Tuesday, 26 July 2016

"Santana: The Woodstock Experience" by SANTANA (2009 Columbia/Legacy 2CD with Vic Anesini Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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Sometimes you forget how good an album is. Always trumped by the artistic and commercial leap forward "Abraxas" their 2nd LP made in 1970 - Santana's self-titled debut is that astonishing thing - a great record that also introduces an entirely different kind of music - Latin Rock. And this clever tie-in with the iconic "Woodstock Festival" in 1969 gives me a good excuse to indulge yet again...

Released July 2009 - "Santana: The Woodstock Experience" by SANTANA on Columbia/Legacy 88697 48242 2 (Barcode 886974824220) is a 2CD set that lumps together the band's September 1969 debut album "Santana" (37:10 minutes) with a new disc - "Recorded Live At The Woodstock Music & Art Fair, Saturday, August 16, 1969". Both are in 5" oversized card repro sleeves - each with a different sepia-feel inner bag containing recorded details and reissue credits. There is also a gorgeous two-sided foldout poster with Santana live at the 1969 event on one side and a colour crowd shot on the other. It's all housed in an equally pretty card slipcase (see PS below for a list of all releases in this excellent commemorative series).

Disc 1 (37:10 minutes):
1. Waiting
2. Evil Ways
3. Shades Of Time
4. Savor
5. Jingo
6. Persuasion
7. Treat
8. You Just Don’t Care
9. Soul Sacrifice
Tracks 1 to 9 are their debut album “Santana” – released August 1969 in the USA on Columbia CS 9781 and November 1969 in the UK on CBS Records S 63015. The CD uses a VIC ANESINI remaster (he also mastered Disc 2 from 8-track tapes).

Disc 2 – "Recorded Live At The Woodstock Music & Art Fair, Saturday, August 16, 1969" (45:39 minutes):
1. Waiting
2. Evil Ways
3. You Just Don't Care
4. Savor
5. Jingo
6. Persuasion
7. Soul Sacrifice
8. Fried Neck Bones And Some Home Fries

The sexy and wild opening rhythms of "Waiting" sounds like music from another world - even now - while Carlos Santana's hair-raising guitar prowess soars over everything. It's followed by the hooky "Evil Ways" with Gregg Rolie giving it some vocal prowess. "Shades Of Time" and "Savor" allow Percussionists Jose Areas and Mike Carabello let rip while I've always thought "Treat" with its languid piano beginnings - guitar speed-up in the centre - back to Rolie's cool keyboard vibes to finish - is a masterpiece. The Funk-Rock of "You Just Don't Care" is great (love that guitar break at the end) while the LP finisher "Soul Sacrifice" has rightly been on countless "Best Of" CD anthologies across the decades.

Given its age and the circumstances in which it was recorded - the previously unreleased 'live set' from 16 August 1969 is fantastically good - way past crappy bootlegs of old. A month 'before' their debut album will hit the record shops and with ace fresh material in the bag - the band is on fire (even if the crowd seem stunned or tired). "Waiting", "Evil" and a screaming version of "Soul Sacrifice" - it's all so good. You also get to savour a song that is rarely if ever heard - "Fried Neck Bones And Some Home Fries" - very cool indeed. The whole thing is superb and Anesini has done a masterful job in the transfers.

You could obviously say that Sony has spotted yet another way to crassly milk a cultural event - but this release doesn't feel like that to me. It's beautifully done and a set of hip-shakers you need in your muddy living room real soon...

PS: the 5 titles in this series are:
1. Jefferson Airplane - uses the "Volunteers" album and has an 8-track live album recorded 17/8/69
2. Janis Joplin - uses the "I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama!" album and has a 10-track live album recorded 17/8/69
3. Santana - uses the "Santana" debut album and has an 8-track live album recorded Saturday 16/8/69
4. Sly & The Family Stone - uses the "Stand" album and has a 9-track live disc recorded 17/8/69

5. Johnny Winter - uses the "Johnny Winter" album and has an 8-track live disc recorded 17/8/69

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