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Santana - Festivál CD (album) cover



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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars After an incredible stretch of excellent-to-sublime albums (bar the weaker Welcome), starting with their debut, Festival was the first album that I would call less progressive than all of its predecessors, Carlos'solo albums included. But is Festival weaker? Well it certainly appears so, but there are still some marvelous moments on this slice of wax. Graced with a rather bland artwork (snake in a rose?), the album is rather aptly titled as it implies many festive moods and celebrates happiness.

After the opening trilogy of very happy tracks Carnival/Children Play/Jugando, well-known to fans as those were present in the first parts of their concerts and are therefore part of Lotus and Moonflower, the album seems to be gliding on rather bland sort of sung-funk- jazz, such as the brassy Give Me Love or Reach Up, Try A Little Harder Now etc... interupted by much more intersting tracks: the wondeful and cosmic Spanish-inflected Verhao Vermelho (with its Portugues/Brazilian name) or the early-group-feeling Let The Music Set You Free or the Miriachi-inflected Caracoles.

Overall, sonically speaking we are on the way towards the much more succesful 76's Amigos album, but this album is not essential in the group's discography. But after having discovered their early gems, should you wish to extend your discovery of the group, this album would be welcome in a second or third wave of acquisition. While not indispensible, still worth the occasional spin.

Report this review (#97152)
Posted Sunday, November 5, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars After two good jazzy studio albums, what would come next ? Back to the latin-rock of the debut or more into the jazz sphere ? Alas, Mike Shrieve has gone. He joined Santana in 1969, and was one one of the only (almost) original member of the band together with Chepito Areas and Dave Brown (but the latter left for a while namely for "Welcome" and its supporting tour).

The album opens with the suite "Carnaval-Let The Children Play-Jugando" which is a great piece of latin rock like the band produced in its early days : full of passionate rythm with great congas and timbales. Vocals (some in Spanish with an awful accent) are just average. Very good song though.

"Give Me Love" is a mellow bossa nova / soul tune with poor vocals. This is typically a hotel lobby song. Quite weak.

"Verao Vermelho" has flamenco flavour and great rythm again : very inspired idea to combine spanish classics with Latin-American rythms. This is one of the best songs of the album.

"Let The Music Set You Free" has a wild ryhtm, although the funky orientation is not really my cup of tea. Not too bad after all.

"Revelations" is another attempt to reproduce "Samba Pa'Ti" (it's the fourth of this genre so far).It's a good song, full of emotion with the same tempo than its predecessors. Carlos stroke hard again with this great and very inspired number. It is one of my favorite song of the album. I have to admit that anything that has to do with Samba Pa'Ti brings me almost to heaven. I can't help ! Sorry.

"Reach Up" is an uninspired funky track. Press next. The following track is unfortunately very weak again : "The River" is a kind of mellow soul tune with poor lead as well as backing vocals (the type of song one would have hoped that Santana would never have released). I really can't stand this stuff.

Back to the Latin ambience again with "Try A Little Harder" : the music is quite nice, but hell ! What are these vocals ? Gospel oriented choirs and very weak work from Walker - which is not a surprise any longer).

"Maria Caracoles" is a salsa tune : great rhytm but very weak melody and stupid vocals. Those trumpets in the background are also not very adequate, although I reckon that it is an integral part of the genre but I wouldn't expect this in a Santana song (although we got already some in the genre with "Everybody's Everything" on Santana III). This album is the weakest Santana album so far. Two Stars.

Report this review (#111616)
Posted Sunday, February 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
1 stars Probably the first Santana album to be weak. There are some good songs here, but they are all in the beginning : the three songs Carnaval, Let The Children Play and Jugando. All of these three tracks (Jugando is instrumental) would be played in the double album part live/part studio Moonflower one year later. The other tracks are really mediocre, Maria Caracoles, Reach Up, Verao Vermelho, Give Me Love...In its entirety, Festival is mediocre, totally forgettable. There will be other Santana albums like this one, but in the 80's.
Report this review (#163980)
Posted Saturday, March 15, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Yes, all good things have their end! After great collection of excellend and good latin-rock and latin-fusion albums, Santana released first belove average level album.

The band returned back to latin-rock elements ( from latin-fusion of last works), but main album sound is pop-rock and pop with world elements. There are few great songs ( at the very beginning), but all other aren't even average. Samba dance rhythms, some sweet pop down tempo pieces, very amorphous material scented with latin folk. Unfocused mix of very different songs. But (after opening songs) you can feel, that disco era is coming!

In fact , only few songs are great, all others are fillers. First disaapering from Santana ( and far away not last!)

Report this review (#244302)
Posted Monday, October 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Since "Amigos" came BEFORE this one, this one came shortly AFTER "Amigos"... I believe there is NO Dave Brown. If I'm right he was gone after Amigos and the bass player here is Pablo Telez. There also is NO Armando Perazza... He would return after this album.

What to say about this one... returning singer Leon Patillo has a great voice but is on some real stinkers here like "The river"... Returning Jose "Chepito" Areas is one of the percussionists and I believe a very young Raul Rekow is the other one and the drummer is Gaylord Byrch.

Some real beauty here; "Revelations" is one of the finest moments of the Carlos Santana/Tom Coster partnership. Another beauty is Verao Vermehlo with the Costers strings leading to a grand finale... The acoustic guitar is just grand!!!

The Carnaval/Let the children play/Jugando suite is great music too. The latin feel is back but without the rawness of the first albums. It's all much more playfull. Let the music set you free is rightly stated and another great track.

Stinkers??? Yep! The river, Reach up, Give me love... No thanks.

Try a little harder now and Maria Caracoles are ok.

Overall, some real fine moments but also the first sign of decline... Amigos still received a four star, this a three star for the real good pieces.

Report this review (#299090)
Posted Monday, September 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
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. Verăo 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.

Report this review (#1802338)
Posted Tuesday, October 10, 2017 | Review Permalink
3 stars Santana began a smooth change of the sound with Amigos but radically departed from the previous challenging music with Festival. The music has now the following characteristics: Latin rock-pop and R&B/funk. Gone are jazz moments and hard-rock equilibristic. Synths have sneaked in, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

One of the best tracks is the first one, "Carnaval" thanks to its length and space to explore Latin territory although in a less adventureous way than before. "Let the children play" is completely devoid of Latin influences and reminds me of Earth, Wind and Fire.

"Jugando" is one of the few tracks with acoustic guitar by Santana.

Another track worth mentioning is "Revelation", it would be a filler track on any previous album but here it stands out simply because it is an focus instrumental. "Try a little harder now" is a mixture of playful Latin and disco motives. "Maria Caracoles" has traces of previous percussion glory and Hammond organ.

Report this review (#2343538)
Posted Wednesday, March 18, 2020 | Review Permalink

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