SANTANA — Lotus (review)

SANTANA — Lotus album cover Live album · 1974 · Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
Sean Trane
This triple live album originally recorded in in Osaka, Japan over two night in early July 73, was intended as a Japan-only release, but soon found its way worlwide as an import, as far as vinyls are concerned, something that stopped with the Cd re-issue. For the rest of the world, Moonflower was released in 76 instead, and it was a strange mix of live and studio tracks, and it has its charms as well. Lotus catches the Santana band between its two more or less stable period, as there are still embers of the first line-up, and not everyone of the second period (Amigos) is there yet. Coming in with a very elaborate fold out artwork, this album rivals with Yes’ Yessongs in terms of number f discs (3 each) and complex artwork, only to be topped by Chicago’s quadruple Carnegie boxset. As usual in that hippie era, the artwork of the band is slightly esoteric, mainly due to Carlos’ Yogi enrolment and while the illustrations are quite kitsch, they’ll not likely convert anyone either.

Starting with a Japaneseintroduction, the group licks with a homage to Alice Coltrane with a wurlitzer and a wink to the Illuminations album. The,n plunging into the ecstatic 12-minutes finale of Caranserai, one wonders if Santana is not laying down its trumps too early in the game, but which fan is not won over by these early sure-fire numbers. Then the band pulls out even more sure crowd favorites like the trio Magic:Gypsy and Como tracks from the Abraxas album.... After Yours Is The Light (Welcome) and a few more less remarkable number, the group launches into an adventurous medley (normaly taking up the whole second vinyl disc) of tracks with Casilleros jumping into Free Angela (Davis) and Sausalito and a then unreleased antra track (now a very-welcome bonus on the Welcome album), showing that Santana is not only extremely tight, but loves tricky and complex times sigs and great jazz-rock solos.

The second disc offers the end of the Castillos De Arena medley opassing through a 10-minutes drum solo (the album’s only weak point, really) in superb fireworks of notes from the whole group. A second set of three Abraxas tracks, including the much expanded Accident At Neshabur and Samba Pa Ti come in to close the set, before the encores including an explosive Toussaint from their third album.

In Lotus, we’ve got Santana at their near-best and Lotus is now a 2 Cd set that must be considered the most essential live Santana along with the 68 Fillmore. The only flaw of this album is that it doesn’t offer double thespace to put everything else we’d love to hear from Carlos’boys, includinf Jingo, more Caravanseari and somùe Borboletta (almost forgotten here)

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