SANTANA — Caravanserai

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SANTANA - Caravanserai cover
4.57 | 46 ratings | 9 reviews
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Album · 1972

Filed under Latin Rock/Soul


A1.Eternal Caravan Of Reincarnation (4:25)
A2.Waves Within (3:54)
A3.Look Up (To See What's Coming Down) (2:55)
A4.Just In Time To See The Sun (2:13)
A5.Song Of The Wind (6:03)
A6.All The Love Of The Universe (7:39)
B1.Future Primitive (4:20)
B2.Stone Flower (6:05)
B3.La Fuente Del Ritmo (4:30)
B4.Every Step Of The Way (9:06)


- Douglas Rauch /Bass (tracks: A2 to A6)
- Armando Peraza /Bongos (tracks: B3)
- Jose Chepito Areas/Bongos (tracks: B2)
- James Mingo Lewis /Bongos (tracks: B1)
- Lenny White /Castanets (tracks: A6)
- Jose Chepito Areas /Congas (tracks: B1)
- James Mingo Lewis /Congas (tracks: A2, A4 to B4)
- Mike Shrieve /Drums (tracks: A1 to A6, B2 to B4)
- Tom Coster /Electric Piano (tracks: B3)
- Douglas Rauch /Guitar (tracks: A2, A3)
- Douglas Rodrigues /Guitar (tracks: A2)
- Neal Schon /Guitar (tracks: A1, A3 to A6, B2 to B4)
- Carlos Santana /Lead Guitar (tracks: A2 to A4, A6, B2 to B4),Percussion (tracks: A1, A5, B2)
- Gregg Rolie /Organ (tracks: A2 to A6, B2 to B4)
- Armando Peraza /Percussion (tracks: B2)
- James Mingo Lewis/Percussion (tracks: A1, B2, B3)
- Gregg Rolie /Piano (tracks: A6)
- Wendy Haas /Piano (tracks: A1, B2)
- James Mingo Lewis /Piano [Acoustic] (tracks: B3)
- Jose Chepito Areas /Timbales (tracks: A2 to A4, A6, B1, B3, B4)
- Carlos Santana /Vocals (tracks: A6)
- James Mingo Lewis /Vocals (tracks: A6)
- Rico Reyes /Vocals (tracks: A6)

About this release

Columbia – KC 31610 (US)

Thanks to snobb, EZ Money, js for the updates


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On the first day of class once, the professor handed out comic books at the beginning of class. I got a Carlos Santana "Rock'n' Comix" by random chance. It was great, a life spanning bio work of art. According to the comic, following Santana III Carlos began feeling his spirit wander due to his rock 'n roll lifestyle, and A Love Supreme was his only center. Nobody else wanted to be around him--he was addled, abrasive, and ill-tempered.

Then, like a mighty Phoenix Caravanserai rises from the ashes.

Full fledged jazz fusion with a heavy dose of latin percussion. Great organ from Gregg Rolie. Incredibly tight band interplay, on par with the best fusion acts. A superior album, a truly rewarding listen.

The great thing about this album is Santana's contemporaries, like the Grateful Dead, Creedence Clearwater, anyone you name except Frank Zappa DOES NOT have the chops to pull this off. A fantastic effort that should have it's own wing in the Hall of Fame.

Author's note: I'm still searching for the Lita Ford Rock'n' Comix--if anyone has a line on one let me know
For jazz fans and fans of jazz/rock fusion, 'Caravanserai' is their best.

'Santana' get close to a track-for-track classic here, and it's exciting to see them do so. During the departure of Schon and Rolie (guitar and piano & organ respectively), this line-up of the band had Santana and drummer Shrieve firmly at the helm in creating a mostly glorious jazz fusion album that stretched far beyond anything Santana had created to date.

It's a bold move that probably frustrated record executives looking for another 'Black Magic Woman' to no end. From it's atmospheric opening 'Eternal Caravan Of Reincarnation', complete with crickets, double bass and an almost tortured sax intro, it spoke of the change to come.

The album is full of fantastic guitar work and impressive rhythm playing, along with the Latin percussion that was to be expected and the thoughtful work of Shrieve, who was obviously channeling 'Maiden Voyage' with the track 'Waves Within', easily one of the best on the album. A Shaft-esque moment with 'Look Up (To See What's Coming Down)' is followed by one of the only vocal tracks on the album, 'Just in Time to See the Sun.'

Most songs run together into terms of mood and structure, forming movements or suites that are generally highly effective. As ever, Carlos' soloing is exceptional, especially on clear album highlight 'Song of the Wind' which is a work of art. Stunning stuff. Side One ends with 'All the Love of the Universe' another track with vocals, and the to-be-expected fiery guitar work.

Side Two is where the songwriting dips for me, and prevents the album from going to five stars. It opens with 'Future Primitive' and while it treads similar ground in some way as the album opener (if eventually more frantic) the idea is not as effective the second time around, even if it does provide nice symmetry. This track is followed by probably the weakest vocal cut 'Stone Flower' and is in turn followed by the racing rhythms of 'La Fuente del Ritmo', which is vaguely reminiscent of 'Toussaint L'Overture' from 'Santana III' but with space for some nice electric piano soloing from Costa. 'Every Step of the Way' closes the album, and is not ineffective by any means, but doesn't feel as strong as the rest of the album to me. Four stars.

A worthwhile addition to any jazz-fusion fan's collection, and a real creative high point for the band. Just don't buy this one if you're looking for radio hits.
My older brother and mother became big fans of Santana in the later '70's. I was not as much, so I never acquired any of his LPs. Didn't really need to, of course. I can't say that I've heard everything in his enormous catalog, but I think this one stands out as the most progressive efforts of the Santana band. One of the things I like about this album is that it's reverse of the trend of some progressive acts trying to go more pop (particularly in the late '70's and early '80's). Santana went heavy into prog territory!

The first three albums were reasonably progressive in the sense of exploring new musical territory, (excellent album covers, too), but this one is much more instrumentally focused. Although I believe it was in my brother's collection for a while, I don't remember it getting played a lot. This album was really a nice discovery for me. I acquired the new CD release and gave it a close listening for the first time in 2004. While the older material seems to be anchored to late '60's early '70's (not a bad thing, indeed). This stuff has more of a timeless quality to it. One can only hope that after three recent popular successes: Supernatural, Shaman, and All That I Am, Santana might get the urge to venture once again into more progressive territory.

Some trivia: Greg Rollie (the first keyboardist) and Neal Schon (second guitarist added with Santana III) left after this one. They formed Journey which, I understand, started out progressive and drifted into being that dreadful pop outfit that many us of here have heard enough of, incidentally or otherwise, to last a lifetime.
Before absorbing the near-unanimous acclaim earned over the years by Santana's 1972 studio masterpiece, the band had meant little more to me than a ubiquitous presence on the AM radio dial in my high school days during the 1970s. Many decades down the road, I will now officially and in a public forum kick myself in the rump for ignoring too long a superlative musical experience. Older and wiser, so forth and so on...

Jazz-Rock Fusion was of course the hot buzzword in the early '70s, as spearheaded by such pioneering groups like WEATHER REPORT, MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA, and RETURN TO FOREVER, all formed (and not coincidentally) by alumni of the MILES DAVIS "Bitches Brew" sessions (and likewise all bands that flew beneath my own shortsighted radar at the time).

Carlos Santana never played alongside the legendary jazz trumpeter, but he was certainly a fan. And his eponymous band brought something new and unique to the freshly-set Fusion banquet: a strong sense of Latin rhythm and rock 'n' roll intensity, together reaching its highest combined level of expression on the band's fourth studio effort. From the evocative simplicity of the Near-Eastern cover art to the long, unresolved fade-out of the last, furious jam (with discreet orchestral accompaniment) during "Every Step of the Way", this is a near perfect recording, and a timeless reminder of what music is meant to be.

It's also the one Santana album rarely acknowledged in any of the band's numerous greatest-hit packages and best-of compilations. And for good reason: even with the occasional vocals it still plays like an organic, entirely instrumental concept album, and the songs (to their credit) all lack the top-40 radio airplay appeal of hits like "Evil Ways" and "Black Magic Woman".

In other words, it's an album aiming at something higher than simple commercial success. Don't expect to hear any singing at all until well after the twelve-minute mark, and then just a brief interlude (during "Just In Time To See the Sun") before the more assured salsa-rock fusion of "Song of the Wind", featuring some of Santana's most relaxed yet ecstatic soloing (on an album already overflowing with uncomplicated musical joy).

The entire effort glows with the same, pervasive mood of unforced optimism. Check out some of the track titles ("All the Love in the Universe": hardly a jukebox-friendly moniker). Note too the relaxed, atonal saxophone intro and near-subliminal layering of acoustic bass and percussive allsorts in "Eternal Caravan of Reincarnation", so reminiscent, at least to this aging Crimhead, of the chorus to "Formentera Lady", from the King Crimson album "Islands", released one year earlier.

Strictly speaking, this album shouldn't even be considered Jazz, or Rock, or Jazz-Rock. Like the fusions of MILES DAVIS at the time, it resists any easy-fit categorizing, and ought to be heard as nothing more or less than Music, purely and (not always so) simply.
Perhaps it's far too easy for the younger generation of jazz enthusiasts to underestimate the enormous influence that Santana had on the direction of fusion music in the early 70s and that's a shame. Maybe their well-deserved inclusion on this site will go a long way towards rectifying that situation. After establishing themselves as bonafied "Top 40" chart-toppers with their first three studio albums the group was expected to continue that trend with more of the same radio-friendly ditties. Instead, they shocked the listening public (and probably the suits at Columbia) with an album that introduced the masses to the new and blossoming world of jazz rock/fusion that was jetting across the planet just under the radar of popular acceptance. "Caravanserai" was a real trip for the average Joe and not all of their fans were exactly thrilled trying to dance to its indulgence in odd time signatures but for many it opened a door to music that they didn't know existed from bands like Return to Forever, Weather Report and The Mahavishnu Orchestra. Now, don't get me wrong. This album really doesn't sound like any of those groups much at all. It went platinum because it's still got that infectious, exciting Santana sound and groove that is undeniably addicting. But this one takes the listener on a fantastic journey I dare say is quite unlike any taken elsewhere. It stands alone in their vast catalogue of excellent musical offerings and I consider it their apex. Along with Carlos' stunning, emotionally inspired guitar playing, Michael Shrieve's incredible drumming and the tandem of James Mingo Lewis & Jose Chepito Areas' exemplary percussion are without peer in the timeframe this was released in. Even the gruff-voiced Greg Rolie (whom I always thought of as a weak link) surpasses all expectations and performs far beyond what I perceived his abilities to be. I'll forego my usual song by song review and tell all of you that read this to simply experience this amazing project as a whole. There's not a low point to be found and the highs are numerous and unforgettable. They created a work of art that is accessible and understandable to even those with the most basic musical savvy while weaving a tapestry of tones and rhythms that is indescribable. It simply must be heard to believe. I encourage all who love the great fusion music of the 70s to experience it. You will not be disappointed. A very solid 5 stars.

Members reviews

Santana really jumped the shark with this "Caravanserai", a jazz fusion landmark, which is more like Tangerine Dream's atmospherics in places, than the customary blasting lead guitar jamming Santana fans may have become accustomed to. The sun soaked atmospheres emblazoned on the cover really highlight the mood of the album. The tribal percussion punches are a main feature, pounding throughout and even inundating the sound with Africana relish, such as on Future Primitive. Then there are Arabian flourishes that may conjure images of a lone desert scape with a camel making its way across arid sandy mirages.

We hear the desert scape with nature's sounds in Eternal Caravan of Reincarnation, and then the low hum of the sun's rays with fluttering flute, until the chimes glisten over cooling down the heat, with swells of keyboard echoes. All the Love in the Universe is a spiritual journey that moves inexorably to a climax, along a bass pulse, finally breaking into a song and then an insane instrumental break with Carlos lead and Gregg Rolie's Hammond battling for supremacy.

The music flows along organically in the first half with not too many breaks from one track to the next and encapsulates the power of desert ambience. It is a soulful, at times moving journey, and always completely challenging musically. Santana never returned to this style again so it remains a solitude wilderness album, a desert island album literally pulsating with energy. When the guitar is to be heard it comes in a flurry of power at the hands of mighty Carlos such as on Stone Flower, with Rolie's Hammond shimmers and vocals that echo in the distance.

La Fuente Del Ritmo continues the quest to find the oasis, the water of life, with chaotic piano and cymbal splashes, and the congas and bongos are never far around the corner. The groove locks into frenetic tempo as the lightning fast hands on the congas attack. Carlos' lead work is exceptional, enigmatic over the arousing African beats. The improvisatory piano runs are competing against the manic tom toms, and then the Hammond blasts return like rain falling into the oasis.

It all leads ultimately to a 9 minute extravaganza 'Every Step Of The Way', opening with gentle percussion, with Hammond answers, and the threat of a cascading guitar phrase. As far as jazz fusion goes this really hits the target. Santana take their time getting to the meat, and taking great pains to build up to a crescendo. This is a tense experience at times, and at three minutes it finally breaks into a downpour of grooving bass and drums as lead guitar swoops like a hungry vulture. Once the vulture is airborn everything melts into the sunshine of the soundscape. The sound of a bird twittering floats overhead and then flutters down into swathes of keyboards and a wonderful brass sound that builds to a climax.

"Caravanserai" is sheer musical poetry and one of Santana's triumphs; certainly one of their most famous albums and will continue to challenge and move listeners for decades to come; a timeless treasure.
"Caravanserai" is Santana's fourth album, released in 1972, and is a masterpiece of jazz/rock/Latino/space/fusion. It contains no hits like the previous three albums. It is largely instrumental, beautiful piece of work that shows great amount of talent, imagination and creativity of Carlos Devadip Santana and his backing band.

It sounds like a thematic piece, albeit not a "concept", about mysticism surrounding caravans, desert, sand, sun and moon, day and night, and the universal values of life in general. The music here performed is Santana's first full foray into classic fusion. There are plenty of spacey and ambience keyboards (mostly Hammond and piano) and percussion. Bass is a forefront instrument in many moments on the album and it often sounds as played fretless, thus a wonderful melodic sound. Guitar is less dominant than on previous works, but in turn it fits nicely into the overall music journey, with effective and gentle solos right in proper places (Santana is sometimes prone to excessive "guitar hero" pyrotechnics and unnecessary soloing). The compositions are interconnected without pauses, so the listening process goes smoothly and uninterrupted.

Musicianship, composing and production are all perfect. For my taste the only flaw of this album are weak vocals in "All the Love of the Universe", which are too sweetie and come close to easy listening sound. All the rest is perfect. I would like to recommend "Caravanserai" especially to those people who don't like his classic Latin-rock sound of early, more commercial albums.
A confident step into fusion territory, Caravanserai does not jettison the salsa and psychedelic rock influences of previous Santana albums - both manifest themselves here and there at points - but it does amp up the jazz component of the band's music sharply, as well as putting a strong emphasis on the role of percussion in the group's composition, with no less than four percussionists taking part. Of course, Carlos Santana himself still plays exceptional lead guitar on this, but his solos play less of a central role this time - despite the group bearing his name, this album is very much a band effort, to the point where Santana doesn't even get a songwriting credit on all the songs. A credible entry to the fusion world, as well as a decent attempt at large-group fusion of a sort experimented with by only a few artists. I don't think it's quite as iconic as the great milestones of the fusion genre, or Santana's previous two albums, but it is extremely strong nonetheless.
Sean Trane
Well, hardly any words can describe just how fantastic this album. Only one of a handful albums that reach perfection, this stunning chef d’oeuvre, even with this site’s vast choice of albums, I cannot think of five albums ahead of it. The peak in Santana’s career (Carlos’ solo career was not really started yet, either) comes rather early, and unfortunately will not be equalled again, although they will come close with Borboletta. By now, the classic Santana group was becoming a loose aggregation of great musicians, this album marks also the turning point between the first and second era of the group. The first departure woula happen after this album, while some future members made their apparition. While the previous albums were just collection of songs and I would not call this album a full-blown concept album, there is definetely a theme all the way through (outside stunning musical beauty that is): every song flow from each other so naturally that you will actually feel that there are just one track per album.

As opposed to their previous three albums, the feeling is drastically different and you know that there will be many adventures from the extatic exhilaration to the stunning and reflective introspection. With a solidly almost-atonal opening track telling you that your musical trip will be as wonderfully strange as a Touareg caravan crossing the Sahara, the album gets a kickstart with Waves Within and segues into the majestic Look Up where the band is in full stride and now compleyely unleashed. And by now you have barely just left the banks of the Nile River heading for the Atlantic Coast, so you can imagine the amazing trip still laying ahead. Just In Time In See The Sun is one of two sung tracks and although short is yet another highlight of the album. The first side closes on the lengthier Song Of The Wind (where Carlos delivers some of his most delightful guitar lines) and All The Love In The Universe (the other sung track), this is one of the most perfect type of jazz-rock with many ecstatic moments.

Leaving Lake Tchad (the halfway mark and watering hole in your trip) behind you, you are heading straight for the forbidden city: Mali’s Timbuktu with still quite a few marvels laying before your path. The sun-drenched (more like sun-baked) Future Primitive is evocative of all the traps laying in the desertic and arid lanscapes and is a fitting almost free improv. The mildly Arabian scales in the intro of Stone Flowers (probably referring to the sandroses) indicates that the trip is not always easy for the occidental youth, but the ultimate goal is at hand reaching the fabbled oasis. Clearly another peak is reached with Fuente Del Ritmo as you attack the lasdt quarter of the desert trek on your way to Dakar. This track sets aén incredible tension in the music with its 100 MPH cruising speed, the album reaching its apex: this track shows just how superb and awesome the band could be, and presenting for the first time Tom coster on the electric piano. The only flaw of the album comes from the fade-out of the track failing to create a real link with the apotheosis of the album, the closing 9-min Every Step Of The Way. I have a hard time thinking of a track that tops the musical tension created on this track: after a slowly increasing crescendo, the track suddendly jumps to a cosmic speed and some of the wildest musical landscapes ever: from the saturated flute solo, to the first guitar solo, solemnly underlined by a superb brass section for increased dramatic effects, you are just waiting to see if the orgasm will come when that one note will deliver your intellectual wad. And it does come (and so will you) in the form of a single guitar note (but the one you waited your whole life for), it releases all the built-up tensions and Dakar is in sight. Surely you have succeded in your internal quest for freedom of the mind and cannot be anything else but completely happy. You can ejaculate in the ocean.... I certainly believe that in the genre, no other albums comes even close to the mastery of this album, at least in the evocational power of the music. A true trip into the meanders of your brain, this album is more essential than anything that the prog big five have made. And I am hardly exagerating... ;-)

Uuuuhhh, Max!?!? About creating that sixth star rating, I asked you for.................

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