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SANTANA - Santana III cover
4.02 | 28 ratings | 5 reviews
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Album · 1971

Filed under Latin Rock/Soul


A1 Batuka 3:35
A2 No One To Depend On 5:25
A3 Taboo 5:40
A4 Toussaint L'Overture 5:54
B1 Everybody's Everything 3:30
B2 Guajira 5:50
B3 Jungle Strut 5:19
B4 Everything's Coming Our Way 3:19
B5 Para Los Rumberos 2:44

Total Time: 41:18


- Coke Escovedo /Backing Vocals, Percussion
- David Brown /Bass Guitar
- Jose Chepito Areas /Congas, Percussion, Timbales, Vocals, Drums, Flugelhorn
- Michael P. R. Carabello /Congas, Vocals, Percussion, Tambourine
- Michael Shrieve /Drums, Percussion, Vibraphone
- Neal Schon /Guitar
- Carlos Santana /Guitar, Vocals
- Gregg Rolie /Piano, Organ, Vocals

About this release

Columbia – KC 30595 (US)

Recorded at Columbia Studios, San Francisco

Thanks to snobb for the updates


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Santana score yet again.

Their first three releases show a band forging ahead in leaps (not bounds, but leaps) and here on their second self-titled release and third overall, they show a significant shift away from their old sound, more than suggesting the future albums where they'd integrate jazz yet further.

The introduction of Neal Schon on guitar is significant here, not only in filling out their sound, but in allowing Carlos to focus more on creating his lead guitar parts and perhaps also helping give the entire band time to introduce longer and more varied structures to their songs.

Take the explosive 'Toussaint L'Overture' for instance, which on a previous album, may have been more of an interlude instrumental, but here it's expanded into a showpiece for guitar and organ solos, complete with shifting moods and excellent use of dynamics. Pieces like 'Jungle Strut' and the opener 'Batuka' are similar in nature and are probably most indicative of where the band would head on future releases.

Other shifts have occurred too, the vocal lines on single 'No-One to Depend On' or 'Taboo' (both outstanding pieces) now rely less on blues phrasing. Later on in the running order, in two wonderful singles, inspiration is drawn again from the pop field - once where the Tower of Power horn section join them on 'Everybody's Everything' and also on the wonderful 'Everything's Coming Our Way' - which is probably their greatest execution of a pop song, with tasteful performances all round and even a affecting vocal from Carlos.

'Guajira' is probably the most 'Latin' or samba sounding track on the album, no doubt in part due to two great feature guest-performances, Rico Reyes on lead vocal and Mario Ochoa on piano, both making follow-up appearances after their credits for 'Abraxas' (Oye Como Va & Incident At Neshabur.)

Overall, the horns are used to great effect on this album and the vocal performances are consistently better. Of course, the rhythms are up to their usual fine standard - but the focus is still on guitar, in a way that would be fully explored in the follow up. Another four star album from Santana.
On this, Santana's third studio album in as many years since they wowed the Woodstock nation, I get the impression that they were a fairly happy, uncommonly stable and reasonably satisfied band comfortable in their own skin. They were so universally accepted by the masses and so genuinely well-liked by millions that I honestly can't blame them for taking an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" attitude when it came time to laying down the tracks for this release. In most cases a safe, unadventurous and conservative approach results in an album that's far too predictable and sorely lacking in passion but I can't argue with what my ears confirm to my heart when listening to Santana III. They still had fire in their bellies. They were surfing atop the crest of immense popularity in '71 and, whereas other successful groups running around in their loafers were exhausted/burned out by the demands of near-constant touring, these hardy gauchos were still basking in their primeness, generating enough energy night after night to electrify a metropolis and playing with verve as if their lives depended on it. What made Santana so special and jazz site-worthy? They possessed the rare commodity of owning a sound so unique yet so accessible that they created a singular niche they didn't have to share with any other band. They were a one-of-a-kind musical hybrid that had a whole genre of music all to themselves. That's why their first trio of albums comprise such a consistent set. They stuck to their pistoleros, not due to their record label coercing them to churn out more of the same profitable shtick (although I have little doubt the suits at Columbia were thrilled about everything they produced turning to platinum), but because Santana knew who they were and what they were all about. They had a sort of "I know what I like and I like what I know" kinda thing going on that managed to please both the Top 40- addicted general populace and the more critical jazz/rock fusion mob that refused to settle for plain vanilla flowing through their headphones. Not an easy mountain to climb for even one album, much less three in a row. Yet as much as I admire this collection of songs I'm extremely glad (as the whole jazzy world should be) that they took off in a revolutionary and fearlessly exploratory direction on the next one. But let's concentrate our focus on Santana III, shall we?

A rhythmic blend of percussion and drums sets the spicy tone for the instrumental opener, "Batuka," and Carlos' aggressive guitar riff announces without apology that they haven't lost their edge. His solo is ferocious and Gregg Rolie's screaming Hammond organ snarls like an agitated pit bull and then they abruptly shut it down as if the police had arrived in response to a disturbing the peace complaint from the neighbors. No harm done, though, as the classic "No One to Depend On" follows right on its heels. It has one of their great slight-of-hand intros that keeps you guessing where they're going to go right up until the moment Michael Carabello's congas and Jose Chepito Areas' timbales grab you by the collarbone and pull you into the tune's irresistible groove. Carabello and newcomer Coke Escovedo co-wrote this catchy number featuring ensemble vocals that make it impossible to resist singing right along. It includes clever rests and accents to delight in as you make your way through the verses and the inspired middle section erects an unexpectedly large platform for the band's then 17-year-old newbie Neal Schon to introduce himself to their fans via a fierce, ripping guitar ride that still threatens to crackle your speakers to this day. Once that major revelation concludes their exemplary posse of percussionists guides the song back to its original feel with nary a glitch, paving the way for one of my favorite one-second-in-duration guitar licks (the one right after the last "I ain't got nobody") and an unforgettable, band-in-a-canyon ending. I still crank the volume when this one comes on the radio even after all these years of hearing it.

Rolie and Areas teamed up to pen "Taboo" but, despite a grandiose onset, it promises more than it can deliver because the tune is too anemic and weak to stand on its own. It marks the low point of the album. Its saving grace, however, is what the group does with the arrangement when the vocal ceases to bore and the instruments take over, especially Mr. Santana's sublime guitar. "Toussaint L'Overture" comes galloping in like the cavalry to rescue the proceedings. Though it's hardly more than an organized jam based on a frequently-borrowed descending chord progression, in this group's hands such fare sizzles like fatty bacon on a spit. Gregg knocks out another hot Hammond solo and Carlos' guitar lead doesn't disappoint but it's the fiery percussion roiling underneath the Latino chanting that really gets my heart a pumpin'. The second half of this cut has Schon, Santana and Rolie duking it out like they're caught up in a last-hombre-standing street fight all the way to the stop-on-a-dime ending.

I've always been fond of songs that help encourage and motivate me to get off my duff and take on the planet, especially in the morning, and few can do that as efficiently as "Everybody's Everything." (Another is the blistering live version of "Can't Turn You Loose" by Edgar Winter's White Trash from their '72 album, "Roadwork." Better than caffeine.) Wisely employing the prestigious Tower of Power horns to accentuate the positive, this tune streaks by like an express train on a downhill slope. Okay, it ain't real complicated but it's a terrific way to spend three and a half minutes while getting dressed. Gregg's roaring Hammond and Neal's flaming guitar lines shine brightly but it's the triad of Carabello, Areas and Escovedo that fuel this furnace all the way to the fade out. "Guajira" is next and it's a south of the border rock & roll samba that'll make even the palest Caucasian want to dance (think "Smooth" 28 years before its time). The cool break that precedes guest Mario Ochoa's playful piano solo gets me every time, Jose's trumpet spasm paints a fine change of aural scenery and both guitarists perform magnificently.

They then hit the road in an all-out sprint again with "Jungle Strut," a fast-paced jam peppered with hot licks emanating from most everyone in the group. This one's an ideal example of Santana doing what comes naturally to them and I can't help but notice the Allman Brothers-ish dual harmony guitar lines that provide the melody. (Those Dixie roosters influenced everybody in their heyday, it would seem.) Carlos' amateurish "Everything's Coming Our Way" retards the momentum slightly but, as usual, the boys behind him make the most of what they have to work with and Rolie's room-filling Hammond organ in particular keeps it from becoming a yawn-inducer. They serve up Tito Puente's "Para Los Rumberos" for the finale and it's another smokin' track generously ladled over a Spanish en masse chorale that takes no prisoners. Another talented guest, Luis Gasca, wields a sharp Trompeta in the middle that's suitably wild and arresting. And there you have it.

The only virtuoso that doesn't get an opportunity to show off on this album is their phenomenal young drummer Michael Shrieve but that's the only oversight on Santana 3 I can find (other than the two aforementioned puny compositions). This was also the last go- round for founding members Carabello and bassist David Brown (rumor has it they were overindulging in Peruvian marching powder) and if they'd broken up at this juncture their legacy would still live on forever courtesy of classic rock radio. However, they not only survived but, after delivering three chart-topping and highly commercial LPs (in terms of sales, at least), they were courageous enough to completely abandon their comfort zone and give birth to a fusion landmark, "Caravanserai," thus securing for their ensemble a sacred place in the jazz/rock hall of fame for all time to come. The material found on Santana III ranks well above the average, no doubt, but what they were about to accomplish with their upcoming masterpiece still staggers my senses. It's my belief that every jazz enthusiast worth his/her salt should have all four of this group's initial studio albums in their collection because high-quality, exploratory-minded music never goes out of style.

Members reviews

“Santana 3”, the 3rd excellent album in a row for the band, has some rather heavy rhythms and riffs as the band explore heavier territory. The opener ‘Batuka’ is much more heavily reliant on a riff, and a killer one at that, as Carlos is then given freedom to unleash a flurry of notes on his lead guitar. The singing comes in on ‘No One To Depend On’ and sounds appropriate after that incredible intro. The lead guitar holds back but latches onto a cool laid back melody.

The real Santana sound of shimmering Hammond, frantic bongos and guitar poetry is heard on ‘Taboo’. The voice is as always laid back and soulful, with the kind of sound and structure as ‘Black Magic Woman’; the winning formula for the band. Frenetic tribal percussion and blistering guitar runs drive ‘Toussaint l' Overture’, and I love that Hammond sound from Rolie, one of the best keyboardists. This one is a freakout of manic instrumental intensity, the way the band loved to unleash its power on these 70s albums. When the vocals come in they have a Latin flavour.

‘Everybody's Everything’ is a short blast with a lot of swinging brass and a soul man style vocalist, and a terrific Hammond break. ‘Guajira’ has a laid back feel, nice vox, measured Samba rhythm, and cool guitars. ‘Jungle Strut’ has the type of feel in the intro that would follow with the excellent “Caravanserai” album. this locks into a wild rhythmic percussion and some bluesy lead guitar licks; Carlos at his best. The song ‘Everything’s Coming Our Way’ is too commercial for my tastes but ‘Para Los Rumberos’ closes with a great jazzy brass and Latino percussion explosion.

Overall this is not as great as the debut or “Abraxas” but still rocks with a ton of keyboard and guitar brilliance. I am not a fan of the vocal treatment on this but the musicianship is incredible, and proves the band were a force to be reckoned with. Pioneers, legends, virtuosos, and this is another milestone album of Latin rock. “Caravanserai” would completely blow this album away for infamy in music history, and with 4 albums in a row that are still loved and treasured today, Santana were untouchable in the early 70s.
This was another great album by Santana, although I prefer "Abraxas"! The third album maybe did not surpass the previous one in terms of originality, but it came close. Without obvious hits (only "Everything's Coming Our Way" enjoyed chart success, and it is probably the least good song here), the band continues to explore the experimental mix between rock, Latin and jazz. "Everybody's Everything" introduces some funky brass, which sounds pretty refreshing, if you ask me. All other tracks are perfect, even if originality is perhaps traded for the "safe area" approach towards arrangements and immaculate instrumentation. A highly recommended record.
After this album, lineup changes and a shift in direction towards a more fusion-oriented sound would mean this is the last album by the group to feature the blues- and Latin-tinged psych of Abraxas. But what an album! All the potential of the previous two albums comes together here to yield a rich and endlessly rewarding collection of tracks. Santana's guitar work is, of course, legendary, and on this album he's on fine form once again, and the rest of the band play their hearts out to match him. The single, No One to Depend On, you've probably heard before, but the full-length jam in the album is truly the classic rendition of the song - and believe it or not, the rest of the album is even better. An emotive, occasionally spacey masterpiece.

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