movement in general than veering into the latin jazz fusion of early Return to Forever and Airto Moreira. The presence of Moreira's wife, singer Flora Purim, on one track is no coincidence. Santana's new musical approach was closer to the brazilian instrumental scene of the time than anything: he had already recorded the celebrated brazilian songwriter Antonio Carlos Jobim's Stone Flower on the previous album and the vocal tracks sound a lot like Bossa Nova stuff. In fact, the rock element of Santana's original sound is almost completely wiped out. There are flutes, sax, electric pianos solos all over, and not very much guitar. The sole exception is the 11+ minute Flame Sky, where John McLaughlin guests and shares songwriting credit. Flame Sky sounds like something left over Love Devotion And Surrender, and it is interesting to see the duel between Santana's melodic and soulful lines in sharp contrast with McLaughlin's all skills and no heart, marathon note, style. Like the aforementioned album is much ore fitting to Mahavishnu Orchestra than anything the Santana band has ever recorded, before and after.

In few words, Welcome sounds like almost nothing Santana did before. One can admire his nerve to go into such radical change of musical direction (CBS CEO and a great admirer of Carlos said to him the LP was "a career suicide" upon listening to the complete album at the time). The end result is a pleasant enough latin/light jazz album, with a few touches of prog here and there (the opener Going Home is a good example of the latter). Overall a nice, unusual album for Santana (and he would further explore the genre in his next release, 1974's Borboletta). Not my favorite Santana phase of his long career, but it was an interesting experiment. 3 stars.

 Freedom by SANTANA album cover Studio Album, 1987
1.97 | 41 ratings

Santana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

2 stars According to some reviews I got from the internet, Santana´s 1987 Freedom would be a "return to their earlier original sound". Maybe they were influenced by the fac that the famous drummer and singer Buddy Miles is back on the fold, and bluesman Junior Wells plays harmonica on a couple of tracks, plus the fact that old chum Gregg Rolie appears somewhere too. The cover of the album and its title also lead to that feeling. But upon listening to this record I get the same impression I got from the previous fiasco that was Beyond Appearances (1985): a producer´s take on trying to "modernize" the Santana music. So then again there they are: the same synthesizers and sequencers that were so ubiquitous at the time. For the second time it seems that Carlos Santana gave the "hip" producer the control of what would be recorded and how, at least most of it. The results are not as bad as the previous record, thanks to a better repertoire and the fact that there is only one singer this time. And yet, this is hardly the Santana sound we expect to hear.

Yes, you´ll find excellent trademark guitar lines and lots of latin percussion, but several songs are way too commercial, sanitized and bland to make this a really worthy effort. Love Is You for example shows the unmistakable style of a Carlos Santana solo, a real joy to hear, although the song itself is nothing special. The situation gets better on the second half of the CD, with Mandela and Deeper, Dig Deeper being the best tracks. But then we also have Before We Go, a tracks that is a pastiche of a ballad from Eric Clapton´s album August. If you know Clapton´s ballads of the period you get it.

So in the end I found Freedom not a bad album, it has its moments (if you don´t mind those typical synth sounds of the time), but far from anything he has done in the 70´s or even at the beginning of the 80´s. It would be a long way back to the top. Two stars.

 Beyond Appearances by SANTANA album cover Studio Album, 1985
1.67 | 54 ratings

Beyond Appearances
Santana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Two and a half years after Shangô, Santana came back with a new line up, this time with two lead singers (a feature on all his future releases), and a desire to sound "modern". After repeated spins one comes to the conclusion that, for the first time, Carlos Santana left the producer of the moment take over. For the band sounds like several others, but Santana. It´s hard to blame him to try to make their music actual and relevant at the fickle 80´s market. If at the end of the 70´s and early 80´s they could make the transition to the then current trend (AOR and melodic Rock) without much mishaps, then things got a little more difficult as the fashion changed dramatically by 1985. So outside musicians are called in, as well as a new producer, arrangers and synth programmers and whatever.

The result is a hodgepodge of styles that drowns the original Santana sound almost completely. OK, the guitar lines are still creative, the latin percussion is there, but the songs, the arrangements and, specially, the presence of those 80´synths and sequencers make Beyond Appearances be just a collection of copies of the current trends, not an improvement (or real modernization) for Santana´s sound. There is a lost of personality: Brotherhood and Spirit are the typical funky tracks that Michael Jackson or The Commodores would produce at the period. Written In The Sand comes across as a good The Police track, while How Long is pure Phil Collins (even the vocals have all his mannerisms). Not even the only instrumental track (the closer and short Touchdown Raiders) reminds us of the Santana we all know and love.

Not that the songs are bad per se, in fact there is some good stuff here and there, but only totally uncharacteristic. it´s no surprise that the only single from this album is the catchy and melodic Say It Again, that became a minor hit. It´s the closest they got from the previous two successful albums, Zebop and Shangô, and still is not on the same league as Winning or Hold On. Beyond Appearances is exactly the opposite of its title. It really was what it showed: a way to try to sound contemporary gone wrong. it was also the first Santana album not to go gold. And deservedly so.

Although well produced and well performed, Beyond Appearances was a mistake and the first time Santana really lost control over his music. He was not alone, far from it, but it was quite a disappointment anyway, since they had survived the late 70´s/early 80´s with such elegance, something most 70´s artists did not. This one is for Collectors and fans only. Two stars.

 Shangó by SANTANA album cover Studio Album, 1982
2.42 | 61 ratings

Santana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

3 stars In his autobiography Carlos Santana claims that the band produced the albums themselves (or, more to the point, himself). That may explains why their 80´s output was far better than most of their 70´s colleagues. It seems they never really gave the producer of the moment a full power over how the ending results would turn out, something a lot of other bands, to their forever regret, did. So, while the name of Bill Szymczyk may be on the cover but you won´t find another Eagles or Styx pastiche here. Sure, Shangó has its share of pop stuff, but Santana always had these melodic traits all along. But they, again, prove they could survive the 80´s without having to "modern up" their music (I.e, those cheesy synths and electronic drums)

After the great success that was Zebop, Shangó follows much of the same pattern (this time with a better cover art). The Nile is fine opener on which the band shows the same trademark Santana sound: great guitar lines, fine vintage keys and fine latin percussion. The hit single Hold On follows and it´s a nice pop song that kept them alive in the charts. Night Hunting Time is maybe the weakest track of the entire CD and it telling performed poorly when released as their third single from Shangó. Having had a big hit with Russ Ballard´s Winning the previous year they released another of his compositions, Nowhere To Run: the band proves they could emulate the AOR style of the moment like the real thing, not a pastiche. It did not fared as well at the charts as Winning, but it was a good melodic rock track. Nueva York on the other side is pure 70´s Santana, where old chum Gregg Rolie made a guest appearance with a blistering organ solo. A real fine instrumental that could be on Abraxas.

Side two fo the vinyl started with the afro/caribbean Oxun. Although a good song in several ways it did never appeal to me. Just a matter of taste. It is interesting that Santana did this track before world music became a common place in the rock music field by the mid to late 80´s. Body Surfing takes them into the Journey mood again, with Alex Lingwood doing the best Steve Perry emulation ever. It would be perfect for that band: with Santana it is a nice tune, but nothing special. Their version of What Does It Take (To Win Your Love) has a surprisingly good arrangement, with Carlos Santana doing a different riff and solo, but working marvelously. The reggae Let Me in is interesting that it is really the first time this band tried a take on that kind of rhythm that was a kind of fever during the late 70´s/early 80´s. The result is as competent as one can expect. Warrior is the second instrumental of this album, unfortunately not near as good as Nueva York. In fact is quite mundane and it is saved only by the fiery guitar lines of Carlos Santana e the good percussion. The very short title track clocks in a little more than one minute mark and is a reminder that Santana did not forget its latin roots.

Conclusion: another Santana album that stood well the test of time. Not as good as Zebop, but a good follow up and certainly one of the best early 80´s record done by a 70´s act. 3,5 stars.

Thanks to Sean Trane for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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