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Carlos Santana - Carlos Santana & John McLaughlin: Love Devotion Surrender CD (album) cover


Carlos Santana


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.97 | 144 ratings

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4 stars An impressive meeting of two forces of nature on the guitar. Despite Santana being credited first, McLaughlin really seems to be the one who sets the tone on this album: the abundant references to spirituality and the non-percussive "heavenly" sections where the guitarists play a dozen notes per millisecond on top of celestial keyboard soundscapes often make this feel like a direct continuation of Mahavishnu's Apocalypse. Santana does bring his own flavour into the mix though: the Hammond organ and Latin percussion clearly set this apart from your average Mahavishnu Orchestra release.

The album starts off a bit slow with a not too remarkable version of the first movement from John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme", but it is followed by a beautiful acoustic, re-harmonized version of "Naima" by the same composer. The idyllic nature of this song is then savagely interrupted by the roaring guitar glissandos that lead us into "The Life Divine", a McLaughlin-penned fast-paced fusion waltz with more blistering solos (sometimes augmented with phasing and panning effects so as to feel more disorienting and threatening) and mantric chants (was it a deliberate act of irony to juxtapose these sweet-talking lyrics about the love of God and man on a song that sounds like the Creator smiting our wretched post-rapture earth?). Its successor, another lengthy fusion jam called "Let Us Go Into The House Of The Lord", shows more Latin influence and feels less thundering and more optimistic, but certainly no less powerful. Finally, the album ends on a gentle note with another brief acoustic piece.

I can see why people wouldn't like an album like this: the original compositions are at their core little more than basic two-chord canvases for the guitar players to show off their talents for many, many minutes. It's self-indulgent, it's monotonous, but by Jove, does this level of talent deserve to be self-indulgent and monotonous. Listening to these moto perpetuo licks makes me wish these guys would never stop playing. An excellent use of one's time for any jazz fusion fan, and an essential listen for guitar fanatics.

Mirakaze | 4/5 |


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