Friday, May 25, 2012

205 Abraxas- Santana!



Album: Abraxas
Artist: Santana
Genre: Latin rock
Year: 1970

Tracks
  1. Singing Winds, Crying Beasts 
  2. Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen
  3. Oye Como Va
  4. Incident at Neshabur 
  5. Se a Cabo
  6. Mother's Daughter
  7. Samba Pa Ti
  8. Hope You're Feeling Better
  9. El Nicoya  

For a long time all I really knew about Santana was that Alexei Sayle didn't like them. I grew up on The Young Ones and Sayle's stand up rants had a big impact on me. There's one especially angry and shouty bit I can recall vividly in which he rails against modern music. Dire straits come in for a particular serve but permanently etched in my mind is the bitter and vitriolic way he says "Santana!" as if even the band's name is enough to cause him extreme physical comfort. For years whenever anyone mentioned Santana I couldn't help but shout "Santana!" in a derisory way which made me look like a strange shouty git. I had no idea what it was about a mere band that so riled Alexei but having heard Abraxas I think I can guess. It is kind of boring.

Guitarist Carlos Santana tried to meld blues with latin influences, producing a revolutionary sounding, up-beat rock concert experience with funky percussion and scorching guitar solos. It was a totally unique sound which could light up a stage and generate extended jams which delighted audiences throughout America. But in the confines of a studio it all falls a bit flat. Like a lot of the great bands of the late sixties, Santana lost a lot of their live sparkle in the studio where they were forced to surrender their sense of experimentation in favour of abbreviation and accessibility.

Abraxas is more a taste of what could be that any form of greatness in itself, it's clear that Carlos Santana can play and the band can really cook but you can sense them holding things in reserve in order to make sure tracks come in at an acceptable length. It certainly doesn't deserve Aleixi's derision but now that their full Woodstock set, and other live albums, are available I wonder who listens to this anymore for any reason than nostalgia for a time when this was the only chance to hear someone inserting latin grooves into rock and roll.

Highlight: Black Magic Woman (but the original is better)
Lowlight: Singing Winds, Crying Beasts

Influenced by: The blues and latin music
Influenced: Los Lobos

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "This dosn't have Rob Thomas on it and in fact it dosn't even sound like Santara to me."

-Poor Santana. He slaved away for years playing music but to a generation he will be known only as the sideman for the former singer of Matchbox 20.

So do you love Santana or are you at a Carlos to know why anyone does? Let me know below.

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