SANTANA — Welcome (review)

SANTANA — Welcome album cover Album · 1973 · Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
Sean Trane
After the incredibly succesful Caranserai and heavenly collab with fellow Sri Chimnoy adept John McLaughlin, Carlos Devadip saw his group starting to fizzle out: Greg Rommie and Neil Schon had left (they will later found Journey as a jazz-rock group that will veer towards the execrable AOR group during the 80’s) and Carlos went towards jazz singer Leon Thomas (Basie and Pharoah Sanders vocalist) and a duo of keyboardist Kermode and the long-lasting Tom Coster.

While the opening Going Home is an impressive instrumental, it is not that succesful due to a wrong choice of synth, cheapening the overall ambiance. Leon Thomas’ voice (coupled with XXX in a duet) is doing nothing to restore the weak Surrender track or the downright half-mediocre When I Look Into Your Eyes, with its unexpected second funky part that compensate a bit. The only track to actually equal Caranvanserai on the first side is the instrumental Samba De Sausalito (a San Fran hippie suburb), which does bring some of the magic back.

The second side does start a bit more interestingly with the Mother Africa, with an inhabitual Santana feeling. The album is saved by the tremendous Flame Sky (everything indicates this was a leftover from Caravanserai including its title and the predecessor’s artwork): this 11-min+ corker is a real gem that seems so out of place on this album, even if by the energy level not present elsewhere on this album. The closer is also a worthy track and announces Carlos’ next solo venture with Coltrane’s wife Alice. Welcome is one of those reflective John Coltrane written when the great jazzman was at peace with himself. Coster makes a credible McCoy Tyner impression. While the track is slightly too sweet, it does represent well the spiorit of the album. The remastered version of this album is coming with a lengthy bonus track, the excellent, dreamy but rather out-of-place 6-min Mantra.



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