Best Instrumentals, Vol. 2

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The second collection of Santana instrumentals, like the first, rounds up vocal-less music spanning his tenure at Columbia, in this case 1971-1989. It fills in some obvious missing pieces to that compilation, like "Jingo," along with uncovering deep catalog selections most listeners might not own, or more likely forgot about. The music is arranged thematically as opposed to chronologically, lending a fluid flow as it shifts from the quieter Latin-tinged tracks to the more incendiary guitar/percussion showpieces, closing with the electrifying trilogy from Santana 3 of "Toussaint L'Overture," "Batuka," and "Jungle Strut." What's here is acceptable, but the quickie quality to the packaging (no liner notes, personnel listing, or original album reference for the songs, plus a complete lack of pictures and cheap graphics), abbreviated playing time (surely the compilers could have found 20 more minutes to beef up the disc), and the puzzling exclusion once again of "Incident at Neshabur," one of the band's early instrumental concert highlights (also absent from the first volume), is troubling. There's little live music save for an applause-free "Free Angela" from Lotus, and although some of these songs are difficult to find, there are no rarities or previously unissued cuts. Maybe they will end up on future editions. As it stands, The Best Instrumentals Vol. 2, along with Vol. 1, makes an adequate but hardly essential addition to the bulging Santana catalog of reissues. It effectively takes us on a time trip connecting the dots of the guitarist's various bands, sounds, and styles while showcasing his always electrifying guitar work. It's a satisfying compilation, yet one that, with a little more care and thought, could have been better.

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