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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


The Best of SantanaThe Best of Santana
Sony Music Canada Inc. 1998
Audio CD$5.69
$1.49 (used)
Santana IVSantana IV
Santana IV Records 2016
Audio CD$9.12
$6.99 (used)
Abraxas (Remastered)Abraxas (Remastered)
Remastered
Sony Music Canada Inc. 1998
Audio CD$4.99
$2.49 (used)
Ultimate SantanaUltimate Santana
Sony Music Canada Inc. 2007
Audio CD$5.71
$1.37 (used)
SantanaSantana
SBME SPECIAL MKTS. 2015
Audio CD$4.08
$4.07 (used)
The Essential SantanaThe Essential Santana
Sony Music Canada Inc. 2013
Audio CD$8.62
$7.04 (used)
Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics Of All TimeGuitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics Of All Time
SBME SPECIAL MKTS. 2016
Audio CD$5.38
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More places to buy SANTANA music online Buy SANTANA & Prog Rock Digital Music online:
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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)

4.13 | 335 ratings
Santana
1969
4.24 | 506 ratings
Abraxas
1970
3.99 | 250 ratings
Santana 3
1971
4.23 | 630 ratings
Caravanserai
1972
3.48 | 143 ratings
Welcome
1973
3.67 | 160 ratings
Borboletta
1974
3.25 | 119 ratings
Amigos
1976
2.70 | 82 ratings
Festivßl
1976
2.43 | 82 ratings
Inner Secrets
1978
2.83 | 80 ratings
Marathon
1979
2.97 | 80 ratings
Zebop
1981
2.42 | 59 ratings
Shangˇ
1982
1.67 | 52 ratings
Beyond Appearances
1985
1.98 | 38 ratings
Freedom
1987
2.80 | 41 ratings
Spirits Dancing In The Flesh
1990
2.90 | 40 ratings
Milagro
1992
3.16 | 158 ratings
Supernatural
1999
2.53 | 69 ratings
Shaman
2002
2.21 | 41 ratings
All That I Am
2005
2.02 | 40 ratings
Guitar Heaven
2010
3.70 | 61 ratings
Shape Shifter
2012
2.72 | 18 ratings
Corazˇn
2014
3.83 | 62 ratings
Santana IV
2016

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

3.86 | 94 ratings
Lotus
1975
3.75 | 98 ratings
Moonflower
1977
3.24 | 30 ratings
Sacred Fire (Live In South America)
1993
3.93 | 40 ratings
Live At The Fillmore, 1968
1997

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

3.18 | 11 ratings
Viva Santana!
1988
4.26 | 15 ratings
Sacred Fire (Live in Mexico)
1993
3.33 | 3 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)

2.78 | 27 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
3.67 | 3 ratings
Love Is You (A Love Song Collection)
1995
4.00 | 11 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
4.21 | 5 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)

4.00 | 6 ratings
Evil Ways
1969
3.00 | 4 ratings
Sampler from The Serpent
1995

SANTANA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Moonflower by SANTANA album cover Live, 1977
3.75 | 98 ratings

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Moonflower
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.

 Festivßl by SANTANA album cover Studio Album, 1976
2.70 | 82 ratings

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Festivßl
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. VerŃo 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 | 119 ratings

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Amigos
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 | 160 ratings

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Borboletta
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
3.48 | 143 ratings

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Welcome
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
1.98 | 38 ratings

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Freedom
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 | 52 ratings

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Beyond Appearances
Santana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Two and a half years after Shang˘, 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 Shang˘, 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.

 Shangˇ by SANTANA album cover Studio Album, 1982
2.42 | 59 ratings

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Shangˇ
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, Shangˇ 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, Shangˇ 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 Shangˇ. 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.

 Zebop by SANTANA album cover Studio Album, 1981
2.97 | 80 ratings

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Zebop
Santana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

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

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

Rating: 3,5 stars.

 Marathon by SANTANA album cover Studio Album, 1979
2.83 | 80 ratings

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Marathon
Santana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Marathon is probably Santanas most obscure album from the 70┤s, and with a good reason. 1979 was probably the most difficult year for classic rock: disco was still a dominating sound , even if it was also fading fast, while critics and rock journalists in general were still spellbound by punk and new wave bands. Like most american bands of the period Santana seemed to take the AOR/melodic rock road that so many other USA bands at the time. In fact, in several tracks from this CD the main influence was a band that included two former Santana members: Journey. Gregg Rollie, Neal Schon and co were by now riding high on the charts after they recruited a new singer, one Steve Perry. So it made some sense the similarities (just listen to You Know That I Love You, the only single released from this album, a typical Journey tune).

So the band had now a singer in the same mold as Perry┤s: Alex Lingwood. Like Perry, Lingwood had a tremendous voice that fits perfectly for the new style. Of course the album comes across as very uncharacteristically, although previous year┤s Inner Secrets was pointing in that direction already: The latin percussion is kept to a minimum, you hardly hear a conga, there is only two short instrumentals and Carlos Santana guitar playing never sounded so american. The production is very smooth and, unlike several other groups that try to jump into the bandwagon, the songs are generally very good and the performances are impeccable. In other words, they sound convincing, at least most of the time. Just don┤t expect the jazz/rock fusion of Welcome or Borboletta, neither their latin/jazz/rock crossover of their early days. This is a very good AOR record, but nothing more. And for some reason it stood well the test of time and is still very enjoyable when I listen to it.

Rating: 3,5 stars.

Thanks to Sean Trane for the artist addition. and to E&O Team for the last updates

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