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Pop/Rock - Released September 7, 1987 | Columbia

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Shango is notable for featuring the return, in the role of co-producer and co-songwriter, of original Santana keyboardist Greg Rolie. The main producer, however, was Bill Szymczyk (James Gang, Eagles), who gave Santana an unusually sharp rock sound resulting in two more hit singles, "Hold On" (Number 15), and "Nowhere to Run" (Number 66), although the band once again slipped below the Top Ten and gold-selling status, with the album peaking at only Number 22, and even this was the highest Santana would get until Supernatural in 1999. ~ William Ruhlmann
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Pop - Released July 10, 2014 | Columbia - Legacy

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Rock - Released April 29, 2014 | Columbia - Legacy

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Pop/Rock - Released April 29, 2014 | Columbia - Legacy

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Rock - Released April 29, 2014 | Columbia - Legacy

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Pop/Rock - Released October 15, 2013 | Columbia - Legacy

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Pop/Rock - Released June 20, 1994 | Columbia

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Borboletta was the first new Santana band studio album in 11 months and the group's sixth overall. Once again, individual credits were listed for each song. The main problem was that the band seemed to be coasting; Carlos turned in the usual complement of high-pitched lead guitar work, and the percussionists pounded away, but the Santana sound had long since taken over from any individual composition, and the records were starting to sound alike. That, in turn, started to make them inessential; Borboletta spent less time on the charts than any previous Santana album. ~ William Ruhlmann
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Rock - Released September 22, 1992 | Columbia - Legacy

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Pop/Rock - Released April 15, 1991 | Epic

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Freedom marked several reunions in the Santana band, which was now a nonet. In addition to Carlos, the band consisted of percussionists Armando Pereza, Orestes Vilato, and Raul Rekow; returning drummer Graham Lear; bassist Alphonso Johnson; returning keyboardist Tom Coster, keyboardist Chester Thompson, and, on lead vocals, Buddy Miles, who had made a duet album with Santana 15 years before. Credited as an "additional musician" was keyboard player Greg Rolie, an original member. The music also marked a return from the hyper-pop sound of Val Garay on Beyond Appearances to a more traditional Santana Latin rock style. Thus, Freedom was a literal return to form, but, unfortunately, not to the quality of early Santana albums. And the group's commercial decline continued, with the LP getting to only Number 95. ~ William Ruhlmann
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Pop/Rock - Released October 3, 1988 | Columbia

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After teaming up with Herbie Hancock for the jazz-flavored The Swing of Delight album, Carlos Santana reentered the pop/rock realm with the rest of his band for 1981's Zebop!. He still managed to include a little bit of his famed Latino sound into a few of the tracks ("E Papa Re," "American Gypsy"), albeit only slightly, but Zebop!'s overall feel is that of commercial rock, with the guitar arriving at the forefront through most of the cuts. Santana does a marvelous job at covering Russ Ballard's "Winning," taking it to number 17 on the charts, while "The Sensitive Kind" is built around the same type of radio-friendly structure yet it stalled at number 56. Zebop!'s formula is simple, and all of the songs carry an appeal that is aimed at a wider and more marketable audience base, with "Changes," "Searchin," and "I Love You Much Too Much" coming through as efficient yet not overly extravagant rock & roll efforts. The album's adjustable rhythms and accommodating structures kept the band alive as the decade rolled over, peaking at number 33 in the U.K. but cracking the Top Ten in the United States, which eventually led to Zebop! going gold. Actually, "Winning" followed in the same footsteps as Santana's last couple of Top 40 singles in "You Know That I Love You" from 1980 and "Stormy" from 1979. Shango, the album that came after Zebop!, gave them another hit with "Hold On," sung by bandmember Alex Ligertwood. ~ Mike DeGagne
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Pop/Rock - Released October 1, 1985 | Columbia

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Since he had joined Santana in 1972, keyboard player Tom Coster had been Carlos Santana's right-hand man, playing, co-writing, co-producing, and generally taking the place of founding member Greg Rolie. But Coster left the band in the spring of 1978, to be replaced by keyboardist/guitarist Chris Solberg and keyboardist Chris Rhyme. Despite the change, the band soldiered on, and with Inner Secrets, they scored three chart singles: the disco-ish "One Chain (Don't Make No Prison)" (#59), "Stormy" (#32), and a cover of Buddy Holly's "Well All Right" (#69), done in the Blind Faith arrangement. (There seems to be a Steve Winwood fixation here. The album also featured a cover of Traffic's "Dealer.") The singles kept the album on the charts longer than any Santana LP since 1971, but it was still a minor disappointment after Moonflower, and in retrospect seems like one of the band's more compromised efforts. ~ William Ruhlmann
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Rock - Released January 1, 1993 | Island Records

For their third live album, Santana introduced a new bass player, Myron Dove, and added guitarist Jorge Santana (Carlos Santana's brother), and singer Vorriece Cooper to bring the band up to nine members. Adopting the mantle of Bob Marley, the band played "Esperando," which borrowed Marley's characteristic audience chant. Much of the album, however, is given over to repeating Santana's earliest hits -- "No One to Depend On," "Black Magic Woman," "Soul Sacrifice," -- which should please the band's new record label (it's always good to have versions of the hits in your catalog), but which makes the album inessential for fans. Sacred Fire spent one week at number 181 in the charts, the worst performance ever for a Santana album. ~ William Ruhlman
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Pop/Rock - Released October 22, 2002 | Columbia - Legacy

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Pop/Rock - Released May 11, 2012 | Starfaith

While 1999's best-selling Supernatural brought Carlos Santana many new listeners, Shaman followed the same formula -- pairing his guitar with pop vocalists -- with diminishing returns. Santana tries to undo the damage on Shape Shifter, the debut from his Starfaith label. All but one of these 13 cuts is an instrumental. Producing and co-producing every track, he tries reinvention toward what he has always believed himself to be: an innovative and exploratory guitarist. While there's no denying his signature tone and style are intact , many of these tunes are merely simple vamps with sometimes fiery guitar improvisation in a variety of stylistic contexts. Standouts include the opening title track, a tight-- if repetitive--jam. It contains powerful soloing and riffing. Chester Thompson's B-3 groove pushes the song from inside; his solo is as imaginative as Santana's. "Nomad," a melodic rock number with an authentically emotive guitar solo, showcases his still breathtaking pyrotechnics. The brief, lyrical "Metatron," as beautiful as it is, owes more than a little of its melody to Bob Dylan's "Is Your Love in Vain." "Angelica Faith" teases longtime fans by employing the first three notes of "Samba Pa Ti" before moving in another balladic direction. "Never the Same Again" is a blissed-out, midtempo groover where Santana's playing (on nylon-string and electric guitars) cops melodic ideas from Marvin Gaye's "What's Goin' On," and restructures moments from his own "Song of the Wind." With its hip-hop, snare and hi-hat shuffle, it's a contender for a contemporary jazz single. "Macumba in Budapest" is a Latin jam with excellent percussion from Raul Rekow and Karl Perazzo. The Latin tinge follows on "Eres La Luna," with fine vocals by Andy Vargas and Tony Lindsay. "Ah Sweet Dancer," a piano and guitar duet, closes the set; it's one of a pair featuring son Salvador Santana on keyboards. Shape Shifter is far from perfect. Its lack of more compelling compositional ideas and ham-fisted production problems are balanced by the fact that Santana is not coasting on his rep; he's trying to play the hell out of the guitar again. While ambition and reality are different things, any step away from the music of last decade would be an improvement -- and Shape Shifter delivers that. ~ Thom Jurek
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Pop/Rock - Released February 26, 1991 | Columbia

Recorded in Japan in July 1973, this massive, three-LP live album was available outside the United States in 1974 but held back from domestic release in the U.S. It features the same "New Santana Band" that recorded Welcome, and combines that group's jazz and spiritual influences with performances of earlier Latin rock favorites like "Oye Como Va." ~ William Ruhlmann

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Santana in the magazine
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