[Review] Santana (1971)

Although it didn’t feature a smash hit, Santana’s third shows a lot of range and brings a 17-year-old Neal Schon into the fold.

Kronomyth 3.0: Danke, Schon.

The week before Santana’s third album was released, you could still find their first two albums in the Billboard Top 200 albums—a testament to the staying power of their music. Santana III, as the album has come to be called, is both a continuation of those albums and a departure from them. It continues to mix Latin workouts with obscure covers and interesting originals. But it’s also an album that takes risks, none bigger than the addition of a 17-year-old Neal Schon as the band’s second guitarist. I know, Carlos Santana was only 23 himself, but the one dropped acid at Woodstock while the other wasn’t old enough to buy a beer.

Santana III, as it turned out, wasn’t destined to eclipse the band’s first two albums. It does contain a handful of classic Santana tracks that have become a treasured part of the band’s history, including a pair of Top 40 hits, and shows off superb musicianship and an astounding range, but you’d sort of come to expect that by now. Factor in the subsequent release of Santana’s jazz fusion masterpiece, Caravanserai, and what you have here is probably the band’s least impressive classic album—which speaks more to the band’s early brilliance than any deficiency in the music of Santana III.

The album follows the previous formula by kicking off with a Latin rock instrumental, Batuka, that segues into the band’s new hit single, No One To Depend On. Having two guitarists plus Gregg Rolie on organ gives the band more options for solos, although the guitars win out more often than not. A lot of rock bands ended up rethinking the whole organ-in-a-rock-band thing. I’ve always enjoyed the next track, Taboo, which features Gregg Rolie doing a surprisingly good John Wetton/Greg Lake impression, although as a prog weenie you’d sort of expect me to say that. Toussaint l’Overture is another Latin rock workout that has stuck around in their live set for years, probably because it’s a great piece for improvised soloing.

Side two starts off with the album’s biggest hit, Everybody’s Everything, a reworking of The Emperors’ “Karate” with new lyrics and an explosive R&B/soul sound that features the Tower of Power horns. You get the impression between this and the cover of Gene Ammons’ Jungle Strut that someone in Santana had a very cool (and very eclectic) record collection. One of the standout tracks on Santana III, Guajira, is more of a collaboration between Santana, Rico Reyes and Mario Ochoa, and makes you wish they’d record an entire album of authentic Latin music. Carlos Santana does a remarkably good Eric Clapton impersonation on Everything Is Coming Our Way (although Clapton actually has the better voice), and the band closes everything out with another Tito Puente cover, the energized Para Los Rumberos.

Yes, Santana was probably doing too many drugs at this point, touring too much, moving in different musical directions. And, yes, you can hear things slightly coming apart at the seams on Santana III. But a lot of great music has emerged from less-than-ideal environments, and there’s a lot of great music on this record. It is more of a lateral move than a step forward. Caravanserai, now that was a leap, although the fall shattered the band, a topic for another day…

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Original elpee version

A1. Batuka (Santana) (3:35)
A2. No One To Depend On (Michael P.R. Carabello/Coke Escovedo) (5:25)
A3. Taboo (Gregg Rolie/Jose Chepito Areas) (5:40)
A4. Toussaint l’Overture (Santana) (5:54)
B1. Everybody’s Everything (Carlos Santana/Tyrone Moss/Milton Brown) (3:30)
B2. Guajira (David Brown/Rico Reyes/C. Reyes)* (5:50)
B3. Jungle Strut (Gene Ammons) (5:19)
B4. Everything’s Coming Our Way (Carlos Santana) (3:19)
B5. Para Los Rumberos (Tito Puente) (2:44)

*”Guajira” was later credited to David Brown/Jose Areas/Rico Reyes.

CD reissue bonus tracks
10. Batuka (live) (3:41)
11. Jungle Strut (live) (5:59)
12. Gumbo (live) (5:26)

Original 8-track version
A1. Batuka
A2. No One To Depend On
A3. Taboo (Part 1)
B1. Taboo (conclusion)
B2. Toussaint l’Overture
C1. Everything’s Coming Our Way
C2. Para Los Rumberos
C3. Jungle Strut (Part 1)
D1. Jungle Strut (conclusion)
D2. Everybody’s Everything
D3. Guajira

2CD Legacy Edition version bonus tracks
A10. Gumbo
A11. Folsom Street-One
A12. Banbeye
A13. No One To Depend On (single version)

Live at the Fillmore West, July 4, 1971
B1. Batuka
B2. No One To Depend On
B3. Toussaint l’Overture
B4. Taboo
B5. Jungle Strut
B6. Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen
B7. Incident at Neshabur
B8. In A Silent Way
B9. Savor
B10. Para Los Rumberos
B11. Gumbo

The Players

Jose Chepito Areas (timbales, conga, percussion, vocals, drums and flugelhorn), David Brown (bass), Michael P.R. Carabello (conga, vocals, percussion and tambourine), Gregg Rolie (piano, organ and vocals), Carlos Santana (guitar and vocals), Neal Schon (guitar), Michael Shrieve (drums, percussion and vibes) with Gregg Errico (tambourine on A2), Coke Escovedo (background vocals and percussion assistance on all tunes), Luis Gasca (trompeta on B5), Mario Ochoa (piano solo on B2), Rico Reyes (vocal on B2, background vocals on A2/A4/B5), Linda Tillery (background vocals on B1/B4), Tower of Power horn section (horns on B1). Produced by Santana musicians; engineered by Glen Kolotkin, David Brown; recorded by Mike Larner.

The Pictures

Album design by Heavy Water Light Show/Mary Ann Mayer and Joan Chase. Inside photograph by Joan Chase.

The Plastic

Released on elpee, 8-track and reel-to-reel tape in October* 1971 in the US and Canada (Columbia, KC/CA/CR 30595) and the UK and the Netherlands (CBS, S 69015) with gatefold cover; reached #1 on the US charts (RIAA-certified 2x platinum record) and #8 on the UK charts. R2R tape features back cover as front cover.  (*First appeared in 10/9/71 issue of Billboard.)

  1. Re-issued on quadrophonic elpee in May 1972 in the US (Columbia, CQ 35095).
  2. Re-issued on compact disc in the US (Columbia, CK 30595).
  3. Re-released as 30th anniversary expanded edition on expanded, 24-bit remastered compact disc in 1998 in the US (Columbia Legacy, 65491).
  4. Re-issued on compact disc on May 3, 2006 in Japan (Sony, MHCP 999).
  5. Re-released on expanded, remastered Legacy Edition 2CD in 2006 in the US (Columbia Legacy, 90270) with 15 bonus tracks.
  6. Re-released on remastered super audio compact disc in 2016 in the US (Mobile Fidelity, UDSACD 2158).

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