SANTANA — Welcome

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SANTANA - Welcome cover
3.10 | 15 ratings | 6 reviews
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Album · 1973

Filed under Fusion


A1 Going Home 4:10
A2 Love, Devotion & Surrender 3:35
A3 Samba De Sausalito 3:08
A4 When I Look Into Your Eyes 5:49
A5 Yours Is The Light 5:44
B1 Mother Africa 5:54
B2 Light Of Life 3:49
B3 Flame-Sky 11:32
B4 Welcome 6:28

Total Time: 50:27


- James Mingo Lewis / Congas
- Doug Rauch /Bass
- Devadip Carlos Santana /Guitar
- Richard Kermode /Keyboards
- Armando Peraza /Percussion
- Jose Areas /Percussion
- Leon Thomas / Vocals

About this release

Columbia – PC 32445 (US)

Thanks to EZ Money, snobb for the updates


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'Welcome' is an uneven release but does have enough moments to make it worthwhile.

Obviously, as Santana's first album written completely without Rolie and Schon (who were replaced by Leon Thomas (vocals) and Tom Coster on various organs) constituted a change in sound. While some of the pop feel returned, some of the jazz left. 'Welcome' included a large lineup with multiple singers and featured high profile guests like John McLaughlin and Flora Purim.

In general, the instrumental tracks are more memorable than the vocal cuts here. 'Going Home' is a large build-up to the opening notes of 'Love, Devotion and Surrender' which is something of a mix between chanting and a typical pop song. Pieces like the percussion heavy 'Mother Africa' recall the Santana of old, but with a saxophone solo taking the place of lead guitar. 'Samba de Sausalito' is another good instrumental but neither are quite as engaging as 'Flame-Sky' with its guest appearance from McLaughlin, the two guitarists create something equal to anything the two came up with their previous collaboration, and also features a stand out performance from Shrieve. The longest track on the album at over 11 minutes, it's also one of the best jazz-rock moments in Santana's recorded history.

Vocal songs like 'When I Look into your Eyes' and 'Light of Life' are a little cheesy (especially lyrically) and stick out, whereas the mostly wordless appearance by Pruim on 'Yours is the Light' is much more effective. 'Welcome' closes the album in similar fashion to the opener.

Due to its uneven nature, it's three stars for me. Santana fans will want this one, there is enough of his trademark soloing and interesting instrumentals to make 'Welcome' worthwhile. More casual fans may want to stick with their early albums and fusion fans should check out 'Caravanserai' instead.

The reissue includes the restless 'Mantra' which is an outtake that would have been a suitable replacement for the title track.
Santana made such a fine jazz/rock album with Caravanserai, Welcome may have been a bit of a disappointment with his j/r oriented fans. But maybe a return to form for his pop fans. The LP got a decent amount of play around the house when I was in my teens. My older brother and mother were big Santana fans at the time. My sister has subsequently become one. My wife is a fan of the really early stuff and the latter stuff. One big Santanarama family. I didn't really latch on to it in the LP era when I first caught ear of it. I've come to appreciate it more now that I've picked up the remastered CD.

The opening track, Going Home, is really promising. Has a nice symphonic sound to it. It's followed a more pop track (with vocals, of course), Love, Devotion, and Surrender. The album starts a pattern of alternating between commercially appealing vocal tracks and really good instrumentals. The album really delivers at the end. Flame-Sky with John McLaughlin piece stands out in particular. A nice jam, and if you like that you need to check out Love, Devotion, and Surrender, the Santana/McLaughlin duo album released in the same year.

With the remaster, you also get a bonus track, Mantra. Another really good instrumental piece.

All in all, a really joyous album, with no dark moments. Well, maybe the lovey dovey songs a bit in a perverse kind of way. Still an interesting progression from the first three albums, yet as always, distinctively, Santana.
Since their electrifying debut Santana had improved and matured with every album, culminating in the timeless jazz/rock fusion masterpiece that is "Caravanserai" in 1972. Unfortunately, that was to be the last recording from the classic lineup as Greg Rolie and Neal Schon split to start their own "Journey" and conga man James Mingo Lewis had gone to wherever disgruntled percussionists go to pout. Not only that but they abandoned their custom of striking, artistic album covers and wrapped this LP in a blank one that had "Welcome" in raised letters as its sole feature. This is Santana's "White Album" and it regrettably but aptly symbolizes the lack of color in the music contained inside. "Going Home," arranged by Alice Coltrane and "The New Santana Band," is the opener where we are immediately introduced to Rolie's keyboard replacements. Richard Kermode plays Hammond organ and Mellotron and Tom Coster plays an oboe-like melody on the Yamaha organ. It's intended as an instrumental introduction but the crashing drums and percussion along with malleted cymbals lead to... nothing much. "Love, Devotion and Surrender" should be the payoff to but it fails to deliver anything revelatory except for Carlos' singing on the first verse. Yes, it has a nice rhythm but there's no solo to speak of and Wendy Haas' and Leon Thomas' vocals are pedestrian at best. You'd expect something hot and spicy from percussionist Jose Chepito Areas yet his instrumental, "Samba De Sausalito," is sorely lacking in the group's customary dynamics and only serves as a jam for Coster to fill a long break with electric piano. Drummer Michael Shrieve and Coster contribute "When I Look Into Your Eyes" but it, too, is a letdown. Its MOR flavor is so far from being exciting that it may as well be elevator muzak. There's at least some decent flute from Joe Ferrell and when they elevate things to a funky feel halfway through you sense something explosive might be coming but it just fades away. By now it hits you that there's something very essential missing so far: Carlos Santana's guitar! Did his guru tell him his kharma was suffering because he was playing too much? Did a lotus-eating cult kidnap him? This inquiry is answered with Kermode's "Yours is the Light" wherein Carlos makes an appearance at last with a much needed ride early in the tune. However the song is a continuation of their lethargic cocktail lounge approach and the vocal by guest Flora Purim is so buried in reverb that it comes off more like a 60s Sergio Mendez easy listening soft jazz piece than something volcanic from the mighty Mount Santana. Moving on, "Mother Africa" (a variation on a theme by Herbie Mann) is a relief because it lends hope that they may yet have a pulse. Its lilting melody transitions to some good percussion work from Armando Peraza and Areas while Jules Broussard contributes some fluid soprano sax. Next you are greeted by a lovely string arrangement at the start of "Light of Life," but it's another disappointment. I swear it sounds as if the band was afraid of waking the neighbor's cat. It makes you yearn for Greg Rolie's gruff yet distinctive vocals because Leon Thomas is boring and pitchy. If there's a redeeming track to be found it's "Flame-Sky" that sounds like a leftover cut from Carlos and John McLaughlin's impressive project together ("Love, Devotion & Surrender"). It builds over an unorthodox time signature and Mr. Santana and Mr. Mahavishnu turn in some inspired guitar solos along with some slashing Hammond organ. It's a bit long at 11:32 but vastly preferable to the sleep-inducing drivel that precedes it. The closer is their take on John Coltrane's "Welcome" that draws Carlos out into the spotlight to offer up a lot of controlled feedback notes but very few flourishes. If you dig music with pianos cascading endlessly as if portraying an amateur painting of a serene waterfall and shimmering spray then this is your ticket to paradise. If that's not your idea of great Santana music then it's six and a half minutes of pointless, meandering swirls.

This album is a prime example of digressive, anemic jazz/rock music. The caliber of the guest musicians cannot be called into question but Lawrence Welk's orchestra had high-quality members as well and yet I doubt that you'd want to sit through one of that ensemble's albums. And the raw data indicates I'm not alone in my harsh assessment of this record. "Caravanserai," despite its bold and challenging foray into jazz rock/fusion, went platinum while "Welcome" sold dismally in comparison and barely reached gold status. Nothing lasts forever and the core of personnel that made Santana the industry juggernaut that consistently scaled the charts had scattered into the trade winds. From here on out Carlos would juggle the roster with every new album, achieving mixed results in the process. However, this particular project is the nadir. It's like someone saying, "Welcome, we'll be right with you" and you take a seat in the waiting room but no one ever comes back to take you anywhere.

Members reviews

Welcome is the second jazz fusion album by Santana. It is a more laid-back, Latin-jazz outing than Caravanserai, but no less enjoyable. However, it does not generally get ranked as highly as Caravanserai or Borboletta. This may be because it is too mellow for fans steeped in the intense sounds of Santana's previous albums, and it does not have as many incendiary guitar solos by Carlos, who seems more into the overall sound here regardless of who is playing. With Caravanserai the band, and Carlos in particular, took a keen interest in jazz, Carlos collaborating on a number of solo albums with jazz musicians. Themes from John Coltrane appear on Welcome, along with collaboration with Alice Coltrane. The band's makeup has changed as well, so that affects the overall sound. While Welcome is not the innovative album that Caravanserai is, and does not have a consistent theme, the playing is great and the songs are good. Enjoy!
Though Santana's fusion albums would eventually suffer from diminishing returns, Welcome stays fresh mainly through Santana apparently deliberately picking up the musical ideas Chick Corea had discarded during the Return to Forever lineup change. Whilst Chick had tired of combining Latin musical concepts with fusion and had gone for a more direct jazz-rock endeavour from Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy onwards, Santana seems to have found the first two Return to Forever albums sufficiently inspiring to inform his own compositional approach. A guest spot on vocals by Flora Purim, who performed on both those albums, only makes the comparison seem more apt. Obviously, there's more emphasis on electric guitar and less on electric piano this time around, but otherwise this is an interesting album - a bit atypical for Santana, but a joy for fans of early RtF.
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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  • lunarston
  • Fant0mas
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