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Santana - Beyond Appearances CD (album) cover

BEYOND APPEARANCES

Santana

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

1.67 | 63 ratings

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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.

Tarcisio Moura | 2/5 |

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