SANTANA — Santana III (review)

SANTANA — Santana III album cover Album · 1971 · Latin Rock/Soul Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
dreadpirateroberts
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.
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