Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Santana Caravanserai 1972

Sanatana's fourth album was a beauty. A fairly sharp departure in sound, it featured more jazz-rock fusion than the previous efforts, and was mostly instrumental, with only three songs with vocals.

The core band is still pretty much intact, although Tom Brown (bass) and Michael Carabello (congas) from the original outfit were replaced by this time, and Neal Schon (guitar) had been added on the previous record. After this one, Schon and Greg Rollie (organ) left to form Journey.

The first side plays as one long medley, and its 26 minutes fly by. Waves Within features Rollie's fabulous Hammond B3 organ, and the percussion is particularly well recorded. Song Of The Wind has some great Santana guitar, and All The Love In The Universe is a driving rocker that tries to disassemble itself in jazz-like fashion. With a fine vocal, and the band playing hot and tight, it rocks.  Doug Rauch's bass is a stand-out, as are the guitars and organ.

Side two opens with Future Primitive, a hot percussion workout between Jose Chepito Areas, James Mingo Lewis and Michael Shrieve. It's more of a song than a drum solo. Antonio Carlos Jobim's Stone Flower follows, and features plenty of hot guitar and ensemble playing. It has the more Latin feel of the earlier records, and Shrieve and Santana wrote lyrics for Jobim's melody. La Fuente Del Ritmo is a driving rocker with hot percussion and dueling guitars from Santana and Schon, and some fine electric piano from Tom Coster, who will replace Rollie on the next record, 1973's Welcome. The record ends with Every Step Of The Way, which begins as an airy, ethereal song that eventually explodes into a jazzy, nine-minute workout that features the entire band and more hot guitar.

As cohesive in sound as the debut, but this one holds up much better today. It may well be Santana's greatest moment, and it was certainly the last gasp from the original band. The band will especially miss Greg Rollie after this. It also happens to be extremely well recorded, and sounds amazing. It sold well, and clean vinyl copies show up in used record bins since the record was too jazzy for many fans. Classic.

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