Thursday, October 11, 2012

40 Year Itch: Carlos Goes Soul Searching

Rarely has an artist or a group made such a dramatic turn in the span of just one record. After three classic albums of Afro Cuban blues rock ( the last two hitting #1 on US charts), Carlos Santana apparently needed to stretch out both musically and spiritually. 
   Musically Carlos was getting into the fusion sounds of John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra .He also began following the teachings of McLaughlin's Indian guru Sri Chimnoy (who dubbed Carlos "Devadip" meaning "light of the lamp of the Supreme"). 

Despite warnings from CBS executive Clive Davis that he would sabotage the band's Top 40 potential, on Caravanserai Carlos led the band through a new set exploring jazz fusion with mixed results.

 The instrumentals still contain the trademark crystal clear guitar lines fronting the heavy rhythm sections and many Santana fans heap praise on songs like "Waves Within" and "Song of the Wind". However some of the singing sounds not just dated in 2012 but like "Gillette Commercial vocals" to Robert Christgau's ear way back in '72.

Caravanserai went platinum but the revolving door that was Santana began spitting out band members. Seattle keyboardist Greg Rolie and teenage guitar wunderkind Neal Schon both left but they landed on their feet. They founded a band called Journey.

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