CARLOS SANTANA — Love Devotion Surrender (with John McLaughlin) (review)

CARLOS SANTANA — Love Devotion Surrender (with  John McLaughlin) album cover Album · 1973 · Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
Sean Trane
After the artistically perfect Caravanserai and the first departure from his original group, Carlos had also developed an interest in eastern philosophy and became a student of Guru Sri Chimnoy along with his buddy John McLaughlin. Both started their spiritual names, respectively Devadip Carlos and Mahavishnu John. Generally this writer is not a fan of those so—called eastern philosophies (all too often being religious sects), but in this case it did not affect the two guitarist’s performance and might have even inspired them to their better works (John with Inner Mounting Flame and Birds Of Fire and Carlos with Caravanserai and Borboletta) and their collaboration would be just as fabulous.

This album is homage to jazz giant John Coltrane and this very present album is no stranger or foreign factor to this writer’s appreciation of the giant Trane. As a matter of fact, Carlos’ two Trane albums (this one and Illuminations) and Christian Vander’s Magma are the main highways that lead me to jazz, bebop and later free jazz, RIO and Contemporary classical music. Clearly the album draws on Coltrane mythic album A Love Supreme, which represent his artistic peak, as almost everyone will agree. Although both guitarists having brought some of their respective group’s members (Rauch, Peraza and Shrieve for Carlos and Young, Cobham and Hammer for John), both guitarist being on the same Columbia label, the album will be considered more of a Santana solo album (check in the store shelves) than a McLaughlin solo. Go figure why, though.

Right from the opening track, we are plunged in the third movement of Trane’ ALS, right around one of the only place when you hear Coltrane singing. Well here Carlos and John are just wailing in front of Larry Young’s great organ. The second track is an acoustic reprise of Naima (a Coltrane classic) where McLaughlin is clearly on lead guitar. The next A Life Divine is a McLaughlin inspiration on the same theme than the opener, but Carlos gets some choice leads. Since both guitarists have such distinctive styles, it is quite fun to follow what each is doing. The major track of the album is the lengthy House Of The Lord where the two compadres are simply having a ball at it. The album closes on a short McLaughlin acoustic track.

The only weak point of this album is the uninventive artwork when knowing that both Santana and Mahavishnu Orchestra were dishing at minimum interesting covers and at best fascinating sleeves. If like me you fear some kind of religious recuperation (the only one being financial since all proceeds from the albums go into the guru’s well-being), rest assured that after three decades of listening to this album, I am still quite resisting to any kind of religious bewitchment or recruiting.

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