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Tuesday, 26 July 2016
"Caravanserai" by SANTANA (2003 Columbia/Legacy CD Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...
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"...Just In Time To See The Sun..."
The Latin-Rock of SANTANA took the world by
storm back in the day - aided and abetted by a soaring appearance at the
legendary Woodstock festival mere weeks before their debut appeared in
September 1969 on Columbia Records in the USA and CBS Records in good old
Blighty (see my review for "Santana: The Woodstock Experience").
September 1970's magisterial "Abraxas" soared to No. 1 in September
1970 and "Santana III" hit the top stop too in October of 1971.
But after patience stretching wig-outs with
John McLaughlin and Buddy Miles in-between proper Santana studio albums -
somehow the 'fizz' had gone off their sales by the time this deeply gorgeous
and swirling Jazz Fusion LP arrived in October 1972. Even its eye-catching and
aesthetically pleasing gatefold cover of far-away deserts and sun-drenched
landscapes failed to get the public into a buying tizzy and it managed a more
humble No. 8 on the US charts (No. 6 in the UK) compared to the genre-busting
heights of its two predecessors.
But over the decades it's become a stone flower
'classic'. The trippy and largely instrumental "Caravanserai" has
always been a fan's album – a less commercial affair than before and a sign of
Carlos not wanting to rest of his laurels and stretch out musically – even if
it meant fracturing his hugely successful band and the formula that won them
those gold-discs. In fact I'd argue that in a long and amazing career that
still clocks up huge sales to this day (2016) – their fourth studio set is
something of an 'overlooked' nugget. And more importantly Bob Irwin and Vic
Anesini's stunning remaster of it for Columbia has only made me slaver all over
"Caravanserai" yet again. Here are the waves within (man)...
UK released October 2003 -
"Caravanserai" by SANTANA on Columbia/Legacy 511128 2 (Barcode
5099751112822) is a straightforward CD Remaster of the 1972 album and plays out
as follows (51:33 minutes):
1. Eternal Caravan Of Reincarnation
2. Waves Within
3. Look Up (To See What's Coming Down)
4. Just In Time To See The Sun
5. Song Of The Wind
6. All The Love In The Universe
7. Future Primitive [Side 2]
8. Stone Flower
9. La Fuente Del Ritmo
10. Every Step Of The Way
Tracks 1 to 10 are their fourth studio album
"Caravanserai" - released October 1972 in the USA on Columbia KC
31610 and November 1972 in the UK on CBS Records S 65299. Produced by CARLOS
SANTANA and MICHAEL SHRIEVE - it peaked at No. 8 in the USA and No. 6 in the UK
The 10-leaf foldout inlay has excellent liner
notes from HAL MILLER with quotes from original Producer Michael Shrieve – the
'Metaphysical Meditations' quotation that was on the inner gatefold of original
vinyl LPs as well as track-by-track musician credits and a half decent colour
representation of that gorgeous artwork. Even the Columbia CD matches the
original LP label and there’s a picture of that distant camel train beneath the
see-through CD tray.
But the big news is a new BOB IRWIN and VIC ANESINI
CD Remaster. These guys did the transfers at Sony’s Studios in New York and
ANESINI in particular is a name I've sung the praises of before. He’s handled
very prestigious SONY catalogue – Elvis Presley, Simon & Garfunkel, The
Byrds, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Carole King, Janis Joplin, Blood, Sweat & Tears,
Nilsson, Paul Simon, Mountain, Lou Reed, Roy Orbison, Santana, Mott The Hoople
and The Jayhawks to name but a few. Clean – full of presence and warmth – this
thing is a joy to listen too – and after years of clicking through quite
passages of tinkling cymbals and rattling congas on my trusty old vinyl
original – the audio here is a welcome revelation...
"Caravanserai" opens with a
crickets-chirping fade in – Percussion provided by James Mango Lewis and Carlos
Santana as Hadley Caliman does those strangulated but Sahara-atmospheric
Saxophone notes – Neal Schon (later with Journey) handling the Guitar. Then
suddenly we get Tom Rutley on Acoustic Bass and Wendy Haas giving it some
echoing electric Piano and we’re off into a different set of Santana waters.
That segues into "Waves Within" where Carlos takes over the Lead
Guitar and we become immediately aware of another integral hero of the band -
Gregg Rolie's presence on Organ anchoring the whole soaring fusion piece.
Things Funk Up big time with "Look Up (To See What's Coming Down)" -
like Carlos has discovered his inner Sly Stone - a fantastic groove with the
whole band cooking. Introducing unconvincing vocals into "Just In Time To
See The Sun" kind of ruins an otherwise great groove - but all that is
that is flattened by what has to be an all-time fave-crave for Santana fans -
the magical "Song Of The Wind". Rolie's organ fades in six-minutes of
sublime guitar work by the duo of Santana and Schon with stunning rhythm
section support coming off James Lewis and Mike Shrieve. Even now it makes me
weepy and reminds me of why I love Santana so much - that 'sound' he gets when
he plays and really lets go. Side 1 ends with the Carlos Santana/Neil Schon
penned "All The Love Of The Universe" where they and Mingo Lewis
share vocals on probably the most 'boppy' number on the album (not the best in
Side 2 opens with the spacey "Future
Primitive" - floating keyboard notes are soon joined by a frantic Bongo and
Conga combination from Jose "Chepito" Areas and James Mingo Lewis -
whacking those percussion instruments like they're playing live at a festival
and the crowd are cheering them on. Latin superstar Antonio Carlos Jobim wrote
"Stone Flower" - the most overtly Latin song on the LP and a fabulous
groove of guitars and keyboards. James Mango Lewis penned another fave of mine
- the frenzied Salsa and Latin rhythms of "La Fuente Del Ritmo" - all
musicians mixing perfectly with Carlos and Neal on dual guitars as James Mingo
Lewis keeps it anchored with Acoustic Piano while Tom Coster solos on the
Electric Piano - bit of a showstopper this. It ends with "Every Step Of
The Way" - eight and half minutes of the Santana Band building up and then
letting rip on everything - Guitars, Keyboards, Flute and Percussion. It's sexy
and slightly dangerous rhythms are a perfect way to finish the LP...and along
with "Song Of The Wind" is another instrumental highlight on an album
that contains many...
In some respects it's kind of impossible to
categorize "Caravanserai" - but isn't that cool – I loved it then for
that and I love it still.
In the eternal caravan of repackaging (if
you'll forgive the pun) - I'm quite certain we'll get yet another format in the
future - another way to squeeze even more nuances out of this tasty
desert-dish. But in the meantime - Legacy's superb CD Remaster of
"Caravanserai" is available online for peanuts - cheaper than a camel
train nosebag and highly unlikely to spit on you when things get a little hot
under the collar as you air-guitar around your living room with a tennis
Enter here for the 'bosom of infinite joy'
people...and as my wife well knows... I’m up for the 'bosom of infinite'