Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time

Satur-debut – SANTANA “SANTANA”

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.



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?


8 comments on “Satur-debut – SANTANA “SANTANA”

  1. stephen1001
    April 6, 2019

    I hadn’t realized they were a group until recently – encouraging to read the full band contributed to the sound!


    • I’m surprised the fact that Santana is a band had eluded you for so long, but I suppose if you don’t follow them it would make sense to assume that Santana was simply a solo project by Carlos with backing musicians. There’s never been anything “backing” about the players he’s surrounded himself with.


  2. christiansmusicmusings
    April 7, 2019

    While I certainly don’t know all of Santana’s music – in fact, far from it – I totally dig their first three albums. Perhaps I like Abraxas a tick better than their eponymous debut, but these first three records are just dynamite. As you said, their sound was fiery. It had an electrifying groove.

    I had a chance to see Santana in 2016 when he was touring together with Gregg Rollie and other members of the classic Santana band in the wake of the Santana IV album. By the way, that’s not a bad record either.

    While they were performing, they had video footage from Woodstock on a giant monitor behind the stage. They would alternate images of the guys performing with footage from Woodstock. You really felt like traveling back in time – really cool!

    Needless to add, they played all the great stuff, from Soul Sacrifice to Evil Ways to Jingo, and of course Black Magic Woman, Oye Como Va and Samba Pa Ti. Who needs Smooth when you got that shit! 🙂


    • I love the first three albums, and Abraxas is definitely in my Top 4 or 5 Santana albums, along with (in no particular order) Caravanserai, Borboletta, and Moonflower. In my opinion all three are essential, and the debut is just a slight notch below those records.

      Very cool that you got to see the 2016 Santana IV lineup. I do like that album a lot. There’s nothing totally essential on it but it was great to hear them playing together again. I also own the live CD+blu-ray of that tour. Fantastic stuff. I saw Santana multiple times throughout the early- to late-’90s and my mind was blown every time. This was at a time when their records weren’t selling much but the tours always sold out. I gave Supernatural a chance when it came out, but it was a rare example of an artist actually selling out when they were accused of doing so. Good for them to finally get into the mainstream, but most of the music was watered-down Santana. I’m glad they’ve returned to less mass-marketed music over the last decade. Even the collaboration with the Isley Brothers was really good.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Alyson
    April 7, 2019

    “Percussion heavy Latin arrangements” I like a lot, and there is something about this sound that reeks of the late ’60s without being obvious about it, if you know what I mean. To have wowed and audience that were “half-a-million-strong” certainly says something. I am more familiar with later versions of Santana but could quite happily listen to this debut any time.
    (You’re off the hook this week as I don’t have a Santana-related anecdote.)


    • I thought this would be another example of “masculine music” that slipped past Alyson’s musical radar, so I’m happy to hear that you’ve been intrigued by it. Excellent point about it reeking of the late-’60s without being too obvious about it. Did you know that Carlos Santana released a very good solo album called Havana Moon in 1983? Something to consider if your moon series continues.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Alyson
        April 8, 2019

        Ooh, thanks for the heads up about Havana Moon – Sounds as if it could be a contender for the (very long) moon series.


      • I forgot that the title track of that album is a cover of a Chuck Berry song, so if you ever get to a Havana Moon post you’ll have a couple of musical directions to go in.

        Liked by 1 person

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