[Review] Santana (1969)

The classic debut album from the psychedelic Latin jam band that stormed Woodstock.

Kronomyth 1.0: Not woodstuck for an encore.

After the powerful performance at Woodstock in the open church of Man, the band known as Santana released this eponymous album into the world, setting into motion a phenomenon that continues strong some forty years on. While the band has undergone myriad lineup changes and shifted its purpose slightly to suit the tastes of the time (disco, pop), it has remained remarkably true to the vision outlined here: Latin jams driven by percussion and punctuated by guitar and organ solos; pop songs that put a uniquely Latin spin on the psychedelic/San Francisco scene; and magic jams that delve into jazz forms, often containing an ingenious guitar solo.

This first album contains classic examples of each: “Soul Sacrifice” and Babatunde Olatunji’s “Jingo” in the jam department, “Evil Ways” as the quintessential Santana cover, “Shades of Time” as the clever original. For all their confidence, however, this is still a young band finding its voice. Heavy blues-rock numbers like “Persuasion” and “You Just Don’t Care,” for example, are typical of the post-Cream landscape but not emblematic of the Santana sound.

While the acts that went before them (Jimi Hendrix, Grateful Dead, Cream, The Doors) certainly influenced Santana, and a cynic might see them as no more than a custom Latin chassis on a commercial engine, their voice is a unique one in rock. No one plays guitar quite like Carlos Santana, their instrumentation (percussion, guitar, organ & bass) is hypnotic and original, and Gregg Rolie left behind some of the greatest organ work in rock music. What the band lacks is a true lead singer; Rolie and Santana share the duty out of necessity. It’s when one of the pair queues up a solo that the music really sings. As with Led Zeppelin’s first album, this is more than a sign of things to come; it’s an arrival at a special destination where new sights and sounds flood the senses. Enjoy!

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Original elpee version

A1. Waiting (4:02)
A2. Evil Ways (J. Zack*) (3:56)
A3. Shades of Time (3:16)
A4. Savor (2:46)
A5. Jingo (Michael Babatunde Olantunji) (4:18)
B1. Persuasion (2:33)
B2. Treat (4:42)
B3. You Just Don’t Care (4:35)
B4. Soul Sacrifice (6:37)

Songs written by Santana Band unless noted.
* Later pressings correctly attributed the song to Sonny Henry.

CD reissue bonus tracks
10. Savor (live)
11. Soul Sacrifice (live)
12. Fried Neckbones (And Some Home Fries) (live)

2CD Legacy Edition bonus tracks
10. Studio Jam #1
11. Soul Sacrifice (alternate take 4)
12. Studio Jam #2
13. Fried Neckbones
14. Soul Sacrifice
15. Persuasion
16. Treat
17. Shades of Time
18. Jingo
19. Waiting (live)
20. You Just Don’t Care (live)
21. Savor (live)
22. Jingo (live)
23. Persuasion (live)
24. Soul Sacrifice (live)
25. Fried Neckbones (live)

The Players

José Chepito Areas (timbales, conga and percussion), Dave Brown (bass), Mike Carrabello (conga and percussion), Gregg Rolie (piano, organ and vocals), Carlos Santana (guitar and vocals), Mike Shrieve (drums). Produced by Brent Dangerfield and Santana; recording arrangement by Albert Gianguinto; engineered by Bob “Deputy Dog” Breault and Eric “Gentle Ben” Prestidge.

The Pictures

Cover art by Lee Conklin. Back cover photos by Jim Marshall.

The Plastic

Released on elpee and 8-track on August 30, 1969 in the US (Columbia, CS 9781) {two eyes label} and in November 1969 in the UK and the Netherlands (CBS, S/42 63815) {red-orange boxed eye label}; reached #4 on the US charts (RIAA-certified 2x platinum record) and #26 on the UK charts. 8-track features different track order.

  1. Re-issued on elpee in 1970 in the US (Columbia, CS 9781) {orange label} and the UK (CBS, S 63815) {orange label}.
  2. Re-released on reel-to-reel tape in the US (Columbia, HC 1172).
  3. Re-issued on elpee in 1973 in Japan (CBS/Sony, SOPN-87).
  4. Re-released on quadrophonic elpee in 1974 in the US (Columbia, CQ 32964).
  5. Re-issued on elpee in the US (Columbia, CS 9781) {six eyes label}.
  6. Re-issued on elpee in the US (Columbia, PC 9781) {six eyes label}.
  7. Re-issued on elpee in 1982 in the Netherlands (CBS, CBS 32003).
  8. Re-issued on elpee in 1983 in Yugoslavia (Suzy, CBS-63815).
  9. Re-issued on compact disc on July 22, 1987 in Japan (CBS/Sony, 28DP 1016).
  10. Re-issued on compact disc in 1988 in Australia (CBS, CDCBS 32003) and Brazil (Columbia, 2032003).
  11. Re-released on remastered compact disc in the US (Columbia, CK 9781).
  12. Re-issued on compact disc in 1993 in Japan (Sony, SRCS-6315).
  13. Re-released on expanded compact disc in 1998 in the US (Columbia Legacy) and Japan (Sony, SRCS-9438) with 3 bonus tracks.
  14. Re-issued on expanded compact disc in 2000 in Europe (Sony, 489542) with 3 bonus tracks.
  15. Re-released as Legacy Edition on expanded, remastered 2CD on October 19, 2004 in the US (Columbia) with bonus disc.
  16. Re-issued on expanded, remastered compact disc in 2006 in Japan (Sony, MHCP-997) with 3 bonus tracks.
  17. Re-released on 24k gold remastered compact disc in 2007 in the US (Mobile Fidelity, UDCD-773).
  18. Re-issued as Legacy Edition on expanded, remastered 2CD on May 19, 2008 in China (BMG, GSM 08761) with bonus disc.
  19. Re-issued on remastered elpee on November 28, 2008 in the US (Sundazed, LP 5263).
  20. Re-released on 180g vinyl elpee in 2009 in Europe (Music on Vinyl, MOVLP040).

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