Sunday, November 23, 2014

Santana, The #47 Artist of the Seventies*

From the moment they played "Soul Sacrifice" at Woodstock in 1969, music fans were captivated.

The group formed in San Francisco, California in 1967, originally as the Carlos Santana Blues Band.  Lead guitarist Carlos Santana, drummer Rod Harper, bassist David Brown, Gregg Rolie on lead vocals and organ, and Marcus Malone playing percussion were the original members.  Today, Latin rhythms are influential in popular music, but Santana was playing Latin music before it was "cool".  In many ways, they helped make it so.

Their story includes an example of why you never want to listen to just one person in pursuing your dreams.  When they first played at the Avalon Ballroom in 1967, promoter Chet Helms told the group they would never make it in San Francisco playing Latin fusion, and suggested that Carlos keep his day job washing dishes.

Well, think how deprived the world would have been if Carlos listened to Chet Helms.  Obviously, Helms knew about as much about music as a two-year old baby.  Two short years later, the world would eat up that music, with its incredible Latin percussion rhythms.  Carlos and the group persevered in pursuit of their dream, and boy did it pay off.

Prior to Woodstock, Santana recorded their debut album, and the release of their self-titled album shortly after Woodstock was perfect timing, taking advantage of the great reception they got there.

With that great foray into the music scene, expectations were high in 1970 for the follow-up, and Santana delivered.  The album Abraxas was a superb release, featuring a cover of the Fleetwood Mac song "Black Magic Woman", done in a way that songwriter Peter Green never could have imagined.  The song went to #4, and even that was highly underrated.  Had Billboard taken into account album sales of the #1 album, something they still don't do, "Black Magic Woman" easily would have been #1. (Please click the "Play" icon in the top left-hand portion of the video.)

Believe it or not, "Black Magic Woman" was the last Top 10 song the group would enjoy until 1999.  But stay with us--as we have said many times before, hits don't tell the whole story, especially concerning Santana.

The follow-up to that great song was "Oye Coma Va", #13 in both the U.S. and Australia.
Abraxas, the great album that it is, has now gone over the five-million mark in sales.  In addition to its hits, Santana became famous for great instrumental album tracks, featuring great jamming among its musicians.  Abraxas included three in particular that we want to feature.  The first is "Jingo".

"Samba Pa Ti" is another fan favorite from the album, and people in the Netherlands had the good taste to take the song to #11 there.

Another great instrumental on Abraxas is this one--"Incident At Neshabur" 

In 1971, Santana released the album Santana III, the last recorded with the Woodstock lineup.  The group was blessed at that time as two of the greatest guitarists in history, Carlos Santana and new member Neal Schon, traded guitar licks throughout the album. 

The single "Everybody's Everything" went to #12.
Santana released the single "No One To Depend On", at #36 one of The Top Unknown/Underrated Songs of the Rock Era*.
Santana III also went to #1 on the Album chart and sold over two million copies.  The album included another great instrumental--"Toussaint L'Overture" 

As mentioned above, the group underwent several changes prior to recording their fourth album Caravanserai.  Doug Rauch and Tom Rutley came in to replace David Brown on bass.  Armando Peraza was hired to pick up where percussionist Michael Carabello left off.  Schon and Rolie left to form the group Journey, with Tom Coster moving in for Rolie on keyboards.

Caravanserai has also achieved Platinum status, and it did it without the benefit of a hit.  Obviously, the group had attracted a legion of loyal fans by this point.  "Song Of The Wind" is a track that stands out on the album.

Santana released the album Welcome in 1973, which was the first in a period of experimentation by the group.  It eventually went Gold, but had far less sales and album rank (#25) than previous Santana releases.

The Greatest Hits compilation released in 1974 has now sold over seven million copies. 

The album Borboletta the following year, Amigos in 1976, and Festival in 1977 continued that trend; all went Gold but did not contain big worldwide hit songs.  The fact that Santana was without hits didn't mean that there weren't solid tracks on the albums.  We will feature this great song--"Europa (Earth's Cry Heaven's Smile)" from Amigos.  It landed at #6 in Switzerland.

Amigos was a solid effort from the band, a Top 10 album in the United States, France, Australia, New Zealand, Austria, and the Netherlands.  Another track worth checking out is "Carnaval" from Festival.

In 1977, the group released Moonflower, their most successful album since the lineup change.  It has now sold over two million copies in the U.S. alone and became the first album since Borboletta to crack the Top 10 in the U.K.  Moonflower contained a great remake of the Zombies' hit "She's Not There".

In 1978, Santana released the album Inner Secrets.  It featured two more solid remakes--"Well All Right"  made it to #16 in the Netherlands, but stopped at #69 in the U.S. 

"Stormy", the group's remake of the great Classics IV song, peaked at #32.

Santana released the album Marathon in 1979, which went Gold despite not containing any big hits.

Santana continued strong into the 80's, then make a monumental comeback with the album Supernatural in 1999.   Santana is still touring, so there's still time to witness first-hand the guitar wizardry that has captivated music fans for over four decades now.

Santana sold over 20 million records in the Seventies.  They had ten hits with one Top 10 song, but a score of great songs.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.