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Santana | Santana III: Legacy Edition (Columbia/Legacy)

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The multi-platinum disc gets the special treatment here with the Legacy Edition, adding three previously unreleased tracks and the single version of “No One to Depend On” to the album proper and including a second disc containing a live performance from July 4, 1971, from the legendary Fillmore West.

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Carlos Santana is one of those rare artists able to keep reinventing himself, remaining relevant in an industry that’s always eager to move onto the next big thing. Emerging in the late 1960s during the San Francisco Bay Area musical heyday, the eponymous Santana featured an amazing collection of musicians that had an even more amazing sound. After playing Woodstock (the original, not the sorry nostalgia-fests of the ’90s), the group was flying high on its success, and released an album that captured the sound that they created live almost perfectly. Featuring future Journey co-founders Greg Rollie and Neal Schon, Santana also featured a bevy of percussion instruments to augment the standard guitars/bass/drums setup that was the standard at the time. Infusing jazz, Latin music, and rock ’n’ roll into one colossal sound, Santana III was about as good as music got. The reissue of Santana III takes us back to the day when this complex hybrid of music was first taking hold, and it still feels fresh.

The album features the lineup that played Woodstock, and originally reached no. 1 on the Billboard Top 200 when released in 1971. The multi-platinum disc gets the special treatment here with the Legacy Edition, adding three previously unreleased tracks and the single version of “No One to Depend On” to the album proper and including a second disc containing a live performance from July 4, 1971, from the legendary Fillmore West. Listening to the two, you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference between the live disc and the studio one; the only giveaway is the crowd’s enthusiastic cheering. That a group can recreate such a lush, full sound onstage without the use of backing tapes (this was 1971, for crying out loud) speaks volumes to the talent.

The studio side of Santana III includes the single “No One to Depend On,” as well as other amazing tracks, including “Jungle Strut,” “Guajira,” and “Everybody’s Everything.” These songs have a certain flavor that epitomizes the era, but still manage to sound like almost nothing else out there today. Although it’s true that somewhere along the line, Carlos Santana—as well as most musicians from that era—slipped in and out of mediocrity and started churning out cookie-cutter albums that had nothing original to offer listeners, you can almost forgive him due to the dazzling display the he and his band put on here. Bands like Rusted Root and Gomez owe their existence to Santana, and after taking another listen to this album, you’ll realize that this 1971 gem is definitely worth adding to your collection based solely on the manic energy that pumps out of the speakers when you hit “play.”
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