Santana | Santana III: Legacy Edition (Sony Legacy)

cd_santana-iii.jpgSantana III sounds as fresh today as it did in 1971. And it’s never sounded better than in the newly remastered Legacy edition, a two-CD set.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Santana, led by the virtuoso guitarist Carlos Santana, burst onto the American music scene in 1969 as one of the surprise hits of Woodstock. Three albums followed in three years, all multi-platinum: Santana (1969), Abraxas (1970) and Santana III (1971). Santana has gone through many personnel and style changes in the ensuing years but has continued to record successfully; in 2000 the singer and the band collectively won nine Grammys, including Album of the Year for Supernatural.

But for many fans, Santana III represents the band at the height of their powers. Santana created a unique sound which blended Latin, rock, and rhythm and blues, which expressed both the promise and the threat of the counterculture. There’s something undeniably dark, and very adult, about the music of Santana III; it takes place in a world which includes the Kent State shootings and the My Lai massacre as well as flower power and the Summer of Love.

Perhaps that’s why the music hasn’t dated. While lighter contemporary acts such as The Carpenters and Bobby Sherman are tolerable today only as camp, Santana III sounds as fresh today as it did in 1971. And it’s never sounded better than in the newly remastered Legacy edition, a two-CD set which also includes 11 tracks from a live 1971 concert recorded at the Fillmore West as well as several studio bonus tracks. This CD set is a like a musical time capsule, more effective than Proust’s madeleine cake dipped in tea if you want to be transported back to 1971.

The sound of Santana III is an ever-changing blend of Latin rhythms (five percussionists are listed in the credits: Michael Shrieve, José Areas, Mike Carabello, Rico Reyes and Thomas "Coke" Escovedo), the R&B horns of Tower of Power, and a solid rock core including two outstanding lead guitarists. This is the only album featuring Carlos Santana and the then-teenage prodigy Neal Schon together; Schon turned down an offer to play with Eric Clapton in Derek and the Dominoes in order to record with Santana.

The original release of Santana III included nine tracks: "Batuka," "No One to Depend On," "Taboo," "Toussaint L’Overture," "Everybody’s Everything," "Guajira," "Jungle Strut," "Everything’s Coming Our Way," and "Para Los Rumberos." The cuts are long (five of the nine are five minutes or longer) and heavy on the interplay among instruments; the vocals often seem like another instrument in the ensemble rather than solos backed by instruments. Disc 1 of the Legacy Edition also includes four bonus tracks: the single version of "No One to Depend On" plus previously unreleased studio recordings of "Gumbo," "Folsom Street – One," and "Banbeye."

The second CD includes 11 tracks from a concert recorded live on July 4, 1971, in San Francisco at the legendary Fillmore West, introduced by promoter Bill Graham. Six of these tracks are released here for the first time, and the fact that some of the selections overlap with those of the first CD gives the listener a chance to compare different takes on the same material. Included on the second CD are "Batuka," "No One to Depend On," "Toussaint L’Overture," "Taboo," "Jungle Strut," "Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen," "Incident at Neshabur," "In a Silent Way," "Savor," "Para los Rumberos" and "Gumbo." | Sarah Boslaugh

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