CARLOS SANTANA — Love Devotion Surrender (with John McLaughlin) (review)

CARLOS SANTANA — Love Devotion Surrender (with  John McLaughlin) album cover Album · 1973 · Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
dreadpirateroberts
Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin team up to channel something of Coltrane’s spirit.

‘Love Devotion Surrender’ is, unsurprisingly, a maelstrom of guitar work. Both leaders bring parts of their respective bands to the sessions, unleashing a powerful set of songs that are either Coltrane interpretations (‘Niama’ and Pt 1: Acknowledgement, retitled ‘A Love Supreme’ here) or attempts to incorporate some of his approach to music. It’s a restless album but is hardly disappointing.

The explosion of guitar heard throughout the record is held together by Cobham and Shrieve (among others) on drums and Rauch on bass, and who do the admirable job of speeding up matra-like rhythms and keeping the two guitarists grounded. The twin attack and interplay of guitarists is (mostly) highly effective, though it doesn’t really let up except for a few moments, such as the acoustic guitar of ‘Niama’ or the acoustic piano in McLaughlin contribution ‘Meditation.’

These short moments of peace are not indicative of the whole album. Opener ‘A Love Supreme’ and ‘The Life Divine’ are almost frantic. Even the traditional song ‘Let Us Go Into the House of the Lord’ roars along, though it begins to sound tired before it’s fifteen minutes are up, coming as it does, on the heels of the stunning ‘The Life Divine’ a piece much more varied and satisfying. Organist Larry Young shines, as do the drumming duo, propelling the guitarists to new heights. Here especially, Santana is impressive, providing his usual sustain-soul, whereas McLaughlin supplies more flash and aggression, not only during this, his second composition on the record, but across the whole album.

Pushing deeper into jazz-rock fusion than ‘Caravanserai,’ this album must have shattered the hopes of those Santana fans who were clinging to the slim hope of another hit single in 1973. Instead, it will delight fans of either guitarist and should be of interest to those looking into jazz-rock fusion. Four stars.
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