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Santana Santana album cover
4.14 | 461 ratings | 37 reviews | 30% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1969

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Waiting (4:04)
2. Evil Ways (3:56)
3. Shades of Time (3:13)
4. Savor (2:45)
5. Jingo (4:21)
6. Persuasion (2:35)
7. Treat (4:43)
8. You Just Don't Care (4:35)
9. Soul Sacrifice (6:38)

Total Time 36:50

Line-up / Musicians

- Carlos Santana / guitars, vocals
- Gregg Rolie / piano, organ, vocals
- David Brown / bass
- Michael Shrieve / drums
- Michael Carabello / percussion, congas
- Jose 'Chepito' Areas / timbales, congas, percussion

- Albert Gianquinto / arranger

Releases information

ArtWork: Lee Conklin

LP Columbia - CS9781 (1969, US)

CD Columbia ‎- CK 64212 (1994, US) Remastered by Kevin Boutote
CD Columbia - CK 9781 (1998, US) Remastered (?)

Thanks to Sean Trane for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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SANTANA Santana ratings distribution

(461 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(30%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(51%)
Good, but non-essential (17%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

SANTANA Santana reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars 4,5 stars really!!!!

Rarely has such a debut album attained such a level of perfection, but Santana were around for three years so they had plenty of time to become a tight unit and belting powerful anthems. Santana was part of that second wave of San Fran bands, but did not really sound as psychedilc as their forerunners, mostly due to Mexican-born guitarist Carlos Santana and the wild percussionists giving such an incredible Latino timbre to their feel. Their music reminded everyone that indeed the Californian Spanish heritage was indeed still a reality. From the more traditional rock side come the excellent singer/keyboardist Gregg Rollie and the superb Michael Schrieve. The mix of influences is an excellent example of early fusion (before the term got coined as a twin of jazz-rock) between many Latin America musics and the more "white RnR", blues, jazz and they were highly innovative (if not progressive). Santana got their big break from their stellar gig in Woodstock propelling their debut album to unhoped-for heights with tracks like Soul Sacrifice.

As I said above, their music was high energy rock and when taking a look at the track list, a good half of this album are pure classics. Evil Ways, Waiting, Persuasion, Soul Sacrifice are complete and utter classic tracks still getting airplay nowadays. I will always remember Jingo Loba for its power (and a friend's house shall too, after it suffered permanent structural damages from some 50 kids dancing like one on a first floor) and for the fact that girls loved to dance to this absolutely infectious groove as well. And the fact that the majestic Treat was played at a friend's funeral in the mid- 70's as a piano-conga duo and extended to 15 minutes bringing everyone (even the parents) to tears of joy in such occasion. Yes, this review is biased, yes I am completely unable to bring myself to say one bad (or even average) thing about this album. Yes, some 35 years after discovering thisc album, I am still heads over heels (wors:I think I am heels over heads ;-) and even the relatively lesser tracks such as Savor or Shade Of Time would be highlights on many other band's best offferings.

Today still almost 40 years later this record still feels fresh and up to date. Even if some voices would venture in saying that early Santana is not "prog", every proghead should own this album and its two follow-ups. Hard not putting 5 stars to this album, but I must be completely objective also and think of the Archives' rating system.

PS: although a single-sleeved album, take a close look at the lion's head and count the human faces in it. The remastered version comes with some live tracks which gives an idea of their power on stage as well.

Review by Australian
4 stars "Santana" is perhaps the first in a series of groundbreaking and defining Latin-rock albums from Carlos Santana. I guess what makes this album particularly interesting is the fact that it is a purely free-form album combining many genres of music. The album is mainly instrumental, and while it isn't Santana's Opus when it comes to prog it is still a damn great album! The band already had a head start with its three year history leading up to the release of this album most notably the performance at the Woodstock Festival in August of the previous month. Still that said for a debut album this is quite fantastic.

The album opens with the up-tempo instrumental jam "Waiting" which kicks-off quietly with the ringing of bongos and bass. The instruments are built upon by further percussion and finally the by the lead of an electric organ. The song has a very definable and definite beat which is overlaid by electric organ and guitar.

The all-famous "Evil Ways" is next, this song was perhaps the first impressionable Santana song on the music scene becoming a top 10 hit in the US (no.9). It is another very easily identifiable tune and features some great instrumental jams. Watch out for the guitar solo at the end. I guarantee this will have you grooving in no time at all!

"Shades of Time" is another song with vocals, though there are still the good old instrumental jam sections and guitar solos. There is one particularly good guitar solo which begins around the 1:30 minute mark. The Latin-style percussion is at a high-point here with the three percussionists doing a fantastic job.

"Savor" follows on directly from "Shades of Time" and it features some very strong percussion from the band which is soon joined by the organ and guitar. This is three minutes of amazing instrumentalism which is really made all the more impressive by the fact that the band was able to create something so tight on their first album.

"Jingo" is the first song to have vocals in Spanish (god I hope its Spanish.) The song begins gradually with the traditional layering taking place. The song really is made very impressive by Carlo's guitar which seems to just dominate the piece. The melody is very decisive. After a while you understand what I mean by that.

"Persuasion" is next. The song sounds a bit disjoined although it still maintains all the same characterizes as mentioned before. The most notable feature of the song is that it seems to end before it begins.

"Treat" is as its name suggests. It's a change from the rest of the album as it opens with a soft-ish piano melody as opposed to aggressive percussion! It doesn't last long though, about a minute before the rest of the band comes in. "Treat" is really make special by that fact that it includes one really great guitar solo from Carols which is backed by that die-hard percussion and piano. The song ends the way it began, quietly. All round great instrumental.

"You Just Don't Care" is a sinister song, as far as the rest of the album goes. It is aggressive and feature some traces of psychedelic rock too, as does the rest of the album. It's the "heaviest" song also with some guitar work leaning towards the louder side.

Last of all is the six minute instrumental which really defines the album for me, it allows for an extended insight into the percussive of the band as well as, the guitar. The backing dissipates for a while to allow for a bongo solo, which is the best type of solo. I stand by saying this is the defining song of the album, great stuff.

Waiting (4/5) Evil Ways (4/5) Shades of Time (4/5) Savor (3/5) Jingo (4/5) Persuasion (3/5) Treat (5/5) You Just Don't Care (4/5) Soul Sacrifice (5/5) Total = 36 divided by 9 = 4 = 4 stars Excellent addition to any prog music collection

In summary, this one great album and although it may not be of the same grade of identifiable progressive rock acts from the same time, it is still very good. I'd recommend this album to anyone, basically. I guess Frank Zappa fans may find it interesting.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It's been very interesting for me to make a review of an album that was released during the period of late sixties until seventies. It seems like I'm making "The Story of I" (lending these words from Patrick Moraz' legendary album) because I have grown up with rock music. 1969 was not my formative year of falling in love with rock music but for sure at that time I was making my foundation to take off with rock music as a choice. But at that time I was listening to The Beatles and Indonesian pop group heroes like Koes Bersaudara, Koes Plus, Panbers, Rasela, Gembel's, AKA, Trenchem and the like. And my first introduction to Santana happened when I heard "No One To Depend On" song which really blew me away. Simply speaking, "No One To Depend On" was like an original soundtrack of "The Story of I" at that time. Since then I explored other albums of Santana. With the help of magazine like Aktuil (Indonesia) and Muzik Express (Dutch) I could finally locate some other albums of Santana.

This debut album by Santana was a logical follow-up of the band's appearance at Fillmore West in 1968. The music represents the sounds that were around during that time which I classify under classic rock sounds. Santana's music has unique texture of latin music combined with electric guitar solo by Carlos Santana and soaring Hammond B3 organ by Gregg Rolie. Santana is basically a partnership of Carlos Santana and Gregg Rolie. The opening track "Waiting" is a stunning instrumental piece combining latin percussion, inventive Hammond B3 organ and unique guitar solo. What follows is the band's first hit "Evil Ways" which was written by Sony Henry who taught the band on writing song with verses and choruses. This was because initially Santana was just "jamming" band where their compositions have no start or middle or ending parts. "We are just playing", Gregg Rolie reckoned Santana's early years.

All other songs are excellent compositions. "Treat" has its roots in blues music (Note: Santana adored BB King) and it has powerful melody and composition. My favorite track is "You Just Don't Care" where it has the roots of seventies sounds with great and unique guitar work by Carlos Santana.

It's a legendary album and it's a must to have this CD. My collection is a two CD boxset with third album wrapped in cardboard with nice sleeve notes and bonus tracks. Recommended!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Excellent debut and one of the definite albums of the San Fransican psychedelic scene! They proved themselves during the famous Woodstock Festival in summer 1969, when their rendition of "Soul Sacrifice" (from this album) was one of few musical highlights of the event. This album is almost perfect mix of acid-rock, Latino percussions, soul, blues and hints of future jazz improvised jams. Even though not strictly a "prog-rock", "Santana" is more than likely to satisfy the taste of many prog fans.
Review by erik neuteboom
4 stars Originally the first Santana album (working title Freeway Jam) was scheduled to be released in the first part of 1969 but due to inexperience with studio recording and the unhappiness about the structureless compositions Santana postponed it. And when Santana went back to the studio they had fired conga player Doc Livingstone who was replaced by the excellent Jose Chepito Areas from Nicaragua (like Bianca Jagger..).

For me the eponymous debut LP by Santana is one of the most exciting debut releases, how sensational it must have been to listen to this album in late 1969! Although not every song is at a very high level (Shadows Of Time, Savor and You Just Don't Care are very pleasant 'fillers'), most compositions still blow me away, what an exciting fusion of blues, rock and Afro-Cuban: powerful, omnipresent Hammond organ and fiery, often howling guitar in the swinging Waiting, a sultry climate with fiery guitar in Evil ways, spectacular Hammond organ work in the very rhythmic Savor, great interplay between Santana his sensitive guitar and Rolie his bluesy piano in Treat, another swirling Hammond organ solo in You Just Don't Care and finally the 'Woodstock highlight' Soul Sacrefice featuring propulsive congas, adventurous drumming and a great duel between Santana his guitar and Rolie his Hammond organ, accompanied by exciting percussion.

The debut LP sold very well and Santana and his band were hot. The story goes that Jimi Hendrix asked him or he could join Santana, he was so thrilled about the blend of Afro-Cuban percussion and the rock and blues. But Carlos simply answered "What the hell I should play...?" but another problem for Carlos was also that Jimi was so much into hard drugs. Anyway, soon Jimi died and Carlos was hailed as a new guitar hero.

Review by mystic fred
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars 1969 and all that...

1969 - a very exciting year for rock fans, many new styles and influences had been appearing from all over the world and the foundations were being laid down for future generations. Among these was Carlos Santana from Mexico, who brought a new Latin influence to electric guitar led rock, Carlos unselfishly allowing his unrestrained musicians to express themselves freely with exciting Latin drums, percussion and organ openly competing with the lead instrument, but all blending in perfectly at the same time.

Having almost stolen the show at Woodstock with a brilliant well-documented performance of "Soul Sacrifice" Santana took the music world by storm even before this amazing first album was released. The popular laid-back peace-loving Hippy image belied a ruthless businesslike professionalism among musicians and artists, all competing yet all sharing a revitalised hotbed of creativity and imagination, by this time even The Beatles were beginning to be overshadowed by overwhelmingly talented artists such as Santana, the Blues boom and the emergence of the Progressive revolution. Such was the level of creative pressure at this time bands were expected to release an album (or two) every year and they still managed to produce great music - we never had it so good!

Santana had honed his band and his sound almost to perfection, very evident on this milestone debut album, the crystal clarity, freshness and vitality bursts through the speakers on every track, so much energy is here it is impossible to keep still - I remember at the time at almost every party this sexy soulful music would be played over and over! I still play this album regularly, often marvelling at the brilliant sound quality and vitality it reveals.

Most of the tracks on this album are exceptional - the first "Waiting" starts gently and features the rock organ punctuated by brief busts of guitar and bongos, but by the second track things start to cook! The moderately paced "Evil Ways" was a huge hit for the band, and is well-placed in the sequence of tracks here (I love the line "when I come home, baby, my house is dark and my pots are cold.."), after liquid solos from Carlos and Gregg Rolie on organ things literally burst into speed, a good primer for the fast pace the songs reach in the next three tracks on side 1. "Shades of Time" slips into a classic latin beat then literally bursts out of the speakers! An amazing catchy riff and solo from Carlos the song then leads into "Savor" - now things are really cooking on gas, as they say! A fast and furious Latin jam featuring percussion and organ, those drums really come alive, and that single splash cymbal hovers way up over the speakers, and if that wasn't enough the song is followed by another monster hit, the instrumental "Jin-Go-Lo-Ba", used for countless TV and radio themes, the tribal drums on this have to be heard to be believed, lauded by music fans of every genre, the beat is magical and infectious - guaranteed to break the thickest ice!

On side 2 the pressure doesn't let up, though "Persuasion", and "You Just Don't Care" are possibly the weakest songs on the album, but still contain some amazing musicianship, "Treat" is an slow bluesey instrumental containing some late-nite bar room tinkling piano, the middle section breaks into a Latin rhythm and a trademark signature solo from Carlos, it's amazing how much emotion this man can bleed from a guitar - a true master even at this early stage in his career. The whole album is crowned by their masterpiece "Soul Sacrifice", eminently displayed at Woodstock where the song ran for eleven minutes but is just over six minutes here. This instrumental has a very catchy theme and a driving beat, which is worked around with some very energetic playing from all musicians in turn, including those drums (Mike Shrieve) , percussion (Mike Carabello and Jose Chepito Areas) and organ (Gregg Rolie).

This important debut was the first in a run of four of Santana's best albums, praised by fans of all genres, and an essential masterpiece to any Jazz/Fusion collection!

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Great start from Santana on their road to stardom, fame - whatever you want to call it. This late 60's release represented an excellent example of how well prog related bands do on their debut releases. This album is no exception. Gregg Rolie on keyboards and vocals, Carlos Santana, guitars and backing vocals and Areas adding to the percussion and the 'Santana' trademark sound backed by Shrieve's drums and David Brown on bass. Last but not least the congas from Carabello.The album commences with the emphatic ' Waiting' followed by the ever so popular ' Evil Ways'. But for me ' Soul Sacrifice' the closer is the highlight on this excellent debut album. Highly recommended!
Review by ZowieZiggy
5 stars This was the third Santana album I purchased (in 1972 while I was 13). The line-up here is one of the best ever (only surpassed with the addition of Neal Schon for Santana III and Caravanserai).

This album is definitely the most afro-latino record of the band. Percussions are fantastic and the work of Greg Rolie on the keys has a major influence on the band. The master, of course, already a guitar phenomenon.

There is no time for reflexion when you spin this album : the wild opener "Waiting" is fantastic. An orgy of keys and a sublime finale.What a great number. Next track is their hit-single "Evil Ways" (peaked Nr. 9 in the US) : it starts with a kind of cha cha rythm and again the final part is truely sublime with wild guitar from who you know.

"Shades Of Time / Savor" (no blanks between) is pure fury. This music drives you crazy. Really. If you are keyboard oriented (not the prog type of keys of course), this album is made for you. "Jingo" closes side one of the original album and is also a bloody good number. It was quite criticized though, specially the sung part. Reviewers from "Rolling Stone" saying :"The record company slipped on this one and did not include a libretto. Here it is : Go-Ba-Ba Go-Ba-Ba Go-Ba-Ba Lumpa Thumpa, Boom Boom, Bang Bang Thump Thump". Gregg will say : "They must have been listening to something I didn't hear. Later on, it dawned on me that it didn't matter, as long as they spell our name right".

"Persuasion" is of the same vein. A vibrant and extremely powerful number. This album is exhausting. No weak track. Just craziness. Some moments of relief with the jazzy "Treat". It starts slow (for about one minute only, do not worry) but develops greatly crescendo in a very nice piano/ guitar solo. It ends up quite slowly again as it started.

"You Just Don't Care" is a hard track. Rageous vocals from Gregg (which is unusual) and an almost heavy band is backing. VERY strong organ and guitar.

And finally "Soul Sacrifice".

I was quite interested in discovering the studio version for Soul Sacrifice that I discovered (in 1971) on the Woodstock triple album (by that time I knew it by heart - yes every hit on the drums). This number is one of my favourite all bands, all genres being considered. It is difficult of course to appreciate the studio version when you get acquainted with this extraordinary live one (but several other bands will play the concert of their lives at Woodstock). I am extremely biased on "Sould Sacrifice" (I am physically shivered as I write - really). It is undescribable.

In 2001, I purchased the remastered CD version that includes almost their complete Woodstock set (only "Persuasion" is missing). We get "Savor", "Fried Neckbones" and of course "Soul". This live rendition from Woodstock (presented here in a longer version than in the soundtrack) was a highlight of this festival (but there were so many). I have never heard a better one.

To avoid spending money several times (as I did), the best purchase you can do is the Legacy Edition (2002). This two CD set contains the four Woodstock tracks, alternate versions of studio tracks (pre-Shrieve era) and live versions from almost each number of the album. This is really great additional value.

The album entered the US chart in September 1969 (one month after their Woodstock marvelous performance). But it was released in August. It will peak at Nr. 4 and will stay in the charts for 108 weeks (yes, man. More than two years) and will sell more than two million copies.

The producer will say : "When it came out, you could not turn on the radio without hearing the damn record. In the middle of all that vapid bulls..t that was going on with psychedelia that was happening in '69, here was the essence boiled down to drums and percussion and pulse. It was just balls out music, and that's what people wanted to hear". I bet you !

It is one of the best first album (with "The Doors" - 67) released by a band back then. This album also reminds me very special feelings. I mentioned this already in my review for "Machine Head". During the whole of 1972, I spent ten months of my young life laying in bed due to a serious leg injury. I had nothing else to do than listening to music. And what a music ! This is integrant part of my very life. Emotionally (I love emotions) I add one star to this album to rate it five stars. It is MY masterpiece.

Review by Chicapah
4 stars When I think of the music of the late 60s I think of the musicians and bands of that wild era as being like chemists in that they were experimenting and mixing rock and roll with every style known to man and coming up with new hybrids right and left. By 1969 one of the only genres left untapped was the spicy influence of the countries lying south of the continental United States. But even then there were some clever scientists in the lab working on changing that oversight. Introduce the obscure group Santana onto the biggest live showcase of the century and you have an instant phenomenon.

The opening of "Waiting" gives you the impression of an approaching stampede and soon the group explodes into a fiery instrumental that quickly surrounds you with this new sound. You get a short dose of growling Hammond organ, biting guitar and a torrent of congas to get your heart racing before they slip into the classic "Evil Ways" that took even stodgy AM radio by storm. To this day it's still a great track with Gregg Rolie's sly organ solo and Carlos Santana's burning guitar. It was a much-needed uptempo hit song in the midst of a strange and tumultuous year. "Shades of Time" contains shades of Tejano phrasing and also displays Carlos' more delicate fingering on his lead. "Savor" is a feverishly paced instrumental that declares to us the mastery of Mike Carabello and Jose Chepito Areas as they literally tear it up on timbales and congas. Rolie's percussive organ taps add a hot flavor to the song, as well. "Jingo" is another perfect example of the mature attitude of the band. The vocals are just a group chant here as they put emphasis on melody first, then they have the patience to allow the infectious rhythm to rule without interruption. "Persuasion" is just pure rock from start to finish. "Treat" is a needed changeup. It begins with some scat piano, then segues into a faster "Evil Ways" progression before dropping back down to the sultry piano again. "You Just Don't Care" is a prime model of the unmistakable San Francisco blues sound that surrounded the band during their conception. Unfortunately it reveals Rolie's limitations as a singer but Carlos' fierce guitar more than makes up for it. "Soul Sacrifice" is an epic and the very essence of Santana. Much, much more than just a jam session, it features the structured melodies and dynamic accents that would separate them from the madding crowd of pretenders. The young Michael Shrieve finally gets to shine in a short drum solo before they climax with a definitive rock concert ending that leaves you breathless. This version is just as exciting as their spellbinding performance on the Woodstock soundtrack.

If there's any downside to this classic it's that there's not a lot of variance of tones here. And that's probably because the execs at Columbia wanted to seize the momentum they had created and get them into the studio ASAP. It sounds like the engineers never moved a microphone and just let the band cut the tracks one after another and that's not a crime. It gives the album an authenticity and unenhanced quality that makes it very refreshing and real. Combine all that with one of the best album covers ever and you've got yourself a remarkable debut. Progressive? Very much so.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Distracting sleeve alert!

Santana's debut album dates from 1969, and as such would fit neatly into the proto-prog category. This is a mix of guitar led semi-improvised instrumentals, and more orthodox pop fare with dominant vocals. These are bound together by ever present Latin rhythms, and some fine organ work by Gregg Rolie.

There is an energy and excitement to the album which carries along the weaker tracks, and positively drives the better ones. Tracks such as "Waiting", "Jingo" and "Savor" all follow a similar pattern of mixing repetitive beats with bursts of virtuoso guitar. When the pace is dropped, and more orthodox drumming is used (such as on "You just don't care"), the influence of Jimi Hendrix is much more perceptible.

While the dominant Latin rhythms are what defines the album's character, it is in fact what we now know as jazz-fusion which is the underlying style. I find the incessant Latin backing, especially the congas, can become tiresome but there is no denying the excellence of the guitar work.

From a prog perspective, this album is more about the foundations it laid than any suggestion that there is much in the way of actual prog here. While this is not really the type of music I would spend a lot of time listening to, the album is undoubtedly a landmark recording. Every prog fan should at least be aware of Santana's debut release, and preferably should hear it at least once, as it will help them to understand the development of the genre to which this site is dedicated.

By the way, the apparent image of an open mouthed lion on the sleeve reveals itself on inspection to also be a scantily clad lady with a grass skirt on.

Review by Flucktrot
4 stars This debut from another classic band is yet another reason I wish I was alive in 1969. Here Santana deliver their infectious Latin- tinged brand of rock to the masses, and obviously the people loved it. Given the somewhat regrattable directions that Carlos and company would later take over the years, it's important to consider where it all started: up-tempo, guitar powered rock, made unique by blistering organ and ever-present congas. This is a great combo, and Santana came as close to anyone to perfecting it (though unfortunately I am less impressed when Carlos deviated from this formula).

I won't go into each song, but suffice it to say that there are no low points. On the other hand, there's also nothing that really jumps out at me as spectacular either: it's just a solid 40 minutes of rock. We've got the classic rock hit (Evil Ways), catchy instrumentals (the groovy opener, Waiting, the up-tempo Savor, and hard-driving Jingo), and even the blues-tinged You Just Don't Care. There's plenty of catchy melodies and just enough diversity that you don't feel like you're hearing the same song repeatedly, though each tune definitely has the signature classic Santana sound. Most reviewers point to the closer, Soul Sacrifice as a highlight. It's certainly a nice instrumental, though nothing decidedly better than the rest of the album to my ears. It even sounds to me that they were dragging the tempo a bit--something they would have no trouble with in the next few albums!

If you like Santana, you need this album. If you need a more progressive edge, you won't find it here: all you get is a good dose of raw, Santana rock, and that's good enough for me! Four stars for this impressive debut.

Review by Easy Money
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars Today it really is hard to appreciate what this album sounded like when it came out in the late 60s. Music that was this rhythmically kinetic, as well as heavy and loud did not exist before Santana broke out of the new Latin-rock scene and captured the attention of the whole world. This album was a perfect blend of pop Latin-jazz and the new heavy rock sound of the day, sort of like Deep Purple sitting in with Mongo Santamaria.

Although almost everything on this album is good, there are five tracks in particular that stand out as extremely original classics in the world of progressive rock; Waiting, Savor, Treat, Soul Sacrifice and Jingo. All five of these tunes combine driving percussion with beautiful, almost classical guitar melodies. Savor has such an intense rhythmic drive that it is impossible to sit still when it hits the speakers. Although Carlos' guitar technique would become more advanced over the years, I think his melodies on this album are his most direct and passionate ever. Each melody blends perfectly with the percussion section and increases the drive and energy of their playing.

Greg Rolie may not be able to play the long-line solos of a Brian Auger or Jon Lord, but he makes great use of the skills he has and delivers great B-3 solos that are a perfect complement to Carlos' guitar solos. Probably Greg's biggest asset is that he really knows what sounds good on a B-3 and works well with the swell pedal and the speed change on the Leslie. I always preferred Greg's playing to the more dry and technical playing of Tom Coster, who would later replace Greg in the band.

One of the more interesting aspects of this album is how Carlos arranges the guitar and organ to approximate the sound of a horn section in a more traditional Latin jazz band. Carlos's doubled guitar lines sound like the trumpet section while Greg's Hammond takes the role of the rest of the horns.

This album was practically shocking when it first came out. Although the shock has wore off, it still sounds amazing today. Music this energetic and passionate is truly hard to come by.

Review by memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Pre 70s prog, and how amazing!

Santana in Mexico is synonym of one of our most representative musicians, though he has lived almost his entired life in the US, his music was created in the US, Mexican people feel proud of having a Carlos Santana.

When i was like a 10-year kid i first listened to this album, as you can imagine it was my introduction to Santana's music, at that time i was not a real fan of music but anyways i found it quite enjoyable, then some years later i re-listened to it and really loved it. So this was actually (i had not realized about it) one of my first introductions to progressive rock music, with a latin and jazz oriented style, but anyway when we listen to this album we cannot argue about it being prog, i say this because i remember this was one of the endless controversials and nowadays non- stop additions to this site.

Santana's first and self titled album was released back in 1969 the same year when the progressive rock era according to a lot of people was born, with Crimson's debut. This album features 9 songs, in the remaster edition it has 3 extra songs which are live songs, the original one has a lenght of 35+ minutes, which may be short but when it's filled with great music, we can repeat it several times and enjoying it equally.

It opens with Waiting, an instrumental song which since the very first moments shows us a noticeable latin and jazzy style with those percussion instruments, very characteristic from Santana`s music. Evil Ways is one of my favourite Santana's song, first of all because it was the first one that really caught my attention when i was a kid, it's lyrics were the first ones my mind kept, and it's a well known song, as i said it's the first song of the album with lyrics, it has a beautiful mood and mid tempo style which at the end turns faster with the addition of a powerful Santana solo.

Next song is Shades of Time, which in some ways is alike to the previous one, it's jamming points, it's keyboards and the great drumming along with the always predominat guitar, makes another excellent song here.

Savor actually is like the second part of Shades of Time, it immediately continues from one song to other, but this one starts with a powerful percussion sound which then is accompanied with amazing keyboards making a psychedelic-latin style, a lot of energy here, an extra point in Santana's music.

Jingo is another representative song, the percussion at the beginning are very recognizable, then the keys enter little by little in order to open the door to the guitars, some seconds later the vocals appear with but the outstanding percussion never dissapears, which is something that Santana`s music has always offered to us, this is a song i like a lot.

Persuasion is a song that for some reason always reminds me to Cream, it features vocals and a psychedelic feeling provoked by the keyboards, in my personal opinion, this is the less good song of the album, which doesn't mean it's not good, not at all.

Treat is the first song that shows a slower introduction based on a piano sound, but wait, after a minute or so it seems like the energy will start up again, and yes it is some keyboards, nice bass lines and the other instruments make it more intense, this is another instrumental song and let me tell you that a thing i like a lot about Santana's albums is the combination of songs with and without vocals. At the second part of the song it returns again to the slow tempo song that was at the beginning.

You Just Don't Care starts instrumentally with a pure psychedelic sound, you know that guitars and those keyboars, but suddenly the vocals appear with a kind of bluesy style, this is a fabolous song which if you want to label, would fit perfectly as a proto prog song, great heavy Santana side of music.

And last but not least, the amazind Soul Sacrifice which is also the longest track of the album, and another top notch moment of the band's career. Like i said in Jingo, this starts with a recongizable percussion sound, Chepito was unique believe me, his playing is a main role on this music, i believe this song along with some others, defines what Santana's music really is and why Santana is a unique band, nowadays we know Carlos has been involved in some commercial acts, but that's another point. Soul Sacrifice is an incredible ending for an amazing album, which is a must having for any rock fan, not really for a prog rock fan but without a doubt quite recommendable.

My final grade will be 4 stars, you fans of prog rock, will be please with this kind of afro latin psychedelic jazzy etc Santanesque style of music, and i shouldn't say this, but the youngs who think that The Mars Volta are original and unique, please listen to Santana and see that this is just an slice of TMV influences . Excellent addition to any prog fan, highly recommendable!!!

Review by MovingPictures07
4 stars This is a great debut from a promising band in the realm of jazz and latin fusion (with their early work anyway). It's a shame they didn't keep this up for longer than they did!

1. Waiting- Wow, fantastic organ work here! This song is hard to resist and has some really interesting organ soloing on it. This is Santana fusion at its best and features good guitar work from Carlos (what a surprise). Try not to like this one! 10/10

2. Evil Ways- This is a much more popular Santana song that is the vein of a slower track, but it still is catchy and pretty enjoyable. I'd take this kind of well-known Santana over their later work in a heartbeat. Great instrumental interplay appears as the song develops. Fantastic! 9/10

3. Shades of Time- Another catchy song here with further great instrumentation with a jazzy feel. Not as blazingly awesome as the first two songs, but still pretty good with some more good guitar from Carlos. 8/10

4. Savor- This starts out with awesome Latin percussion and then proceeds to feature some more really groovy, outstanding instrumental work. This is my personal favorite; the instruments are all on fire! You can feel the intensity of the fusion. 10/10

5. Jingo- A good, commanding and building intro then explodes with some guitar into a Spanish-sung straight-forward rocker with guitar work driving it along. The percussion and instrumentation are awesome, even if the vocals can get annoying eventually, so that adds another point. 8/10

6. Persuasion- Decent song here with funky organ, but it's not one of my favorites and doesn't strike a chord with me as much as the previous songs. The musicianship is good and the song structure is sufficient for its length. Not bad. 6/10

7. Treat- The piano is featured more here, giving the organ a nice break and introducing a more relaxing feel to this song, despite the very impressive, fast jazzy piano parts. The instruments again all play together well and I love the percussion touch. This is another wonderful fusion instrumental from Santana and the crew. 9/10

8. You Just Don't Care- Another really good song with Carlos's fantastic guitar work and everyone else complementing well. This one features vocals and is more in the vein of Persuasion as it is more of a rockier, repetitive song with atypical fusion elements. For that reason, I don't like it as much as the more explorative blazing pieces, but it still is good. Carlos's mid-song solo is of particular note. 7/10

9. Soul Sacrifice- Hypnotic, groovy percussion opens this one and you know immediately you're in for a treat (which is coming two songs late I suppose). The interplay between the drums, percussion, guitar, and organ is fantastic here and this is an effective closer. You can hear the instruments talking to each other well on this track-a feature which I think makes it extremely intriguing. If you want to hear what Santana's sound is all about, just give this song a listen. 10/10

This is a very important album in the makings of jazz and Latin fusion with rock and it is extremely good. It is close to being a masterpiece, but barely misses the mark and still is an excellent addition to any prog music collection.

A wonderful album of blazing, enjoyable instrumental work and an almost dance-able fusion edge that makes it unique and extremely satisfying. Recommended.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Santana" is the debut full-length studio album by US, San Francisco based fusion/latin rock act Santana. The lineup on the album features, in addition to band leader Carlos Santana (guitar, vocals), Gregg Rolie (organ, piano, vocals), David Brown (bass guitar), Michael Shrieve (drums), Michael Carabello (timbales, congas, percussion) and Jose 'Chepito' Areas (timbales, congas, percussion). The original album, which was released through Columbia Records in August 1969, featured 9 tracks, while the 1999 re-issue features three bonus tracks from Santana's performance at the Woodstock festival in 1969. In 2004 a new double CD version called the "Legacy Edition" was released. It features the original album, some alternate takes and studio jams on Disc 1, and the original unreleased sessions from the album in addition to the full Woodstock festival performance by Santana on Disc 2. itīs the "Legacy Edition" Iīm reviewing.

Santana started out strictly being a jam act, but their manager Bill Graham suggested that they should begin writing more structured songs, to give them more commercial appeal. The 9 tracks on the original album reflects both their jam past and the more structured songwriting approach suggested by the manager. The music is a kind of psychadelic rock/fusion with a strong latin influence. With a drummer and two percussionists there is a strong emphasis on rythmic playing on the album. Itīs mostly the organ playing by Gregg Rolie that reeks of psychadelic San Francisco based rock. Itīs probably wrong to call it psychadelic rock but there are some elements in the music that points in that direction. Carlos Santanaīs guitar style is unique and gives the music a great energetic touch. While the tracks are predominantly instrumental there are some tracks on the album which feature vocals. "Evil Ways", which is one of the tracks featuring vocals, became quite a hit and itīs understandable as itīs an accessible and commercially strong composition. All tracks on the album are of high quality though and this is the kind of album that always bring a special mood to my house. Itīs simply impossible for me to sit still while listening to "Santana". I have to move around my home beating on lambs and chairs to get some of the restless energy out of my body that this album creates. What a great feeling. The alternate takes and studio jams on Disc 1 are probably the least exciting thing on the album, but they are still greatly enjoyable and a nice bonus.

Disc 2 contains the original unreleased sessions from the album in addition to the full Woodstock festival performance by Santana. This should be seen as bonus material, but this is more than worth the inclusion on the album. The first 6 tracks on Disc 2 come from the unreleased original sessions for the album and itīs great to hear some of the tracks that made it unto the album in different versions but there are also a couple of tracks that didnīt make it unto the original album. The last 7 tracks on Disc 2 are the full 1969 Woodstock festival performance by Santana. The reissue from 1999 only featured three tracks from that performance as bonus tracks but on the "Legacy Edition" weīre treated to the full performance. A great energetic performance by the band that certainly deserves a release.

The sound production on the original album and the production for the unreleased sessions for the album are excellent, warm and powerful. The live tracks also feature a good sound quality. There might be other albums in Santanaīs discography that are more frequently highly praised than this debut album but every time I listen to this album Iīm blown away by the wild and enthusiastic energy. Those rythms are so captivating, the organ playing is excellent, the vocals are strong and Carlos Santanaīs guitar playing is unique and innovative. This album is in other words nothing short of fantastic and a 4.5 star (90%) rating is well deserved.

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Santana's debut album is well known and is absolut classic right now, after 40 (!) years of it's release date!

Still with strong blues-rock and Frisco psychodelia roots, you can hear here how latin-fusion was born! Perfect combination of heavy keyboards, Latin drums and Santana's latin guitar sound for the first time bring this hot mix to the music world. Album's music is coming more from rock and Latin-folk than from jazz, so don't expect too much complexity there. But the music has it fantastic soul,coming right from the streets!

Half instrumental album is spiced with perfect Gregg Rolie ( future Journey) vocals. Both together is very strong debut important as well as cornerstone of Latin fusion and long successful Santana's career .

I just listened it one more time right now ( for it's 40 years anniversary!). Believe me, it sounds fresh and attractive, nothing like a good from museum.

Absolutely recommended for any fan of Latin Fusion as the one from style's Golden Archive. As well should be interesting for any lover of Latin Rock, blues-rock, guitar jazz-rock as well.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars As Finnforest pointed out in his review of Zappa's "Freak Out !", the debuts of certain bands that came out in the sixties were very significant. Sure with some of these bands you could say they released better albums later on, but unless you were there it's hard to appreciate how groundbreaking and important albums like "Pipers At The Gates Of Dawn", "Freak Out !" , "Are You Experienced" and many others were. This is another one of those. SANTANA was different with those Latin beats and Carlos' unique guitar style. I prefer the next three albums they put out more than this debut but man this album is very significant on many different levels. This was released in the summer of 1969 and my edition has three bonus tracks from their performance at Woodstock in August of that same year.

"Waiting" opens with lots of percussion as the organ joins in. Check out the guitar before 3 1/2 minutes. "Evil Ways" is of course a popular hit for the band with that catchy beat. Some nice organ after 2 minutes. It picks up before 3 minutes with guitar. "Shades Of Time" opens with guitar,organ and drums. It settles in with vocals and percussion as contrasts continue.

"Savor" opens with percussion galore then some powerful organ runs invade the scene. It blends into "Jingo" which has a heavy beat with organ then some wicked guitar. Themes are repeated. Great tune. "Persuasion" is uptempo with vocals. The guitar after 2 minutes is excellent with the organ helping out. "Treat" opens with piano as percussion joins in and it builds. Guitar after 2 minutes. Great sound ! It settles back late. "You Just Don't Care" has a bombastic intro then it settles with vocals but there are outbursts of bombast that come and go. Love the guitar and organ 3 minutes in. "Soul Sacrifice" is my favourite track on here. Percussion is joined quickly by a full sound. Nice guitar 3 1/2 minutes in with organ and percussion. Some killer organ follows.

The summer of 1969 was one special time not only for SANTANA but for their fans too.

Review by friso
3 stars Santana - st (1969)

This albums can be pointed at as the birth of Latin-rock, some say latin fusion. The guitar dominated rock of Santana added some soul to the normal improvised rock of the day. The additions of percussion and Latin styled vocals gave this rock-band a totally new vibe. Santana had yet to become the famous king subtle on the electric guitar, but on the debut he already played some amazing solo's. I myself never was a great fan of his subtle guitar parts, on this album I sometimes shiver because they are slightly out of pitch at times. His heavy and fast solo's are very interesting though.

The composition on this album is good. A combination of rock songs with soul and good hard rock improvisations of a band with a leader (instead of a leader and a band). The organs are very classy, the drums and percussions warm and the vocals are authentic. The guitar sound thick and warm.

The link between Santana and progressive rock has never been very apparent to me. The music is melodic, at times inventive, it has both soul and it rocks. But progressive? Not at all. Jazz-rock/Fusion? Nowhere to be found. Prog-related would have been a better description since Caravanserai has some progressive influences. Nevertheless, discussions about it's genre aren't of much importance here, since a lot of people on PA just seem to like Santana's music.

A good album of a good band. It's style is innovative and it's musicianship both good and authentic. Three and a halve stars.

Review by The Quiet One
5 stars S-an-TUNNING

There were many kinds of innovating albums back then in the 60s, those that incorporated other cultures music, others that used new techniques of production, others started making suites or conceptual albums, and so on. Well, the Santana band with their debut innovated the mix between late 60s electrifying rock with Latin American's percussive fest.

Carlos chose the perfect ingredients to triumph with this style: his emotional guitar that could also rock hard, Greg's great B3 Hammond Organ and suitable vocals, and a highly entertaining and involved rhythm section. The result was definitely original and catchy.

Yes, this is a debut album, so don't expect the refined and sophisticated playing that was shown in Caravanserai, but that doesn't matter actually once you listen to the album. It's pure enjoyment: from the rockin' instrumentals 'Waiting', 'Savor' and 'Soul Sacrifice' demonstrating the rock and rhythmic powder of the band to the incredibly fun singles 'Evil Ways' and 'Jingo' and finally to the beautiful instrumental entitled 'Treat' with Greg playing the piano for a change.

Santana, the album, is indeed less diverse and rawer than future releases, like Abraxas that has jazz inspired tunes and some gentle instrumentals or the full-blown jazzy Caravanserai, but that's really just the consequence of being a debut album and because of that it shouldn't be criticized.

Essential rock album and a masterpiece of latin infused rock/hard rock. All of you prog fans are rock fans, so if you don't have this and Abraxas you still can't consider yourselves true rock fans.

Review by seventhsojourn
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Santana's groundbreaking debut album followed hard on the heels of their legendary performance at the Woodstock festival, and the 1999 reissue contains three live bonus tracks from that very performance. Among these extra tracks is a show-stopping, percussion- propelled version of ''Soul Sacrifice'' as well as ''Fried Neckbones'', a stunning track where Carlos' smoky guitar trades licks with Chepito's trumpet (rather than his usual percussion). While the album is largely instrumental, many people will probably be most familiar with a couple of its vocal tracks that were released as singles.

''Evil Ways'', with its theme of relationship problems, was the second single taken from the album and reached the US Top 10. The first track culled as a single, ''Jingo'', features dynamic drumming and is in fact a cover version of a song by Nigerian percussionist Babatunde Olatunji. While it was over-shadowed at the time by the more commercially successful ''Evil Ways'', the chant-like ''Jingo'' has subsequently come to encapsulate the early Santana fusion of sultry blues-based guitar complemented by rasping Hammond organ and underpinned by African-Latin rhythms. By way of contrast ''Treat'' demonstrates the opposite ends of the Santana spectrum with its subdued jazz piano sections, punctuated by an upbeat, soulful guitar passage.

All in all this is a joyous collection of Latin-infused rock, enhanced by some truly wonderful bonus tracks. For those willing to push the boat out, a few extra greenbacks will get you the 2- disc 2004 Legacy Edition that includes all seven tracks from the Woodstock performance.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Santana's first album is one of those albums everyone needs to hear. It's got so many of Santana's popular titles and also the lesser known items are worth the investment.

Santana's sound is still very rocking here, at times even heavy rocking, with influences from Jimi Hendrix and the 'organ-rock' that was so typical those days. In combination with the Latin percussion and soul influences it makes for album that is both mainstream and original. A rare combination. Especially the tracks that are dominated but the ethnic influences attract me. Being a bit of a drummer's groupie, I find the integration of the percussion in Savor, Jin-Go-Lo-Ba and Sould Sacrifice simply superb.

For many listeners this album has been a true companion for decades, I've also known most of these tracks since ages, but I hadn't heard the album in its entity till recently. And I must say that from a 2010 perspective, this album still sounds fresh, energetic and relevant. A must-have.

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is a great debut album from the band called Santana. Before this album was released they blew away the crowd at Woodstock. Before Santana, not many rock fans had ever heard the sound of congas and timbales before. The cover art is fantastic. If you look close enough there are all kinds of faces in there. This album put Latin rock on the map and was very influential. However, later albums would get more jazzy and experimental.

"Evil Ways" is a classic Latin rock song, a cover. I like the jam at the end. "Savor" is a good instrumental. Lots of percussion. "Jingo" is one of the highlights here. Another cover. Great guitar playing. Cool chanting vocals. "Persuasion" has always been my favourite song. Love the 3 note organ part. Just a great song. "Treat" starts with piano, then drums and guitar playing in a bluesy ballad style. Later goes Latin rock with a good guitar solo. Ballad style comes back.

"You Just Don't Care" is one of the more interesting songs. I love the beginning to this song. Very proto-proggy. Good drumming. The majority of the song is blues-rock. "Soul Sacrifice" was not a single and doesn't get played much on radio. But it's still considered a classic song. Percussion and jazzy drumming with good rock organ. Great guitar playing from Carlos in this song.

The sound is kind of muddy and the next album would be an improvement in production. This is still one of the better debut albums from 1969. This line up features vocalist/organist Greg Rollie and drummer Michael Shrieve. Both would go on to work with others throughout the 1970s. Santana has better albums but this is still a good debut. 3 stars.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The debut for iconic legends soul rocking Santana is a phenomenal album full of songs that would cement the band as contenders for one of the most successful groups in history. Carlos Santana is the driving force on lead guitar and absolutely energizes each track with dynamic creativity. The power of the tracks is injected with heavy stabbing overpowering Hammond. The first Santana experience for me was the Woodstock "Soul Sacrifice" performance with that wonderful guitar lick and the amazing drum solo that is unforgettable both visually and aurally. Nothing could compare to that but the studio version is still not too bad though lacking that energy in the live performance. It is always going to be synonymous with Santana's greatest hit and features on every compilation of the group.

The debut album is mainly instrumental and is all the better for it. It begins with a bright jam session on "Waiting", a sanctuary of incessant bongos and pumping bass. "Evil Ways" follows and has become a part of Santana's set list over the years and for good reason. It features amazing dextrous playing of Carlos and swathes of organ that locks into some of the most infectious melodies the band generated. There are Latin flavours wrapped up in "Shades of Time" driven by no less than three percussionists. An instrumental follows in "Savor" and then the wonderful "Jingo" sung in Spanish and Carlos is an inferno on guitar; an absolutely extraordinary guitarist with worldwide acclaim thanks to tracks like this.

Later on in the album we are treated to the six minute instrumental, "Soul Sacrifice" that is unforgettable with manic percussion and staccato Hammond blasts. It sends a chill down my spine every time and is my all time favourite Santana piece. It caps off a very strong debut that has become engrained in the band's success and indeed is one of the all time great debuts of 1969.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Santana's debut album finds Carlos and crew setting the pattern for the first few releases by the band before their Caravanserai-era incorporation of fusion influences. The skill with which the band are able to infuse the major rock modes of the day - psychedelia on the one hand and Cream-inspired blues rock on the other - with distinctive Latin influences is what makes the album. Not afraid to stretch out and jam, always aware of when it's time to cut back on that and get back to business, the album shows a fine sense of balance between freewheeling experimentation on the one hand and technical prowess on the other, with a warm atmosphere which stops the musical performances from becoming clinical or alienating. In short, it's one hell of a party album.
Review by stefro
5 stars The release of the 1978 AOR-themed studio album 'Inner Secrets' signalled the end of an era for Santana, the group's incendiary mix of latino-rock, jazz and psychedelia finally put to bed after a remarkable run that began nine years earlier in San Francisco. The line-up of Gregg Rolie(keyboards, vocals), Carlos Santana(guitar), Jose Areas(percussion), David Brown(bass) and Michael Shrieve(drums) would prove to be the first great incarnation of the group, and the five-piece would enjoy a pretty sensational start after their headline-grabbing performance at that year's happening Woodstock festival. Thanks to the sizzling live set and clever timing on behalf of the label, 1969's 'Santana', the group's self-titled debut, quickly found an audience, its distinct mixture of sounds and styles fitting in nicely with the burgeoning West Coast scene of the late-sixties. Eventually, 'Santana' would reach No.4 on the US Billboard charts. Influenced strongly by the group's live style, the album would rely largely on the group's instrumental prowess, taking on a jam-band aesthetic peppered with Santana's searing electric solo's, Jose Areas' ghostly percussive streaks and Rolie's stinging organ runs. Two singles, the jaunty 'Jingo' and the funk-rock cut 'Evil Ways', were culled from the album, and although 'Jingo' failed to chart, an edited version of 'Evil Ways' peaked at No.10. A thrilling slice of early rock fusion, 'Santana' was a highly-successful debut, although the group would quickly leave behind that album's sound in favour of the more studio-refined 'Abraxas', and the jazz-fusion trio of 'Caravanserai', 'Welcome' and 'Borboletta'. In between, the triple live album 'Lotus' was issued, culled from a series of Japanes gigs from 1973, though originally it was released as a Japan-only issue. Nevertheless, it would prove to be one of the year's most popular imports throughout both Europe and North America. This selection of albums, from 'Santana' right up to the half-live, half-studio double-disc offering 'Moonflower' from 1977(essentially a European version of 'Lotus') equals all that is good and great about Santana. Later albums with differing line-ups and modern sounds would simply pale in comparison. Of course, it is arguably 'Abraxas' and 'Caravanserai' that find their group approaching their sonic apex, yet all are recommended. One of the truly great rock groups. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2013
Review by siLLy puPPy
5 stars Nothing screams the summer of 69 and the Woodstock event for me more than SANTANA. One day they were simply the Carlos Santana Band doing small gig venues in San Francisco and the next day after performing at that event they were watching their debut album racing up the charts and reaching number 4 on Billboard. "Evil Ways" also proved to be a huge top 10 hit as well. This rags to riches story may have happened anyway but perhaps not so fast. Their slot on the Woodstock event was actually won by the flip of a coin. Michael Lang, the concert promoter was pressured by Bill Graham to include one of the the acts that Bill managed. It was down to SANTANA and It's A Beautiful Day, another San Francisco band. The coin was flipped, SANTANA won, and enjoyed instant popularity and as we all know, much more was to come.

This is gorgeous album from beginning to end. SANTANA started out as a jam band but was advised to write a few more structured songs by Graham. The result is a perfect mix of free jam energy with structured songwriting that the band perfectly performs knowing when enough is enough and to move on to something else. This new Latin jazz fusion of the day took the world by storm and with half of the band dedicated to percussive instruments it's no wonder the world was mesmerized by this energetic mix of Latin jazz, Afro-Cuban rhythms and heavy psych blues that tied it all to the era. This is one of those album I never tire of. It has a timeless quality to it yet it always brings me to that time and place before my time. My personal favorite SANTANA is this one and what a beauty it is. 4.5 rounded up

Review by Progfan97402
5 stars Santana's appearance at Woodstock certainly left the record company no choice but to quickly have it released. Santana was one of those classic rock groups I always had enjoyed, but given so much of my time had been taken up looking for rare and obscure gems of prog and psych, that I hadn't gotten around to getting much Santana. I am ever glad to get their debut, and what a debut it is! This one seems more rough and unpolished than their more popular followup Abraxas, which I really like. Much of the album is high energy Latin rock. This album shows how much the Afro-Cuban style of Latin rhythms are used, especially the heavy use of congas. Of course, the whole world knows about "Evil Ways", it's became a staple of classic FM rock, and for good reason. It's one of those songs that, yes, it's been overplayed to death on the radio, that it don't bother me, the way "Free Bird" and "Stairway to Heaven" bothers many people (songs that sound impressive when you first hear them, but after hearing those songs a million times since radio DJs never given those two songs a rest,, in fear of losing their audience it does get a bit tiring). I also love Gregg Rolie's style of Hammond organ playing. How about the other songs? "Shades of Time" seems to be cut from the same fabric. They do a cover of Nigerian musician Babatunde Olantuji's "Jin-go-lo-ba", retitled "Jingo" here. Lots of great organ and Latin percussion, I guess doing a song from an African musician drives home the fact the Latin rhythms Santana used were of the Afro-Latin variety. Pierre Moerlen's Gong did a version of it in 1979 on the album Downwind. "Persuasion" and "You Just Don't Care" have a bit of a blues feel to it, while "Treat" has a jazzy feel, demonstrating the jazz influence of Carlos Santana was to be found from Day One. "Soul Sacrifice" is an instrumental jam that became the big highlight at Woodstock. The music here has a jam band quality to it, but not the Grateful Dead variety. They threw in some regular songs (like "Evil Ways") so even more mainstream radio stations have something to play.

Of course, this album largely received positive reviews, but I can't understand why in the life of me rock critic Robert Christgau gave it a C-? I realize Latin music was something he never cared for, but this isn't ordinary Latin music. He pretty pretty much dismissed it as "A lot of noise" and stating his "opposition to the methedrine school of American music". He was sure off base on this one. Most of the other fellow rock critics were more kind. I realize I shouldn't pay much attention to the likes of Christgau, but then he's a perfect example of when rock critics get it wrong (and while I'm at it, usually when rock critics get it wrong is when they pan albums or bands that everyone else loves, sometimes it's the other way around, when they praise albums no one likes, such as the Stones' Dirty Work, liked by the rock critics, hated by the fans).

This might not be a prog album, but why should that bother me? Any fans of classic rock needs this album, it's totally essential, and in fact I actually prefer this over Abraxas (which is too very good, but the more polished nature meant it was a bit less exciting).

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars When you really think about it, this was an absolutely amazing debut album: to have such power, force, consistency, progressivity, while still producing multiple hits--for both FM and AM radio! Simply unheard of (in the prog/Jazz-rock fusion world). Albeit, Carlos and crew don't really fully enter the fold of true prog until their third and fourth albums and his collaborations with Buddy Miles, John McLaughlin, and Alice Coltrane, there are definitely songs and features of both the debut and Abraxas that bear awe from even the most proggy of critics. Compare this album to the debuts of Jazz-Rockers like CHICAGO or NUCLEUS, THE SOFT MACHINE or COLOSSEUM, BLOOD SWEAT & TEARS or THE FREE SPIRITS and you have to give Carlos and company their due. From the opening cymbal, percussion and organ lines of the album's opening song, "Waiting" you know you're in for something special. And then you go into the classic 60s hit, "Evil Ways" which, despite it's SLY & THE FAMILY STONE start, really cooks as it gets deeper into the album. "Shades of Time" is as strong as anything on the Chicago debut and stronger than anything on The Doors albums. "Savor" and "Jin-go-lo-ba" jam, the latter a Latin rock masterpiece. "Pursuasion" shows off the band and singer's Blood, Sweat & Tears side. "Treat" gives a nod to older jazz and Latin forms and artists. "You Just Don't Care" gives more of a nod to the white side of the blues-rock scene (think Yardbirds & John Mayall) and the album's finale, "Soul Sacrifice," with its earworm melodies and call-and-response play between the guitar and organ--as well as between the percussionists--remains one of the most iconic Jazz-rock songs of all-time--largely in part to its presence in the Woodstock movie and reputation as a highlight at the 1969 "Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music" otherwise known as the Woodstock Music Festival. There you have it: the complete set list for one awesome debut album. Is it perfect? No--not nearly. Is it mind-blowing and breath-taking? Some would argue, Yes. In terms of a prog rock, I'd call it a bridge, a harbinger of things to come.
Review by A Crimson Mellotron
4 stars This album is a masterpiece, really. Frantic, explosive, so energetic, but never chaotic without reason. The music here obviously comes from the heart, and I believe this is the main reason why this album is so beloved. It is not only a fantastic example of Latin rock, it is also an exercise in pure emotion - here one can hear the very essence of the term 'jamming'. Tracks like 'Waiting', 'Savor' , 'Jingo', 'Treat', and 'Soul Sacrifice' all showcase the desire of the band members to experiment, something which is well preserved although they were 'made' to add a few more conventional songs, in order to have a chance on the market. Even these compositions are great - a purely enjoyable album from start to finish with no weak spots!

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4 stars The first two legendary albums by Santana showcase the most genuine Santana prototype sound - Latin influenced hard-rock/rock with tight playing from all players. Very original sound, great and accessible interplay, feelings all over the place, strong jamming skills and positive vibes. Guitar p ... (read more)

Report this review (#2343335) | Posted by sgtpepper | Tuesday, March 17, 2020 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is where it all started and 40 years later it is still going strong. From 1969 this is the first release by Carlos Santana and his group. And a wonderful beginning it is. "Waiting", "Evil Ways", "Jingo", it's all good. Not a perfect album but darn close. Hard to believe it has been around for s ... (read more)

Report this review (#733659) | Posted by mohaveman | Friday, April 20, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Santana released their debut album back in 1969. It was the first of three albums by the classic lineup. Even in the beginning, this band was mixing rock, Afro-Latin and jazz music together into something magical. Their sound was also still strongly rooted in the blues (especially on "You Just ... (read more)

Report this review (#489955) | Posted by Frankie Flowers | Sunday, July 24, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars How could it possibly be, that the Santana we all know today, was once this? Musical evolution is a beautiful thing but it is painful in this case, fortunately we still have these brilliant early albums to enjoy. This album is marked by its incredible Latin groove all along the album, always in ... (read more)

Report this review (#214351) | Posted by JTP88 | Friday, May 8, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Well, there's something sentimental about this album because it was one of the first vinyls that I heard when I was a child. I was amazed by the cover art, that kind of lion made by faces and human bodies and over all tha mixture of rock and latin rhytms... wow! I don't remember how many times I ... (read more)

Report this review (#97727) | Posted by progadicto | Wednesday, November 8, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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