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Santana biography
Founded in San Francisco, USA in 1966 - Still active as of 2017

Carlos Humberto Santana Barragán - Born 20 July 1947 (Autlan de Novarra, Jalisco, Mexico)

Best known the world over for the group that bears his name, Carlos Santana has been reinventing and reshaping the landscape of the known universe's musical culture for close to four decades. A visionary artist with no regards for genre boundaries, Carlos' fluid sound long ago laid claim to the concept of "world music" before the term ever surfaced on pop culture radar. Having evolved and expanded for over four decades, the "Carlos" sound could well be on its way to becoming interplanetary music.

Born in Autlan de Navarro where there's now a street and public square in his name--to the son of a virtuoso Mariachi violinist, Carlos followed in his father's musical footsteps, taking up the violin at the age of five. It was when his family moved to Tijuana several years later, however, that Santana began his lifelong relationship with the instrument that would make him a musical icon--the guitar.

In 1961, Carlos made the border crossing moving from his native Mexico to San Francisco. A few years later, he formed the Santana Blues Band there, and the cool, soulful riffs and rhythms of his Latin-blues based sound found an audience eager for his innovative musical ideas. Carlos and company emerged as giants of the era-defining Bay Area music scene of the late '60s, and their fame grew far beyond its parameters while their artistry remained true to its free-flying spirit.

Massive success quickly followed. By the end of the decade, Carlos had played to packed houses on a cross-country tour, performed on the venerable Ed Sullivan Show, and made an indelible global mark with Santana's legendary, crowd-detonating performance at the original Woodstock festival in 1969.

He has not slowed down since: On a roll from his Woodstock performance his debut album shot up the chart bringing in a high-power fusion of rock and Latin beats. The next two albums duplicate the formula every time increasing his profile and winning over fans. With Caravanserai, the group changed directions developing a stunning jazz-rock and the album remains one of the textbook case of fusion music. This prompted Carlos Santana to start a solo career with collaborations with Buddy Miles, John Mc Laughlin (the superb Love, Devotion, Surrender) and Alice Coltrane (the no-less superb Illuminations), wh...
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SANTANA Videos (YouTube and more)

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Africa SpeaksAfrica Speaks
Concord Records 2019
$5.38 (used)
The Best of SantanaThe Best of Santana
Sony Legacy 1998
$2.14 (used)
Sony Legacy 2013
$4.95 (used)
Sony Legacy 2019
$15.70 (used)
Sony Legacy 1998
$3.15 (used)
Ultimate SantanaUltimate Santana
Sony Legacy 2007
$2.16 (used)
Santana (Legacy Edition)Santana (Legacy Edition)
Remastered · Extra tracks
Columbia / Legacy / Sony 2004
$15.00 (used)
In Search of Mona LisaIn Search of Mona Lisa
Concord Records 2019
$8.49 (used)
Santana IVSantana IV
Santana IV Records 2016
$3.89 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
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Devadip-Carlos Santana-Oneness (Silver Dreams-Golden Reality) LP 1979-SBP 237112 USD $20.29 Buy It Now
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SANTANA discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

SANTANA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.14 | 383 ratings
4.24 | 582 ratings
4.00 | 289 ratings
Santana 3
4.23 | 694 ratings
3.47 | 162 ratings
3.68 | 184 ratings
3.26 | 135 ratings
2.70 | 93 ratings
2.50 | 90 ratings
Inner Secrets
2.84 | 89 ratings
2.96 | 87 ratings
2.40 | 67 ratings
1.66 | 59 ratings
Beyond Appearances
1.95 | 45 ratings
2.78 | 46 ratings
Spirits Dancing In The Flesh
2.88 | 46 ratings
3.18 | 174 ratings
2.53 | 78 ratings
2.20 | 48 ratings
All That I Am
2.37 | 47 ratings
Guitar Heaven
3.63 | 70 ratings
Shape Shifter
2.58 | 24 ratings
3.88 | 84 ratings
Santana IV
3.76 | 15 ratings
Africa Speaks

SANTANA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.80 | 106 ratings
3.75 | 109 ratings
3.21 | 33 ratings
Sacred Fire (Live In South America)
3.93 | 47 ratings
Live At The Fillmore, 1968

SANTANA Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.18 | 11 ratings
Viva Santana!
4.26 | 16 ratings
Sacred Fire (Live in Mexico)
3.33 | 3 ratings
Down Under, Live Australia 1979
0.00 | 0 ratings
Every Tone Tells A Story
3.00 | 2 ratings
In Concert (Loreley Festival in Germany 1998)

SANTANA Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.80 | 29 ratings
Greatest Hits
3.58 | 19 ratings
Viva Santana!
4.33 | 3 ratings
Hits Of Santana
4.33 | 3 ratings
Santana (Collection)
4.00 | 9 ratings
Dance Of The Rainbow Serpent
3.67 | 3 ratings
Love Is You (A Love Song Collection)
4.00 | 12 ratings
The Ultimate Collection (2CD)
3.56 | 5 ratings
Black Magic Woman, The Best Of
0.00 | 0 ratings
Latin Spirit
3.00 | 2 ratings
The Best Of Santana (Eurotrend)
0.00 | 0 ratings
Roots Of A Living Legend
3.75 | 3 ratings
La Puesta Del Sol
3.05 | 3 ratings
Ceremony, Remixes and Rarities
0.00 | 0 ratings
33 Real Rock Standards (Santana & guitar friends)
3.13 | 4 ratings
Ultimate Santana
3.00 | 1 ratings
Greatest Hits (Steel Box Collection)
4.21 | 5 ratings
Origina Album Classics (Caravanserai...)
3.38 | 4 ratings
5.00 | 2 ratings
The Essential Santana

SANTANA Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 6 ratings
Evil Ways
3.00 | 4 ratings
Sampler from The Serpent
3.02 | 8 ratings
In Search of Mona Lisa


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Lotus by SANTANA album cover Live, 1975
3.80 | 106 ratings

Santana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Kashgar

2 stars With Santana at the peak of its mid-70s jazz-fusion direction, Lotus has to go down as an opportunity missed. First, the mixing of the album is terrible - it's as if the sound engineer decided that it was Carlos' show and the guitar would be the loudest instrument whatever else was going on. There are sections when Tom Coster is in inspired form on the electric piano but you can barely hear it owing to the over-loud guitar riffs. It's a similar story with the percussion, which needs to be up from on any Santana album. I would love to get my hands on the original source and remix this one. Second, performance wise, it's a mixed bag. With so much material, there is of course some good material played well: Incident at Neshabur is perhaps the highlight, although the version of Toussaint L'Overture isn't half bad (despite the need to dial the guitar back a notch). Other parts, however, sound laboured. Leon Thomas is barely used as a vocalist, which is a shame given some of the outwardly scat-singing he was capable with when performing as part of Pharoah Sanders' band - you just catch a bit of it on the penultimate track, Mr. Udo. Much of the interesting material from Caravanserai is left unused or - as in the case of Stone Flower - only partially performed. I can't help but wonder if the band never really mastered that material in its live format? So, all in all, disappointing given the possibilities that a post-Caravanserai live album could have delivered.
 Africa Speaks by SANTANA album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.76 | 15 ratings

Africa Speaks
Santana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

4 stars Carlos Santana promised a full album this year after he released his EP "In Search of Mona Lisa earlier this year. That EP acts as a preamble to his 25th studio album released in June of 2019 "Africa Speaks". Santana was asked by Rick Rubin, the album's producer, who he wanted to be involved on this album since several of his most recent albums had quite an array of guests, but he said he only wanted "?two women: Laura Mvula and Buika. And he said OK. So we called them and they said yes."

The album is also mostly inspired by music from Africa, much of it recorded in one take. Over the course of 10 days, 49 songs were recorded. A total of 11 were chosen and placed on the album with 2 more added as bonus tracks on the copies bought at Target. The regular album spans a total run time of over 64 minutes. The vocals on this album are mostly in African languages, English and Spanish.

Right from beginning with the title track "Africa Speaks", it is evident that this is different from many of his past albums, that it is definitely inspired from African musical influences mixed with the Latin/Rock flair of Santana. It starts with percussion from congas and such, a spoken word section and later sung vocals. The music starts building until it reaches the mid point and the regular beat takes over and Carlos' guitar comes in with the full band and a small chorus of vocalists singing together. Where the first track had a longer build up and started hesitantly, "Batonga" starts immediately with the percussion establishing a quick beat. The vocalists come in early with the percussion taking most of the supporting background only accompanied by bass. Eventually the guitar comes in along with more vocals as the echo each other on the melody and Carlos' begins to improvise off the main melody with a lot of support from the organ.

"Oye Este Mi Canto" takes things to a more mellow and jazzy feel, and Buika's vocals shining with a call and answer style with the background singers. After 2 minutes, the rhythm solidifies into a fusion style with driving percussion and guitar. Just before 4 minutes, it returns to the softer jazz style and more vocals. "Yo Me Lo Merezco" goes for a more solid rock feel with a heavy beat and a nice riff. Buika's distinctive vocals still work well with this track which is more rock oriented. Of course you get a solid solo from Carlos and the music speeds up introducing more percussion as his solo continues. This is the sound we all know and love from Santana. The guitar work is beautiful and expressive and as the tempo speeds faster as it nears the end, you really get into it.

"Blue Skies" is the longest track on the album at over 9 minutes. It starts off with atmospheric piano, bass and guitar. The rhythm starts off establishing a soft, moderately slow jazz feel with excellent vocal layers. Buika's delivery is just as strong in English and she delivers some demanding lyrics, some of them quite rapidly. The stripped down feel of the instruments continue as the vocal harmonies by the background singers are based on jazz chords giving this a nice texture. After 4 minutes, the music suddenly gets quite heavy as twin guitars come in and solid drums take over. Things calm down again before the 7 minute mark as the original jazz theme returns, but this time the vocals don't return as the guitar and piano play off of each other with soft percussion. Very nice!

"Paraisos Quemados" goes for a funky vibe with bass and strummed rhythm guitar and Carlos' improvised guitar on top. Staying with a more stripped down sound, the organ comes in later for support, things start to build and after 2 minutes, the vocals come in. The music continues in this fashion, threatening to let go, but remaining controlled as the guitar improvises over the pushing rhythm. "Breaking Down the Door" stars with a moderate beat, very Latin sounding, and accordion and brass join in. Vocals come in and the music takes on a more pop sound with a strong Latin flair, sounding like a party song and attempting to be a more arena style track. Nevertheless, it is fun and has an infectious groove. This would be perfect as a single since it is more radio friendly based around Latin Rock.

"Los Invisibles" goes for a solid beat and more funky sound, also possibly trying for radio play, but in Spanish this time. The bass line is quite catchy and the percussion is steady and danceable. It's a great, solid rock track. "Luna Hechicera" is a more moderate rhythm with rapid fire lyrics, strong bass and guitar flourishes. "Bembele" has a softer sound at first, leaning again towards a Latin-jazz feel. The rhythm becomes more pronounced with added drums and such, but everything stays at a soft boil. Carlos keeps the guitar reserved and soft in this very Brazilian style track. "Candombe Cumbele" has a moderate, but strong beat which is reminiscent of "Oye Como Va", but still a song of it's own. The track is driven heavily with percussive layers and a minimal organ riff with only occasional guitar flourishes.

The music is definitely Santana, but there is that nice African flair throughout that give it a unique sound. The music is still mostly Latin Rock based with a good dose of jazz fusion, moving percussion, excellent guitar solos and embellishments, but maybe a little less organ and keys, but they are there too. Buika's vocal fits well with the music and her voice is quite distinctive. There are moments that are in your face rockers, and others that are more stripped down, but I was also hoping for something more ballad-like, say "Moonflower" for example. But, there is a good amount of variety nonetheless, mostly in the first half of the album, which is the strongest half. The 2nd half is a bit more commercial, at least in Santana terms. However, at least the English lyrics are kept more minimal on this album with Spanish lyrics being the main language on this one, with occasional African lyrics, sorry, I don't know which country in Africa. The music is infectious like you expect from Santana, and there is a nice amount of jazz fusion in there too, reminding me more of their earliest music from the late 60s to early 70s. Although the album tends to lose its charm towards the end, with repeated listenings, I think that this problem will correct itself. I tend to find that is a personal issue with me when I am first getting familiar with a Santana album, only to find out later that I am not yet completely familiar with the songs. For now, I can easily give this a 4 star rating, but it is a very strong 4 star that I could bump up later. Fans of Santana's early albums should love this one.

 In Search of Mona Lisa by SANTANA album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2019
3.02 | 8 ratings

In Search of Mona Lisa
Santana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by admireArt
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Carlos Santana one of the remaning artists of the 60´s Woodstock festival is very much alive and well.

This 3 track EP (+ 2 edited for radio versions of its first 2 tracks) is as its title implies- In Search Of Mona Lisa (2019), a tribute to the painting which is the source of inspiration for Mr. Santana.

Anyway let me quick tour you through the music of this release, (if you care for the story behind the "making of", read the footnotes on the disc, I myself could not care less).

Do You Remember Me, its first track, is a slow burning evocative and tropical styled song which sets the mood for his love devotion for Mona. To expect something different in his music composition proposals, something he has not done since a long time ago, will be a useless request and he still is a hell of a guitar player and yet he does not abuse his prowess but this song could easily be lost in any tropical music jukebox, if not for the repeating like mantra of Mona Mona Lisa. ***

Track 2 - In Search Of Mona Lisa, is built on Rockier surface in a mid fast pace tempo. As expected composition wise nothing he has not done, on the positive side this song showcases his trademark guitar ability and sound while we get the story of his first encounter with Leonardo´s painting, but to my surprise this track is the weakest of the disc. **

This EP´s complete last track is Lovers From Another Time. A riskier proposal music composition wise, which actually adds symphonic elements and a piano to play alongside his counterpointing riffs and solos in his simplified Fusion/Rock mid tempo instrumental style and actually make it work by walking the thin line between corny ballad and heartfelt performance and coming up more or less untainted. Again to my surprise this one turn out to be the best track of this release. ***/*

3 PA´s stars.

 Caravanserai by SANTANA album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.23 | 694 ratings

Santana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Trevere

4 stars Taking musical nods from the likes of Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Mahavishnu Orchestra, Caravanserai is the final essential album in the extensive Santana discography and is vastly underrated in comparison to its predecessors. It served as a transitional record between the Latin influenced psychedelic prog rock of the first three records to a more ethereal jazz approach. These tracks provide a less distinct structure, trading the track by track presentation with a more cohesive and fuller body of work. With this change in sound also come a shift in Santana's lineup, as this album saw keyboard virtuoso Tom Coster make his first appearance. It would be the last album to feature second guitarist Neal Schon as well as Gregg Rolie who left the band to form Journey. Another part of what makes the elements of this album work so cohesively is the use of two bass players: Tom Rutley on acoustic, Doug Rauch on electric.

The sun drenched atmosphere featured on the cover perfectly conveys the mood of the music on Caravanserai. Each piece moves with the same urgency of prior records but showcases an affirmed appreciation for atmospheric vibe. Tribal drumming is accompanied brilliantly by the swirling organs of Gregg Rolie and adds a compelling layer to the mix. Frequently, this record showcases Carlos Santana doing exactly what he does best, laying down a groovy guitar line that drives the melody forward. Moreso than on previous albums however, he shows restraint, preferring not to dominate the tone of the album with his eccentric style of playing. On opener "Eternal Caravan of Reincarnation," he takes to playing percussion instead.

Caravanserai primarily invokes in the listener an audible journey through a primitive Arabian landscape. We get our first glimpse of the ambiance of the Arabian Desert with an opening of chirping crickets. The sun's rays begin to shine in the form of a lightly fluttering flute movement with chimes that cool the soul. 'Song of the Wind' is an instant standout that showcases Santana's unmatched guitar work. His soulful playing style melds perfectly with the serene textures of the rhythm section. 'All of the Love In the Universe' is conclusively spiritual'it begins with a pulsing bass line that eventually climaxes into an instrumental that boasts an immaculate solo from Carlos and as well as an unforgettable keyboard solo from Rolie's Hammond organ. 'Future Primitive' is a percussion centerpiece that allows the Latin roots of the album rise to the foreground for a few brief minutes of tribal beauty. Once the penultimate track, 'La Fuente Del Rimo' kicks in, we get glimpses of former Santana with chaotic conga beats, the occasional cymbal splash, and an outstanding keyboard solo from Tom Coster. We finally discover the oasis in the desert on the final track, 'Every Step of the Way,' in which a calm percussion intro steadily builds, with the Hammond and guitars giving way to an eventual crescendo that climaxes as we reach our destination.

It is a shame that Santana never revisited their jazzier side as seen on Caravanserai. This album feels the most organic out of all of their bodies of work. It is a sublime experience that takes the listener across desert vistas and on safari through the wild eastern plains. What is truly remarkable though is how well crafted this record is in respect to the work as a whole. Each member exerts every ounce of influence they have and it all works magically together to create a truly captivating and immensely satisfying experience.

 Santana IV by SANTANA album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.88 | 84 ratings

Santana IV
Santana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by TenYearsAfter

5 stars Recently I stumbled upon this 2-CD/1-DVD box, and got very exited when I read that the line-up on this 2016 'reunion concert' included not only master Carlos Santana but also 'teenage guitar prodigy' Neal Schon: once a Santana band member on the albums III and Caravanserai (shining on the track Every Step Of The Way) and later commercially very successful with 'Steve Perry Journey' (but I am delighted about his awesome and very disctintive guitar sound on Journey their eponymous album). The name Santana IV is based upon the fact that the Santana III line-up disbanded in 1971, and this 2016 Santana band features for the first time since 1971 five members from that era: Carlos Santana, Neal Schon, Gregg Rolie, Michael Shrieve and Mike Carabello, along Karl Perazzo (timbales in Santana since 1991), bass player Benny Rietveld (ex-Miles Davis), keyboardist David. Mathews (ex- Etta James Band) and guest singer Ronald Isley (from the Isley Brothers).

Listening to the two CD's I conclude that the 1967-1977 decade is unsurpassed: a lot of artistic freedom from the record companies, young full time musicians that were determined to make their own music, sharing fun and misery resulting in timeless compositions and becoming tight units due to the fact that they played so many gigs in those days. These two CD's contain top notch latin rock music featuring many of the Santana classics, performed very inspired and loaded with new ideas and extended soli. Just listen to Carlos Santana who let his guitar howl, scream, cry and thunder. To Gregg Rolie (one of the most underrated Hammond organ masters) with his omnipresent moaning and groaning B-3. And let's not forget the Santana trademark with Michael Carabello on congas and Karl Perazzo on timbales, what a thrill! This Santana IV line-up can compete with every current rock band in the world, what a skills, inspiration and ideas, they blow away the crowd, and the fans love it!

Guest singer Ronald Isley (Carlos Santana was determined to get him on stage) does a good job in the two tracks Love Makes The World Go Round and Freedom In Your Mind. And the new track Suenos (written by Carlos and Rietveld) is very pleasantly in the vein of Europe and Samba Pa Ti. The DVD includes the entire concert and contains a bonus interview with the band.

In the 20-page booklet also attention for The Milagro Foundation, founded by Carlos Santana and his family in 1998 to support vulnerable children around the world in several ways (like education, health and arts). Keep in mind that Carlos Santana was sexually abused by an American almost daily between his 10th and 12th (revealed in the Rolling Stone magazine in 2000, after getting in therapy in 1995, on recommendation by his wife).

Back to the music, for me this 2-CD/1-DVD box set is a very exciting musical experience, a masterpiece stage performance, loaded with unique and timeless compositions, you cannot beg for more so highly recommended!

 In Search of Mona Lisa by SANTANA album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2019
3.02 | 8 ratings

In Search of Mona Lisa
Santana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

3 stars For the first time in his long career, Carlos Santana finally releases his first official EP of new music early in 2019. The 3 new songs on this EP are inspired with his recent visit to the Louvre Museum in Paris where he had a personal encounter with the painting of the Mona Lisa where he felt she was talking to him about a past life where they were lovers. Some time later, he also had a dream about it, and then he set about to write music regarding this. The 3 songs on this EP are exclusive to the EP and there are currently no plans to include these songs on the upcoming new album that will be released possible later in 2019.

The EP begins with the 9+ minute track 'Do You Remember Me'. Starting out with just Santana's guitar playing the main melody with another strumming guitar in the background, the track starts out somewhat minimally. Shortly after 2 minutes, the full band kicks in and the guitar improvises around the melody getting a bit more exciting, especially with the signature mid-tempo Latin beat going on around it all. At 5:20, the chorus of 'Mona, Mona Lisa' followed up with Spanish vocals on the verses. At the 7:30 mark, you get improvised solo that you were expecting all along and then it returns to the lyrics shortly after. It's nice, but nothing really surprising going on here, just the great music you expect.

'In Search of Mona Lisa' tells the story of the encounter with Mona Lisa sung in English by Cornell CC Carter to a faster tempo this time and a soulful groove. You get the usual quick Santana licks between the lines of the song, again as you have heard before. The track has that usual popular sound of the Santana singles, with the usual guitar solo in the middle.

'Lovers From Another Time' starts off with an orchestral beginning before settling into a slower jazz ballad style. This one has some airy vocalizations going on, but the highlight is the Latin ballad playing of the guitar, along the lines of his solo ballads like 'Moonflower' but with a lot more orchestral accompaniment. Very nice.

The last two tracks are edited versions of 'Do You Remember Me' and 'In Search of Mona Lisa' cut down to just over 3 minutes each, because, you know, some people only want to hear part of a composition or only see a portion of the Mona Lisa. Anyway, it seems a bit silly to do the edited versions, but most people have short attention spans these days.

Anyway, it's a short EP, and there really isn't anything surprising here that you can't already hear on other Santana albums. The best track is the shortest. Santana fans and enthusiasts and completionists will have to have this, but other than that, there isn't much to get excited about here.

 Guitar Heaven by SANTANA album cover Studio Album, 2010
2.37 | 47 ratings

Guitar Heaven
Santana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by TenYearsAfter

4 stars Is this a Guitar Heaven, is this the right title? Yes, it is! That is my conclusion, both as a huge Carlos Santana fan and a guitar player myself.

The great thing on this album is that Santana has incorporated his very distinctive (but also very versatile) guitar sound in the 14 more or less classic guitar compositions. Of course he is known as a kind of Mr. Sustain but Santana can deliver both intense blues runs as biting wah wah pedal guitarplay. So that's why he took the challenge and succeeded 'cum laude' in my opinion. The 14 tracks sound fresh and dynamic and feature lots of inventive and surprising arrangements. A fine example are the cello and harpsichord during the intro of the blues classic While My Guitar Gently Weeps (George Harrison) and then wonderful tremolo play on the acoustic guitar.

A strong element on this CD is the wide range of male and female singers, all colouring the music in their own special way. Like Rob Thomas (known from the worldwide hit Smooth with Santana) in Sunshine Of Your Love (Cream). Or rapper Nas in Back In Black (AC/DC) and the 'living legend' Joe Cocker in Little Wing (Jimi Hendrix).

My favorite moments are the exciting version of Whole Lotta Love (Led Zeppelin), the beautiful interplay between a psychedelic sounding organ and fiery guitar in Riders On The Storm (The Doors) and awesome Hammond organ and wah wah pedal guitarwork in the catchy Smoke On The Water (Deep Purple). My 'DeLuxe Edition' contains two bonustracks and an interesting DVD featuring The Making Of Guitar Heaven and an interview with Carlos Santana. Another nice bonus is the inclusion of a hologram picture of the front cover.

This is a terrific album, check out Santana and guitar freaks and take a trip to Guitar Heaven!

 Inner Secrets by SANTANA album cover Studio Album, 1978
2.50 | 90 ratings

Inner Secrets
Santana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Yes, I should hate this album. For several reasons: it´s clearly commercial, it has many covers and it´s not exactly what you might expect from the "classic" Santana sound. Still, they did a marvelous job anyway. First: the covers are surprisingly good. I really didn´t know they were capable of doing such a work on songs like Dealer (Traffic), Well All Right (Buddy Holly, covered by Blind Faith), One Chain (Don´t Make No Prison) (Four Tops) and even the Classic IV 1968 famous top ten hit Stormy. I was completely taken by surprise of how singer Greg Walker could emulate Steve Winwood´s voice so faithfully. That is no small feat at all. But the band´s arrangements and performance are also spotless. Even the disco-ish One Chain works wonders, maybe because Santana familiarity with percussion and the fact the band´s music was always danceable. They could record a whole album of covers and it would still be very good.

But the originals are not bad either. Ok, they are not exactly classics, but for the time (1978, the year of punk and disco)) they were producing some really elaborated and melodic rock stuff. And they recorded a guitar led instrumental track to keep the tradition: Life is a Lady/Holiday is sure no Samba Pa ti, but then again, who was doing something like that in 1978? Wham is another fine instrumental track that closes the album. And I was glad they finally dropped their funk/soul attempts for good.

In the end I found Inner Secrets to be a really pleasant album. And far superior to a lot of what Santana delivered from the mid-eighties onward. With no concessions and no fillers, it was proof that they did not surrender to the fashion of the day (yet). Like the following Marathon, they were only moving on, trying to find their way in a difficult period for rock music in general. And they did that with good songs, elegance and style. I wish I could say the same about several prog acts of the period. 3,5 stars.

 Moonflower by SANTANA album cover Live, 1977
3.75 | 109 ratings

Santana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This is quite bizarre, really. A part live, part studio album double album: it should be one studio and one live album, shouldn´t it? Well, someone had the "great" idea of putting those tracks side by side and the results are annoying. The live songs are ok, I suppose, but at a different pace, they are much faster than the studio counterparts, which make the flow so uneven. And I can´t understand why, since Santana puts a great live show since the early days and still does so many years after they were formed. They deserved a "proper" live album by that time (Lotus did not count, since it was not available outside Japan until the early 90´s).

The studio tracks are good, and point a transitional period. They dropped much of the soul and funky influences of Amigos and Festival and clearly they were aiming for the Album Oriented Rock format that they would pursue during the late 70´s and early 80´s. The success of the cover song of the Zombies She´s Not There showed the way, and certainly helped to make this album a big hit (it went platinum, the first one to do so since Caravanserai in 1972). Even some of the new songs were written in that style (I`ll be Waiting), while others still maintain the earlier Santana sound (the instrumental Zulu). Even the brazilian connection was maintained through the obvious Bahia. The best track however, is another instrumental, Flor de Luna (Moonflower in spanish): this rumba-like tune is typical Santana guitar piece since Samba Pa Ti, where Carlos shows off his unique melodic style in great form. So simple, nothing new, and still so magical! El Morocco is another powerful number while the soul ballad Transcendance sounds like a leftover from Festival.

In all, Moonflower could have been a fine studio and a reasonable live album if the live and studio tracks were not interspersed one with another. As it is the CD is too uenven and does not make me fell like listening to it as a whole. A real shame. However, it does have some real good stuff here, so a 3 star rating is a fair one.

 Festivál by SANTANA album cover Studio Album, 1976
2.70 | 93 ratings

Santana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

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. Verão 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.

Thanks to Sean Trane for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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