SANTANA — Abraxas

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SANTANA - Abraxas cover
4.11 | 34 ratings | 6 reviews
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Album · 1970

Filed under Latin Rock/Soul


A1 Singing Winds, Crying Beasts 4:48
A2 Black Magic Woman / Gypsy Queen 5:17
A3 Oye Como Va 4:17
A4 Incident At Neshabur 4:58
B1 Se A Cabo 2:49
B2 Mother's Daughter 4:25
B3 Samba Pa Ti 4:46
B4 Hope You're Feeling Better 4:10
B5 El Nicoya 1:29


- David Brown /Bass
- Michael Shrieve /Drums
- Carlos Santana /Guitar, Vocals
- Gregg Rolie /Keyboards, Vocals
- Rico Reyes / Percussion
- Mike Carabello /Percussion, Congas
- José Chepitó Areas /Percussion, Congas, Timbales
- Alberto Gianquinto /Piano

About this release

Columbia – KC 30130 (US)

Recorded at Wally Heider Recording Studio, San Francisco

Thanks to snobb for the updates


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"Abraxas" pretty much leaves a great debut for dead, as Santana deliver a classic follow-up.

I imagine it's hard for a reader's eyes not to glaze over at the word 'classic' but the album is a classic; it's aged well, it was an artistic and commercial success at its time, it developed a genre and cemented the careers of many musicians. And last but not least, it's perfect music for summer, just play it on a hot day with your windows down and see. (And it has great sleeve art too, provided by the late Mati Klarwein who was, of course, also well-known for the "Bitches Brew" cover.)

To the music within. Jazz really starts to creep in to the songs on this album, with more adventurous arrangements and that undeniable Latin-sound getting expanded via fuller percussion, additional overdubs and a warm production. Santana's guitar tone and style is still psych-influenced but he's also subtler and more relaxed perhaps, despite the pressure on the band to capitalise on the success of Woodstock and "Santana". Lead singer and organist Rolie remembers it being less than easy: "for me it was the complete opposite. It was like: okay, now we really got to prove we can really do this. We had three years to develop all that music [from the first album]. And we had to do the next one WITHIN a year."

Well something clicked and they produced the goods. There isn't a dull moment on "Abraxas" even if 'Mother's Daughter' doesn't match the rest of the material. Shrieve is as vital to the sound as Rolie's B3 but the real highpoint is the compositions. Aided by a smooth version of Puente's 'Oye Como Va' and a fantastic reworking of Fleetwood Mac's 'Black Magic Woman' the band scored two hits, weaving their undeniable pop appeal around jazzier outings.

One of which - 'Incident at Neshabur' - being a song that shifts between moods and tempos and allows Santana to wring notes from his guitar with almost the same intensity he manages in 'Samba Pa Ti.' In this piece he starts out gentle and the whole band allow the song to build slowly, creating a near five minute summation of everything enjoyable about Carlos' at his most thoughtful. Other songs like 'Se a Cabo' continue the Latin theme complete with a little chanting in Spanish, while the third single released from "Abraxas" 'Hope You're Feeling Better' brings the biggest rock moments on the album, wah adding to a great signature riff.

This one's a record that makes you want to hear more, and one that was vital to the band's future, both in terms of creative direction and success. Four stars.
The dreaded sophomore jinx did not bother to screw with Santana. It didn't even glance in their direction. If anyone thought that their debut was some kind of fluke novelty they were sadly mistaken for "Abraxas" went on to sell over 4 million units and hold the number one position on the album charts for six weeks. While still wise enough to know the importance and necessity of producing hit singles, this time they started to show signs that they were interested in adding a jazz element to their spicy mix of styles. The mysterious melding of wind chimes, piano and guitar is a great way to build tension and expectations and conga player Mike Carabello's "Singing Winds, Crying Beasts" does just that. Greg Rolie's tastefully understated Rhodes piano chording is perfect for the atmospheric mood they create on this instrumental. Someone obviously did their homework and realized that Peter Green (of Fleetwood Mac) had a catchy song that was just waiting for someone to cover and have a huge hit with. "Black Magic Woman" has such an easy-flowing, danceable rhythm and Carlos Santana's supremely melodic guitar lines make the tune irresistible. The spectacular and genius transition into double- time for Gabor Szabo's "Gypsy Queen" just makes it that much more exciting. Next you get Tito Puente's infectious "Oye Como Va" with dynamic percussion, fluid Hammond organ and stinging guitar creating some very hot salsa. As a single it climbed to #13 and is an extremely rare instance where a song not sung in English was a hit in the USA. (I don't think it would have made any difference if it had been sung in Swahili, to be honest.) "Incident at Neshabur" shows you that Santana's future would find them exploring deeper and deeper into jazz/rock fusion. After a jazzy beginning it segues into a heavy rock riff and then blends the two into a high spirited movement where Rolie's organ work shines. Halfway through it drops into a peaceful spell with Carlos using controlled feedback on his guitar to great effect before guest musician Alberto Gianquinto (who co-wrote the song with Mr. Santana) adds some eloquent piano. It's the high point of the album for me. Percussionist Chepito Areas' "Se A Cabo" sounds like it starts up where "Soul Sacrifice" left off on the first album. The guitar is great but the individual performances on congas and timbales are out of this world. The band still had a foot in the rock and roll arena, however, and Greg Rolie's "Mother's Daughter" and "Hope You're Feeling Better" are both decent rockers and he sings them well but they sound slightly out of place here. Another gem on this album is Carlos' "Samba Pa Ti," a gorgeous instrumental where he allows his guitar to sing a delicate melody over some soulful Hammond organ, creating as fine a love song as you'll ever hear. Even after the pace picks up the guitar soars like an eagle to the end. It's an inspiring piece of music. Chepito Areas contributes the final tune, "El Nicoya," where he, drummer Michael Shrieve and Mike Carabello put on a percussion clinic that will tear your head off.

In addition to all this great music add a stunning album cover and you have an instant classic on your hands. While their exciting and legendary debut seemed a little raw, "Abraxas" showed they desired to make a more deliberate and well-crafted attempt to create a work of art. It's not perfect by any means but Santana was still in the process of finding their niche in the music world while turning it upside down in the process. All in all it's just a damn good album.

Members reviews

siLLy puPPy
Continuing the huge success generated by their debut album and their instant stardom generated by the Woodstock Festival in August 69, SANTANA released their 2nd album ABRAXAS the following year pretty much following the same formula of mixing rock, blues and latin jazz.

The album was an even bigger hit than the debut hitting number 1 on the Billboard album charts and selling more than twice as many albums as well as hitting big with the huge hits "Oye Como Va" and the cover of Fleetwood Mac founder Peter Green's "Black Magic Woman." SANTANA was a worldwide phenomenon by now and their unique Latin big band sound was one of the hottest things going on at the time. As with the previous album there is an army of percussionists accompanying Carlos Santana's bluesy lead guitar and Gregg Rollie's keyboards.

Although this is a great album I have always liked it a tad less than the debut. It is lacking that incessant raw and fervent drive throughout its entirety that made the first album so amazing. The songs are more varied in their approach and the music is generally the same in its sound, yet something about this album just seems like a tamed down version of the debut as a whole. Whereas the debut was a energetic display of adrenaline from beginning to end, I find this one is dragged down a tad with slower numbers like the instrumental "Samba Pa Ti."

Nothing on here is bad by any means and it's only a relativity issue for me. It also hasn't helped that I have heard the hit singles on this album to death! Even after giving classic rock radio a break for many years, I still find "Black Magic Woman" a song I no longer like to hear. Make no doubt about it, it is a classic of classics but some music can become toxic after too many listens and this i'm afraid is one of those tracks that I haven't been able to recover from. Despite that an outstanding album that just doesn't reach perfection in my world.
The second Santana album is the legendary classic "Abraxas". They are all great tracks and really feature heavily the stabbing overpowering Hammond. This is Santana at their proggiest best. The first Santana experience for me was the Woodstock 'Soul Sacrifice' performance with that wonderful guitar lick and the amazing drum solo.

After than I had heard 'Black Magic Woman', a classic with soulful vocals and played with virtuoso musicianship. This is a wonderful album, opening with congas and bongo drums and electric piano jamming on 'Singing Winds, Crying Beasts'. I love the atmospheres with the chimes and cymbal splashes. The jazzy grooves and lead guitar at the hand of the mighty Carlos on 'Black Magic Woman / Gypsy Queen' are hard to top. In fact the rest of the album battles to do so.

It is hard not to lock into the cool tribal grooves of 'Oye Como Va' or 'Se a Cobo'; Carlos is scintillating on lead guitar. The formula is set in stone on this album, and it is a constant with tracks such as 'Incident At Neshabur'. Gregg Rolie's keyboard work is exceptional, surely one of the all time greatest keyboardists. The fast tempos that lock in are infectious, capturing the trademark Santana atmosphere perfectly on 'Mother's Daughter', and the wonderful 'Samba Pa Ti' that graces many Santana compilations.

The lurid cover artwork may distract, and make it difficult to bounce the eyeballs away, but if you close your eyes and just drift off to this mesmirising music, Santana can really move the listener, with the extended jamming of Carlos and Rolie that are simply unsurpassed. Everything Santana did in the 70s is spine tingling and unforgettable jazz fusion music.
The formula from their debut was brought to perfection on its follow-up, "Abraxas". There is simply not a weak moment on this album. "Black Magic Woman" (much better than the original of Peter Green), "Oye Como Va", "Samba Pa Ti", "Se a Cabo" and "Incident at Neshabur" helped practically invent the whole new "Santana" Latino-rock music genre. Yes, it was and still is highly popular and commercial, but that cannot diminish the fact that the music provided here was very original, inventive, emotional and played with confident and heart. And even more important, it passed the test of time. "Abraxas" belongs to a handful of the best rock albums of the era that jazz listeners should appreciate.
With this album Carlos Santana made sure that in the froth of inter-genre experimentation on the rock scene at the time - with jazz, folk, blues and other genres mingling in - that Latin rhythms and styles would not be brushed under the carpet. Mingling blistering psych-fusion with Latin-influenced arrangements with songs like his excellent cover of Fleetwood Mac's Black Magic Woman (which I firmly believe is better than the original), Santana's second album exploded onto a scene eager to hear new sounds and delivered precisely that. The compositions do tend to blend together after a while, and whilst it's always at a high standard there are few truly set-your-hair-on-edge *wonderful* moments, but there's no question that this is a great album which came out at precisely the right time to ensure it was a major commercial success as opposed to sinking like a stone.

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