A few years ago I wrote a brief review on this site of Carlos Santana’s ’70s and ’80s albums, with and without the like-named band. (No hyperlink – you’ll have to look for it yourself )
Now I can add a few details –
that shambolic album with Buddy Miles is now known to be not very “live” at all – a bootleg of the actual live performance is available on YouTube.
and, as murky as the audio is in places, it shows that had the tape machines been working optimally, a better album could have been assembled. Buddy still over-emotes in that manner we associate with cocaine users, but we have plenty of hot solo action to even things out – with Bob Hogins (the organist) and Hadley Caliman (wind instruments) emerging as the real stars of the show. And the repertoire encompasses allusions to everyone from the Staples Singers to Eric Clapton. Oddly, people are still having to debate which solos are by Neal Schon and which are by the leader – like I said before, anytime you hear the dreaded “volcano”, you know it’s Carlos.
As a bonus, the YouTube page above includes the contents of the fake live album (necessitated when the live recording was derailed by a combination of surface noise and power outages…a situation both Duke Ellington and George Shearing would have been familiar with).
Also on the Santana front, we’ve had a limited edition reconfiguration of the classic Lotus album – by some distance the best live record to bear his name. And the new edition “reveals” that despite being a triple vinyl set (in a very elaborate gatefold), the original was by no means a concert’s worth of material.
The real value of this extended edition is that it comes closer to presenting “history as it happened” – now we know where “Mr Udo” fits into the continuity, where “Savor” went, and that that spectacular long version of “Neshabur” was definitely an encore. The added material isn’t great, though. For anyone who wondered why Leon Thomas bothered to turn up (he only had one lead vocal on the original), this new version affirms that he had several spotlit moments…but also that they weren’t all that successful. As charming as it is to hear The New Santana Band tackle “The Creator Has A Master Plan” (a song Thomas co-wrote, lest we forget), and revive “Um Um Um” (no, it’s not Major Lance’s grating hit – it’s the “blues ever get you?” song hidden on Side Two of the Buddy Miles live album), both draw attention to Thomas’s tendency to sing off-key at the most inopportune moments. “Light Of Life” – it was a highlight of the Welcome album but it translates poorly to the stage (off-key vocals). But it’s not Thomas’s weakest moment – that’s “Japan”. One hopes the audience were just laughing inwardly, not seething. at this rather childish Hallmark-card portrait of their homeland (which, musically, as with virtually all Western attempts at japanoiserie, actually sounds Chinese).
Finally, on the Santana front, I feel the need to add another instalment of Seemingly Obvious Things Which Some People Don’t Know (Part #3).
Re: The budget price albums, mixing Pacific Studio demos and live tracks from the Fillmore and elsewhere.
Pacific Studio Tracks – The standalone Jingo, As The Years Go Passing By, Persuasion, El Corazon Manda (the track given the name Latin Tropical is just an alternate mix of the same performance), Fried Neckbones (the track given the name La Puesta Del Sol is just an alternate mix of the same performance), the backing track for Shades Of Time (mis-titled Let’s Get Ourselves Together, in reference to an abandoned lyric), Treat (the longer of the two tracks to be mis-titled Santana Jam), With A Little Help From My Friends, Ever Day I Have The Blues, the short version of Soul Sacrifice (which actually has the theme at either end). the backing track for Coconut Grove, and the one-chord jams Jammin’ Home and Hot Tamales
Unknown Origin Tracks – Travellin’ Blues, the incomplete jam given the title Acapulco Sunrise, the longer version of Soul Scarifice (which is still incomplete – you get the solos but not the theme), the Jam In G Minor (which some releases mis-title Santana Jam, again!!), the incomplete version of Rock Me Baby, and the incomplete jams given the titles Funky Piano and The Way You Do To Me
Live At The Fillmore Tracks – Evil Ways and the medley of Jingo/Shades Of Time (the latter still mis-titled Let’s Get Ourselves Together)
Red Herring – Just Ain’t Big Enough (someone out there has comfirmed who it is, all I know is that Santana has nothing to do with it)