SANTANA — Santana

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SANTANA - Santana cover
4.28 | 33 ratings | 7 reviews
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Album · 1969

Filed under Latin Rock/Soul


A1 Waiting 4:07
A2 Evil Ways 4:00
A3 Shades Of Time 3:14
A4 Savor 2:46
A5 Jingo 4:23
B1 Persuasion 2:37
B2 Treat 4:46
B3 You Just Don't Care 4:37
B4 Soul Sacrifice 6:38

Total Time: 37:02


- Dave Brown/Bass
- Mike Carrabello/Congas, Percussion
- Mike Shrieve/Drums
- Carlos Santana /Guitar, Vocals
- Gregg Rolie /Piano, Organ, Vocals
- José Chepito Areas /Timbales, Congas, Percussion

About this release

Columbia – CS 9781 (US)

Recorded and Mixed at Pacific Recording, San Mateo, California

Thanks to snobb for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

Undeniably an amazing debut.

While not my favourite Santana release, it's just about as good as any from their classic period. They still have that San Francisco jam-band feel, which is later replaced by a jazzier approach, but at the same time it's an impressive blend of the Latin and Rock styles. The songwriting isn't as interesting as it would later become, but the key early-period Santana elements are here. Percussion, inventive use of organ and guitar (and not only in the form of Carlos' his soon-to-be trademark lead sound but his rhythm playing too) Shrieve's excellent work and the catchy vocal tunes supporting instrumental pieces.

It also includes several covers, one being the important hit single 'Evil Ways' and a version of 'Jingo' by Babatunde Olatunji (which I didn't realise until writing this review.) Of course, they aren't just carbon copies of other peoples' songs - they're Santana-fied, something the band also do well on their follow up 'Abraxas.' But for my money, the single-that-should have-been, 'Persuasion' is the better piece, it's more urgent and that rhythm guitar is just great - a tightly arranged rocker if ever they wrote one.

The influence of the blues should be mentioned of course - from the fairly stock-standard lyrics to the effective outro of 'Treat' or 'You Just Don't Care' and 'Persuasion.' The showcase piece, 'Soul Sacrifice' is a little more indicative of where they would head across the next few albums and is a great closer.

While they'd become far more interested in pursuing a jazz sound (well, some of the band anyway) there's nothing truly unenjoyable here for a jazz fan with an ear for rock and the Latin sound. Santana would reach higher peaks of creativity with their follow up and especially with 'Caravanserai' but don't overlook this album.
Today it really is hard to appreciate what this album sounded like when it came out in the late 60s. Music that was this rhythmically kinetic, as well as heavy and loud did not exist before Santana broke out of the new Latin-rock scene and captured the attention of the whole world. This album was a perfect blend of pop Latin-jazz and the new heavy rock sound of the day, sort of like Deep Purple sitting in with Mongo Santamaria. Although almost everything on this album is good, there are five tracks in particular that really stand out; Waiting, Savor, Treat, Soul Sacrifice and Jingo. All five of these tunes combine driving percussion with beautiful, almost classical guitar melodies. Savor has such an intense rhythmic drive that it is impossible to sit still when it hits the speakers. Although Carlos' guitar technique would become more advanced over the years, I think his melodies on this album are his most direct and passionate ever. Each melody blends perfectly with the percussion section and increases the drive and energy of their playing.

Greg Rolie may not be able to play the long-line solos of a Jimmy Smith or Jon Lord, but he makes great use of the skills he has and delivers great B-3 solos that are a perfect complement to Carlos' guitar solos. Probably Greg's biggest asset is that he really knows what sounds good on a B-3 and works well with the swell pedal and the speed change on the Leslie. I always preferred Greg's playing to the more dry and technical playing of Tom Coster, who would later replace Greg in the band.

One of the more interesting aspects of this album is how Carlos arranges the guitar and organ to approximate the sound of a horn section in a more traditional Latin jazz band. Carlos's doubled guitar lines sound like the trumpet section while Greg's Hammond takes the role of the rest of the horns.

This album was practically shocking when it first came out. Although the shock has wore off, it still sounds amazing today. Music this energetic and passionate is truly hard to come by.
When I think of the music of the late 60s I think of the musicians and bands of that wild era as being like chemists in that they were experimenting and mixing rock and roll with every style known to man and coming up with new hybrids right and left. By 1969 one of the only genres left untapped was the spicy influence of the countries lying south of the continental United States. But even then there were some clever scientists in the lab working on changing that oversight. Introduce the obscure group Santana onto the biggest live showcase of the century and you have an instant phenomenon. The opening of "Waiting" gives you the impression of an approaching stampede and soon the group explodes into a fiery instrumental that quickly surrounds you with this new sound. You get a short dose of growling Hammond organ, biting guitar and a torrent of congas to get your heart racing before they slip into the classic "Evil Ways" that took even stodgy AM radio by storm. To this day it's still a great track with Gregg Rolie's sly organ solo and Carlos Santana's burning guitar. It was a much-needed uptempo hit song in the midst of a strange and tumultuous year. "Shades of Time" contains shades of Tejano phrasing and also displays Carlos' more delicate fingering on his lead. "Savor" is a feverishly paced instrumental that declares to us the mastery of Mike Carabello and Jose Chepito Areas as they literally tear it up on timbales and congas. Rolie's percussive organ taps add a hot flavor to the song, as well. "Jingo" is another perfect example of the mature attitude of the band. The vocals are just a group chant here as they put emphasis on melody first, then they have the patience to allow the infectious rhythm to rule without interruption. "Persuasion" is just pure rock from start to finish. "Treat" is a needed changeup. It begins with some scat piano, then segues into a faster "Evil Ways" progression before dropping back down to the sultry piano again. "You Just Don't Care" is a prime model of the unmistakable San Francisco blues sound that surrounded the band during their conception. Unfortunately it reveals Rolie's limitations as a singer but Carlos' fierce guitar more than makes up for it. "Soul Sacrifice" is an epic and the very essence of Santana. Much, much more than just a jam session, it features the structured melodies and dynamic accents that would separate them from the madding crowd of pretenders. The young Michael Shrieve finally gets to shine in a short drum solo before they climax with a definitive rock concert ending that leaves you breathless. This version is just as exciting as their spellbinding performance on the Woodstock soundtrack.

If there's any downside to this classic it's that there's not a lot of variance of tones here. And that's probably because the execs at Columbia wanted to seize the momentum they had created and get them into the studio ASAP. It sounds like the engineers never moved a microphone and just let the band cut the tracks one after another and that's no crime. It gives the album an authenticity and unenhanced quality that makes it very refreshing and real. Combine all that with one of the best album covers ever and you've got yourself a remarkable debut. Primitive but quality jazz/rock fusion? Very much so.

Members reviews

siLLy puPPy
Nothing screams the summer of 69 and the Woodstock event for me more than SANTANA. One day they were simply the Carlos Santana Band doing small gig venues in San Francisco and the next day after performing at that event they were watching their debut album racing up the charts and reaching number 4 on Billboard. “Evil Ways” also proved to be a huge top 10 hit as well. This rags to riches story may have happened anyway but perhaps not so fast. Their slot on the Woodstock event was actually won by the flip of a coin. Michael Lang, the concert promoter was pressured by Bill Graham to include one of the the acts that Bill managed. It was down to SANTANA and It's A Beautiful Day, another San Francisco band. The coin was flipped, SANTANA won, and enjoyed instant popularity and as we all know, much more was to come.

This is gorgeous album from beginning to end. SANTANA started out as a jam band but was advised to write a few more structured songs by Graham. The result is a perfect mix of free jam energy with structured songwriting that the band perfectly performs knowing when enough is enough and to move on to something else. This new Latin jazz fusion of the day took the world by storm and with half of the band dedicated to percussive instruments it's no wonder the world was mesmerized by this energetic mix of Latin jazz, Afro-Cuban rhythms and heavy psych blues that tied it all to the era. This is one of those album I never tire of. It has a timeless quality to it yet it always brings me to that time and place before my time. My personal favorite SANTANA is this one and what a beauty it is.
The debut for iconic legends soul rocking Santana is a phenomenal album full of songs that would cement the band as contenders for one of the most successful groups in history. Carlos Santana is the driving force on lead guitar and absolutely energizes each track with dynamic creativity. The power of the tracks is injected with heavy stabbing overpowering Hammond. The first Santana experience for me was the Woodstock "Soul Sacrifice" performance with that wonderful guitar lick and the amazing drum solo that is unforgettable both visually and aurally. Nothing could compare to that but the studio version is still not too bad though lacking that energy in the live performance. It is always going to be synonymous with Santana's greatest hit and features on every compilation of the group.

The debut album is mainly instrumental and is all the better for it. It begins with a bright jam session on "Waiting", a sanctuary of incessant bongos and pumping bass. "Evil Ways" follows and has become a part of Santana's set list over the years and for good reason. It features amazing dextrous playing of Carlos and swathes of organ that locks into some of the most infectious melodies the band generated. There are Latin flavours wrapped up in "Shades of Time" driven by no less than three percussionists. An instrumental follows in "Savor" and then the wonderful "Jingo" sung in Spanish and Carlos is an inferno on guitar; an absolutely extraordinary guitarist with worldwide acclaim thanks to tracks like this.

Later on in the album we are treated to the six minute instrumental, "Soul Sacrifice" that is unforgettable with manic percussion and staccato Hammond blasts. It sends a chill down my spine every time and is my all time favourite Santana piece. It caps off a very strong debut that has become engrained in the band's success and indeed is one of the all time great debuts of 1969.
Excellent debut and one of the definite albums of the San Franciscan psychedelic scene of the late sixties! They proved themselves during the famous Woodstock Festival in summer 1969, when their rendition of "Soul Sacrifice" (from this album) was one of few musical highlights of the event. This album is almost perfect mix of acid-rock, Latino percussions, soul, blues and hints of future jazz improvised jams. Santana's sustained guitar solo parts were highly original, Rollie's organ and vocals add a soulful touch, while the young Michael Shrieve on drums was amazing, not to mention strong percussion and bass support. Even though not strictly a jazz-rock record, "Santana" is more than likely to satisfy the taste of many jazz and fusion fans.
Sean Trane
Rarely has such a debut album attained such a level of perfection, but Santana were around for three years so they had plenty of time to become a tight unit and belting powerful anthems. Santana was part of that second wave of San Fran bands, but did not really sound as psychedilc as their forerunners, mostly due to guitarist Carlos Santana and the percussionists giving such an incredible Latin timbre to their feel. Their music reminded everyone that indeed the Californian Spanish heritage was indeed still a reality. From the more traditional rock side come the excellent singer/keyboardist Gregg Rollie and the superb Michael Schrieve. The mix of influences is an excellent example of early fusion (before the term got coined as a twin of jazz-rock) between many Latin America musics and the more RnR, blues, jazz and they were highly innovative. Santana got their big break from their stellar gig in Woodstock propelling their debut album to unhoped-for heights with tracks like Soul Sacrifice.

As I said above, their music was high energy rock and when taking a look at the track list, a good half of this album are pure classics. Evil Ways, Waiting, Persuasion, Soul Sacrifice are complete and utter classic tracks still getting airplay nowadays. I will always remember Jingo Loba for its power (and a friend’s house shall too, after it suffered permanent structural damages from some 50 kids dancing like one on a first floor). And the fact that the majestic Treat was played at a friend’s funeral in the mid-70’s as a piano-conga duo and extended to 15 minutes bringing everyone (even the parents) to tears of joy in such occasion. Yes, this review is biased, yes I am completely unable to bring myself to say one bad (or even average) thing about this album. Yes, some 35 years after discovering thisc album, I am still heads over heels (wors:I think I am heels over heads ;-) and even the relatively lesser tracks such as Savor or Shade Of Time would be highlights on many other band’s best offferings.

Today still almost 40 years later this record still feels fresh and up to date.

PS: although a single-sleeved album, take a close look at the lion’s head and count the human faces in it. The remastered version comes with some live tracks which gives an idea of their power on stage as well.

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