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Rock - Released September 23, 1970 | Columbia - Legacy

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The San Francisco Bay Area rock scene of the late '60s was one that encouraged radical experimentation and discouraged the type of mindless conformity that's often plagued corporate rock. When one considers just how different Santana, Jefferson Airplane, Moby Grape, and the Grateful Dead sounded, it becomes obvious just how much it was encouraged. In the mid-'90s, an album as eclectic as Abraxas would be considered a marketing exec's worst nightmare. But at the dawn of the 1970s, this unorthodox mix of rock, jazz, salsa, and blues proved quite successful. Whether adding rock elements to salsa king Tito Puente's "Oye Como Va," embracing instrumental jazz-rock on "Incident at Neshabur" and "Samba Pa Ti," or tackling moody blues-rock on Fleetwood Mac's "Black Magic Woman," the band keeps things unpredictable yet cohesive. Many of the Santana albums that came out in the '70s are worth acquiring, but for novices, Abraxas is an excellent place to start. ~ Alex Henderson
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Pop/Rock - Released June 15, 1999 | Columbia - Legacy

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Pop - Released March 26, 1976 | Columbia - Legacy

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Pop/Rock - Released February 18, 2011 | Columbia - Legacy

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Rock - Released September 1, 1971 | Columbia - Legacy

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Pop/Rock - Released October 1, 1974 | 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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Pop/Rock - Released October 1, 1978 | 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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Pop/Rock - Released April 29, 1981 | 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 September 6, 1983 | 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/Rock - Released April 14, 1987 | Epic

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Rock - Released June 7, 2019 | Concord Records

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Exactly half a century after his debut, and his brilliant performance at Woodstock festival where he made a name for himself, Santana has once again turned to Africa, the original source of so many music genres. Indeed, let’s not forget that blues originated from slave songs and served as a foundation for jazz, rock and soul, among others. Produced by Rick Rubin, this album was almost entirely recorded in live conditions, without retouching and without a safety net, an exercise he’s particularly fond of. Not to mention the man’s love for improvisation, and his virtuosity allows him a great deal of audacity. Along with singer Buika and his wife Cindy Blackman on the drums, Santana once again blends the jazz he loves with the Latin rhythms and rock reflexes that live in him. The first track on Africa Speaks serves as a perfect introduction to this celebration of sounds that seem straight out of the mists of time. His voice speaks more than it sings, and he promptly gets a response from his backing singers. Then the album suddenly becomes funkier, with titles like Oy Este Mi Canto or Yo Me Lo Merezco, and outright blazing on the tropical Breaking Down The Door with its blustering brass, reminding the listener that it only takes a few boat-rides to cross over from Africa to South America. If the main idea behind this project is to demonstrate that rock, soul, blues and jazz are but children of African music, the evidence is fairly conclusive. Every song and style blends together so perfectly, and invites us to let ourselves be carried away by the infectious warmth of this opus. © Christian Eudeline/Qobuz
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Rock - Released October 1, 1977 | Columbia - Legacy

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Santana, which was renowned for its concert work dating back to Woodstock, did not release a live album in the U.S. until this one, and it's only partially live, with studio tracks added, notably a cover of the Zombies' "She's Not There" (number 27) that became Santana's first Top 40 hit in five years. The usual comings and goings in band membership had taken place since last time; the track listing was a good mixture of the old -- "Black Magic Woman," "Soul Sacrifice" -- and the recent, and with the added radio play of a hit single, Moonflower went Top Ten and sold a million copies, the first new Santana album to do that since 1972 and the last until Supernatural in 1999. ~ William Ruhlmann
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Rock - Released October 11, 1972 | Columbia

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Rock - Released August 30, 1969 | Columbia - Legacy

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Before the arrival of Carlos Santana's eponymous band, the San Francisco rock scene drew the inspiration for its jam-oriented music mainly from blues, rock, and Eastern modalities. Santana added Latin music to the mix, forever changing the course of rock & roll history. On their groundbreaking debut album, the group mix Latin percussion with driving rock grooves. Santana's unique guitar style, alternately biting and liquid, vies with the multiple percussionists for the sonic focus. Unlike later efforts, Santana's first album features an abundance of loose, collective compositions based on a couple of simple riffs ("Jingo," "Soul Sacrifice"). This approach allows for Santana and his bandmates to flex their improvisational muscles to fine effect. The high-energy level on Santana is infectious -- the laid-back feel of other '60s San Francisco groups was clearly not for Carlos and co. ~ Rovi Staff
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Pop - Released September 25, 2007 | Arista

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Pop - Released July 9, 2014 | Columbia - Legacy

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Rock - Released February 5, 2019 | Concord Records

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Santana's debut for Concord records is pretty low key: an EP containing three new songs, along with edits of two of those tracks. It's intended as an amuse bouche before the album he recorded with Rick Rubin, "Africa Speaks", but this EP contains none of Rubin's signature back-to-basics moves. Recorded with producer Narada Michael Walden, it's slick and shimmering, existing just on the margins of jazz fusion. The presence of bassist Ron Carter on "Lovers from Another Time" underscores this connection, but the EP opens with "Do You Remember Me," ten minutes of jamming that's too mellow to be called epic. Santana picks up a bit with "In Search of Mona Lisa," which bops to a Bo Diddley beat and contains the only sung narrative of the three songs. It sticks out a bit like a sore thumb compared to the grace of "Lovers from Another Time," which benefits from its glossiness, making Santana and Carter appear to glide. For this track alone, In Search of Mona Lisa is worth a listen, but the other two songs are amiable enough to not be a distraction. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop/Rock - Released September 17, 2010 | Arista

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Pop - Released September 30, 2002 | Arista

Nobody could have predicted the success of the star-studded Supernatural in 1999, but it revitalized the career of Santana, plus Clive Davis, who cooked up the whole idea of the comeback in the first place. Given its blockbuster status, a sequel that followed the same blueprint was inevitable, which is exactly what 2002's Shaman is. If anything, there's even less Carlos Santana here, proving that he and Davis are among those that believe that Supernatural was a success because of Rob Thomas and "Smooth," not the typically tasteful, excellent guitar playing. And, no surprise, Thomas has a strong presence here even if he doesn't sing. He writes two songs, flexing his muscles as a neo-soul songwriter (not badly, either, on cuts sung by Musiq and Seal), and providing the template for all the guests here: they want to launch a new stage of their career, finding a wider audience. Outside of Seal (who has a comeback of his own to launch) and Placido Domingo (who does these things because he can), everybody here has hearts to win and something to prove, and they do a mixed job of it. P.O.D. falls on its face with the embarrassing "America," but Chad Kroeger far outshines anything he's done with a surprisingly subtle and soulful "Why Don't You & I," easily better than anything by Nickelback. But this points out the problem on the record -- each song is tailored to the strengths of the lead singer, not the strengths of Santana, who's left with piddly, forgettable instrumental interludes and playing endless lines beneath the vocal melodies. Who can blame him? It's the only chance he really gets to play on this album. On the whole, it holds together no better or no worse than Supernatural -- it's the same record, essentially. True, there wasn't anything as awful as "America" or the foolish aural press release "Since Supernatural," but there was nothing as joyous and wonderful as the Michelle Branch-sung "The Game of Love." Written by the team behind the New Radicals' modern pop classic "You Get What You Give," it's every bit as soaring melodic and irresistible; it may not be Santana -- it sounds even less like Santana than "Smooth" -- but it's perfect pop, the best pop single of 2002, for reasons that have nothing to do with Santana. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop/Rock - Released April 1, 1983 | Columbia

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Santana in the magazine
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