This album is jazz fusion, that was popularized by people like John McLoughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra and Chick Corea and Return to Forever. However, it still keeps Santana's latin influences.
This is a wonderful album of beautiful rhythms and sounds. My favorite track is Mother Africa, written by Herbie Mann. There is a great 11 minute duet between Santana and John McLoughlin. Love, Surrender and Devotion is great song with alternating male/female vocals.
Although this was a jazz fusion album, it even generated a hit single: When I Look Into Your Eyes. For some reason, DJ's always called the song "When I Look Into Your Eyes With Leon Thomas On Vocals". Like anyone had heard of Leon Thomas before this.
It is interesting that CBS Records has reissued this as part of their Legacy series. It is where they reissue the most important, classic jazz and blues albums from their vast library. There are some very formidable albums in this series including classics from Miles Davis and the SuperSessions from Al Kooper and Mike Bloomfield.
This CD contains one bonus track, Mantra. It is a wierd track of a repeated staccato organ riff. It isn't bad, but I don't think it is worth by the reissue for that track if you already have a copy of the original without that track. I think it is out of place and doesn't add anything to this album.Read more ›
If you liked "Caravanserai", you'll have no trouble listening to this album of mystical and spiritual tunes. Why this album had been out of print is beyond me.
Strings, marimba, male/female vocals and multiple keyboards (by Tom Coster and Richard Kermode) are tastefully and creatively employed on selected tracks. This was the most musically proficient Santana ensemble ever - drummer Maitreya Michael Shrieve spurs the groove and improvisations, and guitarist Mahavishnu John McLaughlin (with whom Santana recorded the previous year's "Love Devotion Surrender" album) guests on 'Flame-Sky'. Return To Forever members Joe Farrell-flute and Flora Purim-vocal are also featured on 'When I Look Into Your Eyes' and 'Yours Is The Light'. The album serenely concludes with the John Coltrane composition 'Welcome'. (one previously unreleased bonus track on this CD issue - the Santana/Shrieve/Coster composition 'Mantra'.)
In a similar vein from the following year 1974 is "Illuminations", co-credited to Devadip Carlos Santana and Turiya Alice Coltrane (Santana, McLaughlin, and Coltrane were disciples of Sri Chinmoy during this period). Featuring more jazz personnel such as McLaughlin, bassist Dave Holland and drummer Jack DeJohnette, it's the most avant-garde and challenging Santana album of all. Start your journey with "Welcome", then try "Lotus" . . .
The Caravanserai-Welcome-Borboletta triple play was a departure from the initial Santana incarnation that began with Santana's debut (Evil Ways, Jingo, etc.)and ended amid the tension and hard feelings that surrounded the recording of Santana III (Everybody's Everything, No One to Depend On, et. al.). The highlight of that debut period was Abraxas.
But unlike Caravanserai, Welcome and Borboletta (actually 4, 5, and 6 in the complete Santana discography), only one of the early Santana albums are today necessary, and that is, of course, Abraxas.
Not so Caravanserai, Welcome and Borboletta, and though they have never been champions in terms of numbers of albums sold, they collectively represent sustained vision and Santana's best work. Each are vital for those interested in Carlos Santana's career, one that would sputter soon thereafter (the music would flare to molten intensity at times as Amigos and Moonflower would prove). The result was a perplexing and maddening two-decade slump that did not end until the release of Supernatural, finally a full-force achievement in terms of artistic clarity and mature pop music vision.
One wonders if Carlos Santana will ever create as audaciously again.