Santana: “Evil Ways” (1969)

Santana’s smooth version of this Willie Bobo song gave them their first Top 10 single and signaled the beginning of their winning ways.

Kronomyth 1.3: Bobo-la-jingle.

Oddly, it was “Jingo” and not “Evil Ways” that was selected as the first single from Santana. At the end of the year, an edited version of “Evil Ways” was released and gave Santana their first big hit. Santana’s slick and stylized version of the Willie Bobo song smooths over the original rough edges, lending credence to Carlos Santana’s comments that they were making music for white people. White, brown or blue, it’s a remarkably tight song that succintly packages the Santana sound in (arguably) its most appealing form.

The B side is “Waiting,” the song that led off the set on their seminal Woodstock performance. The studio version isn’t as scintillating as the live version, but at this point any Santana song was a magical invocation of exotic sounds. In the UK, “Jin-Go-La-Ba” was chosen as the B side. Of minor interest, “Evil Ways” was originally and erroneously credited to Jimmie Zack, who had written a much different song called “Evil Ways” many years earlier. This was likely the work of lazy archivists, who simply thumbed through a catalog of songwriters until they found a name that matched, since it’s impossible that Santana didn’t know the source of the song.

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Original 7-inch single version

A1. Evil Ways (Sonny Henry*) (2:35)
B1. Waiting (Santana Band) (4:02)

Original 7-inch single version (UK)
A1. Evil Ways (Sonny Henry*) (3:12)
B1. Jin-Go-La-Ba (Michael Olatunji) (4:15)

* Original pressings credited Jimmie Mack as the songwriter.

Back-to-back hits 7-inch single
A1. Jingo (Michael Olatunji) (2:40)
B1. Evil Ways (Sonny Henry) (2:35)

The Plastic

Released on 7-inch single on December 30, 1969 in the US and Canada (Columbia, 4-45069), on April 17, 1970 in the UK (CBS, S 4940), and in 1970 in Australia (CBA, BA-221719), Brazil (CBS, 33628), France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain (CBS, 4800), Japan (CBS Sony, CBSA 82048) and New Zealand (CBS, BA 461279) with regional picture sleeve; reached #9 on the US charts (charted on January 24, 1970 for 13 weeks).

  1. Re-released on back-to-back hits single in 1970 in the US and Canada (Columbia Hall of Fame, 4-33185).

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