YEAR RELEASED: 1969
CHART ACTION: #4 US, #26 UK
SINGLES: Jingo (#56 US), Evil Ways (#9 US), Soul Sacrifice
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Those are the radio cuts.
LINEUP: Carlos Santana, Greg Rolie, David Brown, Michael Shrieve, Michael Carabello, Jose “Chepito” Areas
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Combining Latino rhythms and American rock music, Santana forges their own musical identity.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: This record was recorded a few months before Woodstock, but wasn’t released until the then unknown group played a dynamic set at that festival. Word of mouth grew about the performance, and the album debuted to an eager public.
What they got was a jam band that focused on combining traditional rhythms of Latin America, using congas and timbales as the driving percussive force, with rock and psychedelic music. Shrieve’s drumming complemented Carabello’s and Areas’ percussion and Brown locked in with them on bass. Rollie and Santana then used organ and guitar to color and sustain the songs. It was something new, and bold.
Being a jam band for the most part, their focus was on sounds, not songs. That’s the weakness of this album. They weren’t quite up to speed on individual songwriting, though their covers (the first two singles) were great.
The highlight is the closing cut, “Soul Sacrifice”. That was a hit at Woodstock, and on record it sounds just as great.
This album still sounds fresh today – not many groups as successfully fused those styles together.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: Bill Graham was the one who told the then Santana Blues Band to write some conventional songs to go with their jams.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, a couple. The latest has outtakes from the May recording sessions, outtakes from the original sessions in January 1969 and cuts from Woodstock.
GRADE: A-: A fantastic debut album that holds up to this day. The songwriting just was a bit behind the jamming.