Another Woodstock veteran today, the album of the day is “Abraxas” by Carlos Santana and his band, including keyboardist and lead vocalist Gregg Rollie, who would go on to form Journey with Neal Schon, another Santana alum. This album is rated as album #334 on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Carlos Santana is an iconic guitar player whose career has seen many regenerations commercially, fairly impressive for an artist who is never featured on lead vocals. It is this classic sound of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s that I connect with most naturally. On this album, some songs are instrumental only, some have vocals in English, and some have vocals in Spanish. I find myself most naturally drawn to the beautiful sounding Spanish vocals, they seem much more colorful and appealing. It reminds me of whenever I travel to Miami, one of my first steps is to turn the radio to one of several Spanish-only stations.
This album is well-known in the rock music genre, it features perhaps Santana’s two most prominent songs from that era, a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Black Magic Woman”, and a Tito Puente cover, “Oye Como Va”. As noted above, I particularly love the percussion and strong Mexican tone of “Oye Como Va”. I also like the mellow vibe of “Samba Pa Ti” and the high energy rhythm closer, “El Nicoya”.
I love how the modern musical world has embraced the greatness of Carlos Santana, as he also provides one of the few remaining timeless bridges back to the Woodstock era. A great album, and no surprise it was so well received and rated, then and now.