Sunday, May 29, 2011

The #73 Album of All-Time in the Rock Era--"Abraxas" by Santana

Abraxas was the second album from Santana.  The album first entered the chart at #8 on October 10, 1970.  It quickly rose to #2 and it spent six weeks at #1 and an impressive 10 weeks at #2.  It initially gave way to Led Zeppelin III but hung around to overtake that album.  Those are the kinds of things to look for to see which are the strongest albums.  Being #1 is meaningless unless you know the competition.  Abraxas also held off Close To You by the Carpenters, Pendulum by CCR and All Things Must Pass from George Harrison.  Even after surrendering it's #1 position to three other albums 19 weeks later, Abraxas was still in the Top 10.  The album remained in the Top Ten for 30 weeks and was on the chart for 88 weeks.  To date, it has sold five million copies.  Abraxas has a solid 9.05 Track Rating*.

This is such a polished album it's hard to believe that it was only the second by the San Francisco group.  Carlos Santana's guitar was already singing up a storm.  At this time, the group also featured Gregg Rolie on keyboards before he would join Journey and he shines on the album as well.  Of course "Black Magic Woman" is one of the Top Songs of the Rock Era* and "Oye Coma Va" was another huge hit.

But I want to bring out the other tracks that give the album its great flavor.  "Incident at Neshabur" is an amazing instrumental showcasing the group's musicianship.  Santana brought the Latin influence to pop long before the craze of the last decade, but this track has jazz elements as well and gives Carlos the freedom to play away.  "Se a Cabo" is another instrumental where the band is not limited in its quest to jam away and "Samba Pa Ti" slows the tempo down, allowing Carlos to play a beautiful guitar solo.  

1.  "Singing Winds, Crying Beasts" (Carabello) --4:51
2.  "Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen" (Green, Szao) --5:19
3.  "Oye Como Va" (Puente) --4:17
4.  "Incident at Neshabur" (Gianquinto, Santana) --4:57
5.  "Se a Cabo" (Areas) --2:51
6.  "Mother's Daughter" (Rolie) --4:26
7.  "Samba Pa Ti" (Santana) --4:45
8.  "Hope You're Feeling Better" (Rolie) --4:11
9.  "El Nicoya" (Areas) --1:29

At the time of Abraxas, Santana consisted of Carlos Santana, in the top elite of all-time guitar players, Gregg Rolie on keyboards and lead vocals, David Brown on bass, drummer Michael Shrieve, Jose "Chepito" Areas on percussion, conga and timbales and Mike Carabello on percussion and conga. 

Additional help on the album came in the form of Rico Reyes on percussion and vocals, Albert Gianquinto, who played piano on the great instrumental "Incident at Neshabur", Steven Saphore on tabla and Victor Gonzalez on bass. 

The album was recorded from April 17 to May 2, 1970 at Wally Heider Recording Studio in San Francisco.  Carlos Santana assisted Fred Catero with production of Abraxas.  John Fiore was the Engineer.  Robert Venosa did the artwork and graphic design of the album.  It was released in September of 1970 on Columbia Records.

At #73 for the Rock Era, Abraxas, from Santana.

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