[Review] Santana: Welcome (1973)

The spiritual, musical journey of Santana continues on this brilliant album.

Kronomyth 5.0: Pygmy twilight of the gods.

I reject the idea of an austere God. There is simply too much beauty and wonder in the natural world to support the notion that its creator is rigid and reserved. And then there is God’s expression of his love for us, The Song of Solomon, an explicitly sensual work. I mention these things because I believe Carlos Santana’s spiritual musical journey (beginning with Caravanserai) is closer to the way God would have us communicate with him.

After Caravanserai, Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin joined caravans for the “solo” album Love Devotion Surrender. It wasn’t quite up to the best work of Santana and Mahavishsnu Orchestra, but its exploration of jazz spiritualists John Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders was an important milestone for the pair. Welcome continues the journey by bookending original compositions and songs with material from John Coltrane (Welcome) and his wife, Alice Coltrane (Going Home). The lineup of Santana had also shifted in the last year, switching out the two-guitarist approach for two new keyboard players (Tom Coster and Richard Kermode), adding Armando Peraza as a full-time member, and inviting a trio of vocalists (Leon Thomas, Wendy Haas, Flora Purim) to sing along.

This new Santana band sounds noticeably different. Keyboards lead the caravan through much of its journey and R&B-styled vocals would now become a fixture on Santana albums. In truth, the vocal songs presented here (Love, Devotion & Surrender, When I Look Into Your Eyes, Yours Is The Light, Light Of Life) are love songs of the highest order, light years removed from “You Know That I Love You.” Thomas seems to have been on his own spiritual journey, which included channeling his ancestors through the ululating vocals featured on “Love, Devotion & Surrender.”

Although it’s a different record than Caravanserai, it’s equally brilliant. There isn’t a single track that fails to impress on several levels. The tightened up version of “Going Home,” the epic Flame-Sky (a McLaughlin reunion), the startlingly inventive Mother Africa (featuring Carlos Santana on kalimba) and even the by-now obligatory Latin percussion workout (Samba De Sausalito) reveal a band at the peak of their powers. But I would be doing this music a disservice if I merely glorified Santana. This music glorifies God, our abundant creator who filled the world with lovely things and invites us to explore his beauty through them.

Original elpee version

A1. Going Home (Alice Coltrane/The New Santana Band) (4:10)
A2. Love, Devotion & Surrender (Carlos Santana/Richard Kermode) (3:35)
A3. Samba De Sausalito (Jose “Chepito” Areas) (3:08)
A4. When I Look Into Your Eyes (Maltreya Michael Shrieve/Tom Coster) (5:49)
A5. Yours Is The Light (Richard Kermode) (5:44)
B1. Mother Africa (Herbie Mann/Carlos Santana) (5:54)
B2. Light Of Life (Carlos Santana/Richard Kermode/Tom Coster) (3:49)
B3. Flame-Sky (Doug Rauch/Carlos Santana/Mahavishnu John McLaughlin) (11:32)
B4. Welcome (John Coltrane) (6:28)

CD reissue bonus track
10. Mantra

Original 8-track version

A1. Flame-Sky
A2. Going Home (part 1)
B1. Going Home (conclusion)
B2. Love, Devotion & Surrender
B3. When I Look Into Your Eyes
C1. Samba De Sausalito
C2. Yours Is The Light
C3. Light Of Life
D1. Mother Africa
D2. Welcome

The Players

Jose “Chepito” Areas (timbales, percussion, congas), Tom Coster (Yamaha organ, Hammond organ, electric piano, marimba, percussion, string arrangement), Richard Kermode (mellotron, Hammond organ, electric piano, acoustic piano, shekere, percussion, marimba), Armando Peraza (percussion, congas, bongos, cabasa), Doug Rauch (bass), Carlos Santana (acoustic and electric guitars, percussion, vocals, bass guitar, kalimba), Maltreya Michael Shrieve (drums) with Greg Adams (string arrangement on B2), Jules Broussard (soprano saxophone on B1), (Alice Coltrane (piano and Farfisa organ on on A1, piano on B4), Joe Farrell (flute solo on A4), Wendy Haas (vocals on A2/A4), Mel Martin (flute on A4/A5), John McLaughlin (guitar on B3), Flora Purim (vocals on A5), Doug Rodriguez (rhythm guitar on A4), Tony Smith (drums on A3), Leon Thomas (vocals on A2/A4/B2, whistling on A5), Bob Yance (flutes on A4/A5).

The Plastic

Released on elpee and reel-to-reel tape on November 9, 1973 in the US (Columbia, FC 32445/1R1 6136) and Japan (CBS, SOPN-55). Reached #25 on the US charts (RIAA-certified gold record) and #8 on the UK charts.

  1. Re-issued on elpee, cassette and 8-track in the US (Columbia, PC/PCT/PCA 32445).
  2. Re-issued on expanded, remastered compact disc in 2003 in the US (Columbia Legacy, 85944-2) with one bonus track.

1 thought on “[Review] Santana: Welcome (1973)

  1. Comments – “Going Home” is Alice C’s arrangement of a folk song (also used prominently in Dvorak’s “New World”). Surely “Your Eyes” is the only track where Leon does his trademark ululation?

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