Classic Cuts (September 2014)


1970 saw the release of Santana’s second album Abraxas which followed on the heels of their magnificent self titled debut album the year before. With the blending of musical styles from rock, jazz, Latin, blues and salsa, they were a band that were totally different to those who had gone before.

Carlos Santana’s sustained distorted guitar work is the key to the credibility of the bands’ unlikely rock appeal. Keyboardist Gregg Rolie augments this unique sound along with David Browns’ appropriate bass grooves throughout whilst Michael Shrieve provides the busy drum patterns along side of Jose’ Areas and Mike Carabello on percussion congas, bongos and timbale’s.

Having recently performed to 300,000 people at Woodstock in August 1969, Sanatana were already a recognised force and subsequently Abraxas went to the top of the charts reaching number one on Billboard. From the opening bars of the first track Singing winds,crying beast the listener is enticed into anticipation with the build up of cymbals as the bass sets the rhythm for some subtle keyboard playing reminiscent of the Doors’ Riders In The Storm.

After nearly five minutes the song breaks into a masterful cover of Fleetwood Macs’ Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen. Oye como va  is a faster paced Latin rhythm with a very loose feel which is followed by Incident at Neshabur and has some really cool guitar from Carlos with a mix of jazz rock and blues whilst maintaining its’ psychedelic implication.

Se a cabo opens with bongos and congas setting the scene for what becomes an exotic piece of fusion with drifty guitar and organ driven by some amazing percussion. Mother’s Daughter is a more rock oriented track as is Hope You’re Feeling Better, both written by Rolie.

Samba pa ti separates the two Rolie tracks and is a very subtle piece of work with some very laid back soulful guitar. It’s the most laid back track one the album and it would be very easy to find yourself drifting  off to sleep, in fact it can get a little boring after the first minute or so. The album finishes with El Nicoya, a very Latin song both musically and lyrically. It has lashings of congas and exotic percussion which ends in a bit of an anti climax that leaves you feeling that there should have been a little bit more.

Abraxas is no Sgt. Pepper but it’s a great showcase of fusion between Latin, blues and rock with some really cool guitar improvisation, and certainly worthy of a place in your collection. If you find you have been converted, the two other notable Santana albums that should not be missed are the self titled 1969 album and Caravanserai from 1972.

Ray McGrotty is the owner/manager of Record City Collectables, 433 Nepean Highway, Frankston. Record City stocks a vast array of memorabilia, cassettes and vinyl, rare and unseen releases as well as current favourites. If you’d like to suggest a Classic Cut, drop him a line at