Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time
Few bands have appeared as full-formed and wholly unique as Santana. Although their now-legendary namesake guitarist gets all the attention, his fellow musicians were equally vital to the Santana sound, as they provided the funky Latin-rock framework for Carlos’ chunky riffing & searing solos. Their fiery debut album was released the same month as their career-defining appearance at the Woodstock festival in August 1969, and it remains an impressive musical statement five decades later.
For more information on this series, please read the opening paragraph of the first post, which featured the debut album from Led Zeppelin.
From GREAT OUT OF THE GATE Part 4:
It’s not often that an artist bursts onto the scene fully formed & wholly original, but the group led by guitarist Carlos Santana is a rare example of this phenomenon. The percussion-heavy Latin arrangements with Carlos’ searing guitar and future Journey founder Gregg Rolie’s soulful vocals & organ embellishments created a thrilling sound that set them apart from all of their contemporaries. They basically stole the show at Woodstock a few weeks prior to the album’s release with their performance of “Soul Sacrifice,” and all the elements that won over the half-a-million-strong crowd and the millions of viewers who saw the Woodstock film the following year were intact on the studio version. The consistency of their songwriting would improve on future releases but their debut still includes the classics “Evil Ways,” “Jingo” and “Persuasion,” and lesser-known tracks like “Waiting” and “Savor” are further evidence of a group that was way ahead of its time.
Santana has gone through numerous lineups and released a number of brilliant albums over the past 50 years. There are probably about four or five albums I rate slightly higher than their debut, but it’s still one of my favorites. Where would you rank it among their discography?