Mojo Presents... An Introduction to Santana

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While this 15-cut compilation is meant to be an introduction to Santana, it doesn't go as far as either the Byrds or Miles Davis volumes, but it more than suffices as a primer on the power, magic, mystique, and unique vision Carlos Santana and his collaborators possessed in the late '60s through the mid-'70s. Beginning with the original band's "Jingo" and "Evil Ways," it tracks the complete union of Latin and Afro-Cuban rhythms with the sound of jam-based rock. There's the mysteriousness of Peter Green's "Black Magic Woman," brought to full voodoo fruition by the medley with "Gypsy Queen." Listening with fresh ears today, it's no wonder this was such a big hit. It is simply revelatory to hear the sheer funkiness of "No One to Depend On," with its driving soul and bass-driven R&B (as introduced by the Spencer Davis Group and Georgie Fame -- yeah, that's right, punters) meeting both Cuban music and the funk drive of Sly with the badass horns punching it up. From here there's the delve into spiritual jazz ("Love, Devotion and Surrender" with John McLaughlin) and samba-driven fusion with keyboardist Tom Coster jumping in for Gregg Rolie with vocalist Flora Purim and percussionist Airto, among others. The hits from the period, "Let the Children Play" and "Stone Flower," are here, as is the utterly gorgeous "Promise of a Fisherman." The only things lacking from the period are instrumental pieces like "Samba Pa Ti" (Abraxas) and "Song of the Wind" (Caravanserai). "Soul Sacrifice" isn't here either, but do listeners ever even need to hear that one again? In sum, this is a great little comp that gives as solid an overview as one can hope to get from a single disc.

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