Santana

Dance of the Rainbow Serpent

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Guitarist Carlos Santana continues to record music, but when contemplating his body of work, it's difficult not to telescope to the "vintage" 1969-1975 period, from first albums Santana and Abraxas through to Lotus. Dance of the Rainbow Serpent offers a well-rounded, three-disc overview of his career, but its the sultry Latin rhythms and stinging guitar of the early years -- captured on disc one, subtitled Heart -- that prove most invigorating. The obvious hits like "Evil Ways" and "Black Magic Woman" are all included of course, although these are scorched by the speedy pyrotechnics of the likes of "Toussaint Overture" from Lotus. The second disc, mistitled Soul, covers material that is, to be kind, bland and overproduced. Without the Latin edge, there's nothing to distinguish the contents from a hundred other MOR performers. Third disc Spirit is more diverse and satisfying; delving into the funkier examples of his later work, plus sessions with John Lee Hooker (including hit "The Healer") and previously unreleased material (including a workout with Living Color's Vernon Reid). In all, plenty here to chew on for fans of Santana's fluid, spiritual style -- with one of three discs left to gather.

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