Friday, November 23, 2012

150 Santana. Santana?

Album: Santana
Artist: Santana
Genre: Latin Rock
Year: 1969


  1. Waiting
  2. Evil Ways
  3. Shades of Time
  4. Savor
  5. Jingo
  6. Persuasion
  7. Treat
  8. You Just Don't Care
  9. Soul Sacrifice

Personally I don't think Rock really needs anything added to make it great. Rock is good. Rock is pure. Rock is all rock needs to rock. Adding things to the mix is usually unnecessary dilution in my view. Jazz Rock is always worse than rock and worse than Jazz. Rap Rock is just a lot more rhyming than any good rock needs and pop rock is just indecision with synthesizers.

But latin rock is interesting. Latin rock definitely adds something to mix. Latin rhythms backing a solid guitar based band creates a whole new thing which is really fun. Of course it helps if you have some real talent in the band somewhere and Carlos Santana is a real talent. He can definitely play that thing and his guitar work is the highlight of his first album. He's flinging out riffs and magnificent solos in all directions and lending some soulful blues and some fiery rock to every single track. 

Carlos might be the only member of the band that anyone can name but keyboard player but Gregg Rolie  more than emerges from his bandleader's shadow. Rolie plays some great stuff here and plays some great solos and also lays down some fantastic interaction with Santana especially on the blinding Soul Sacrifice which also features some brilliant percussion interplay between a regular drumkit and some congas and timbales (which I've always wrongly assumed were a kind of food). 

There's a lot of nifty instrumental stuff going on here and while the vocals are mostly unnecessary there's a cover of Evil Ways which is a catchy gem. 

You may have worked out I really like this album and I do, but not as much as I like the numerous live releases that have come out since it appeared. We've now got access to Santana's full Woodstock performance and you can see why it made their reputation. They're definitely a live band who enjoy the ability to stretch out in front of an appreciative audience rather than have to confine themselves to the studio. Everything they do here they do better onstage and while this album was a huge hit at the time if the Woodstock performance was released days after the event it would be here instead of this, and probably considerably higher. 

It would be great to say that Santana went from strength to strength but sadly there were only two more albums from this line up before everyone parted ways. Santana continued as Carlos's backing band with different musicians but never approached these heights again. 

Latin rock is definitely worth your time and this is great stuff but if you can get your hands on the Woodstock show then give that a listen instead.

Highlight: Soul Sacrifice
Lowlight: You just don't care

Influenced by: Rock and crazy latin rhythms
Influenced: Los Lobos

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "Doesn't seem to compare with the 33 rpm vinyl record version! "Soul Sacrifice" doesn't sound as exciting!"

-That's an interesting criticism. Has the album transfered badly or has age changed the perception?

So is this something you'd sacrifice your soul for or not? Let me know below

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