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


Carlos Santana


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.97 | 150 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Duelling banjos

In the early 1970's, Carlos Santana and Mahavishnu John McLaughin got together for a one off project centred around their new found beliefs. Thus, while the sleeve notes and images are of the Eastern type adopted by the Beatles and others who followed their trail, the music is essentially jazz rock with occasional repeated vocal motifs.

The first two tracks are interpretations of legendary jazz musician John Coltrane's compositions "A love supreme" and "Niama". The former is a lengthy guitar workout over a repeated mantra of the title. It is more or less totally improvised, but it is pretty much impossible to say who if any is the dominant player. The latter is a gentle acoustic guitar interlude.

Two of the tracks are McLaughlin compositions. "The life devine" sets off as an apparent continuation of the opening track, and indeed follows the same template with further improvised guitar workouts over a repeating chant of the title. The closing "Meditation" reverts to the soft acoustic sound of "Naima".

Side two of the album is more or less dedicated to a 16 minute arrangement of the traditional "Let us go into the house of the lord". For those familiar with that piece, there will be a major challenge in recognising it from the opening guitar fanfare. Here, the Santana sound is very much in evidence as the congas lay the basis for this unending jam.

Ironically, it is Larry Young (here given his spiritual name Khalid Yasin) whose contribution is in my opinion most notable. The expertise of the guitar playing is as would be expected, except that it does not go beyond two top guitarists displaying their abilities. Young on the other hand lays an essential foundation for the album, without which it would sound dry and lifeless.

The overriding impression one is left with when listening to this album is that here we have two guitar virtuosos doing just what they want to do. There is no question of the music being tailored to a particular audience, as long as the two protagonists were happy with the results, that was all that mattered. There is no doubt that the album displays the talents of Santana and McLaughlin superbly. That though in itself does not make this an album which bears repeated listening. For me it is a bit like watching a good film. Watching it over and over in a short space of time diminishes the pleasure, it does not enhance it. Talking of good films, here I am reminded of the "Duelling banjos" scene from "Deliverance".

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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