Not very different from Frank's notes by the way...
Talking about a diverse album, Santana 4 is one.
Diverse could have been a very positive term, but in this case it’s not only silver and gold.
Percussionwise it’s a pretty weak album. Carabello’s input has no bite at all. Obligatory and often hardly noticeable. Timbales are too much on the background. Was Karl in a basement whilst recording?
Carlos's guitar playing is predictable at times, good in certain tracks. I do like Neal's playing, especially in the instrumentals. Michael Shrieve did a good job, apart from Freedom in your minf.
The album can in fact be divided into two categories:
a. The non-instrumentals (apart from Blues Magic (that should have been one) and including All Aboard that is completely different from the other ones.
b. The “real” instrumentals
Yambu doesn’t really stick to your mind. The album could have used a stronger opener. Neither flesh nor fish.
Shake it. Reminds me of Led Zeppelin’s Black Dog, especially the vocal part. Very mediocre rocksong and very unlike Santana.
Leave me alone……one ear in, the other out as we say in the Netherlands. Nothing special. Could have been a track from a Rolie solo-album. Nice solo by Neal.
From the two Isley contributions I really like Love makes the world go round. Powerful vocals from the man with the thin voice. You love it or hate it. The song has a great groove and in my opinion an asset to Santana’s live repertoire.
The other Ronald Isley song, Freedom in your mind, is basically not that bad but in my opinion ruined by a drumsound you only find in computerized eighties-songs. Michael, what on earth happened???
The vocal ad libs by Carlos are weird and the last part of those brings back memories of the live versions of Jingo in the 80s and 90s. The guitar parts at the end are great.
Choo choo is one of the worst songs of the last albums and that says it all. Boring rhythm, alsmost discolike. Also embarrassing in regard to the lyrics: “ I want you to play with my electric train. Choo Choo”. Gimme a break.
Anywhere you want to go has already been discussed. Instrumentally predictable and the song itself is simply not good enough, apart from the creepy lines at the start.
Caminando kicks off with some “plastic keyboards”, Rolie’s spooky voice and then the a riff that refers to Led Zeppelin’s How many more times. The rest is a very mediocre rocksong with a really awful keyboard part.
Come as you are is one of the poorest tracks. Trying to weave Caribbean/South American influences the track almost lacks everything. The Hammond and guitar solos prevent it from immediate shelving.
Some of the instrumentals are awesome. Having said this it’s interesting to have a look at the compositions itself.
Fillmore East and Forgiveness, both great songs, are probably Schon-penned soundscapes without a real songstructure. Almost improvisations but beautiful ones. They might have been included on Neal’s solo-albums. The lyrics of Forgiveness are…..ehm…….ok.
All aboard is a short and powerful (hard)rock instrumental, probably composed by Neal. Not bad but an odd man out between the other instrumentals.
Suenos, starting off with the James Bond theme, is a Europa-like composition with a typical built-up for quite a few of Carlos’s instrumentals. Acoustic intro and then a beautiful melody both acoustically and electrically. Pity that the keyboards are a bit cheesy at times.
You and I is a great song with a built-up that can be compared to Suenos a little. It even reminded me a bit of Revelations during the first minute and Flor d’Luna later on. The actual theme has much more power in it than Suenos, though. Probably written by Carlos if you take the relatively small part that Neal plays into account. This song might have lasted a bit longer.
Echizo has remained the superb powerful instrumental since the first time they played it in Holmdel in 2015. Could have been a track from the Brothers album and that is meant to be a compliment.
Blues Magic was an instrumental when it was first played at the same Holmdel show. I’d hoped they’d kept it that way. The lyrics don’t add too much. But it’s a good bluesy track with a mysterious atmosphere.
16 songs and about 8 of them really appeal to me, 4 are inbetweenies and 4 are not good at all. Remarkably enough almost all of the gems are instrumentals. It seems to me that the songs have been divided between Carlos, Neal and Gregg. Rolie’s contributions for the bigger part (most probably) result in the fact that Santana 4 will not be remembered as a real highlight in Santana’s career, but is far better than I'd expected.
As for the 8 great tracks….cherish them!
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