Santana

S.F. Mission District: Live '69

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There are no specific details on this handsome foldout CD package as to precisely when and where these tracks were recorded; the seven-paragraph liner notes are just a perfunctory summary of Santana's early career. It's evident enough from listening, though, that the nine songs were recorded mostly or wholly at live performances during their early career, likely circa 1969. There's a good amount of non-Columbia material floating around from the outset of Santana, and without a handy authoritative discographical guide, it's hard to say if or how much of this material has appeared elsewhere (or on bootleg). If you're just hungry for some more early Santana without worrying about such details, though, this is actually a pretty good disc. The sound is good, though not great, and the performances are good to dynamic, including the early favorites "Soul Sacrifice," "Evil Ways," "Jingo," and "Persuasion," as well as less fully documented staple covers of their early sets like "Fried Neckbones and Some Home Fries" (mistitled as "Fried Neckbones at Home Fries" on the sleeve) and Albert King's "As the Years Go Passing By." It seems that some of this might actually be non-live studio or rehearsal cuts, like "As the Years Go Passing By," which unfortunately sounds as if the tape is speeding up at the very beginning. It's too bad this material isn't properly documented, but otherwise it's actually a recommended record for committed Santana fans, as is another Akarma collection of similar material from the era, Mother Earth.