Santana

Rynearson Stadium, Ypsilanti 25-05-75

  • AllMusic Rating
    8
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

This live document was originally broadcast as a King Biscuit Flower Hour radio program. The sound here is better than many other issues from this source over the years, but that's not the primary reason for interest in this outing. This show reveals the Santana band walking a tightrope between the early Latin rock sound that made them famous and the improvisational quality of the jazz fusion that underscored recordings such as Welcome, Caravanserai, and Borboletta -- the latter was the album they were supporting here. Gregg Rolie and Michael Shrieve had left by this time, and lineup changes were almost constant. But this is a smoking live group with some long-term main stays including percussionist Armando Peraza and keyboardist/vocalist Tom Coster. New lead vocalist and second keyboardist Leon Patillo is arguably better than anybody that ever fronted this unit save for Leon Thomas. Leon "Ndugu" Chancler, on drums, adds hard breakbeat funk inside a rock equation. Bassist David Brown is among the more underrated players of the instrument. The material, though most of it is classic Santana, is given fresh energy by two things: the guitarist's harder-edged, more adventurous style (after coming under the influence of John McLaughlin some years before), and the input of jazz and funk chops of these players, who also know how to make them rock. It's there in the opening moments of the medley of Gabor Szabo's "Gypsy Queen" and Peter Green's "Black Magic Woman," which give way immediately to a throttling read of Tito Puente's "Oye Como Va." The focus is deep, but the playing is extremely aggressive. After a brief pause introduced by Patillo, "Treat," from the band's debut album, gives way to a new collaboration between the singer and Carlos Santana entitled "Time Waits for No One." It's a roiling, souled-out, fiery groover that pushes everything into overdrive. Coster and Santana exchange wonderful solos and the interplay between Chancler and Peraza is off the hook. Left off here, unfortunately (and inexplicably since there was plenty of time left over), is the version of "Give and Take" from Borboletta, which was somewhat stilted in the studio, but here it's a killer jam with snarling, sexy, seductive vocals from Patillo and some of the guitarist's most monstrous riffing. The show picks up at a pile-driving "Incident at Neshabur," with Brown and Santana going head to head with killer breaks and fills by Chancler before Coster's labyrinthine Rhodes solo. The closer, a 20-plus-minute jam medley of "Savor" and "Soul Sacrifice," is introduced by a short but intense percussion/drum solo that moves the tune deep into acid funk terrain. Sonically this set is better than any bootleg version of the gig and really brings these stellar performances to life. This is an all but lost chapter in the Santana band's history, but it shouldn't be. This 1975 grouping lived up to the potential of its personnel, and embodied everything its leader sought to embrace. It stands with Lotus in terms of its kinetic quality.

blue highlight denotes track pick