Welcome gets four, not five, stars for this reason only: it is the second part of what is, in retrospect, a three-album documentation of Carlos Santana's period with the guru Sri Chinmoy. This period began with Caravanserai, followed by Welcome then Borboletta. To appreciate Santana's growth during this period, one must take these three albums together as a single body of work (and Columbia should consider a special release in which they are packaged that way).
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.