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Santana, Abraxas

Columbia 1970.


Rating System

5 Stars    Excellent

4 Stars    Very Good

3 Stars    Good

2 Stars    Fair

1 Star     Poor


Singing Winds, Crying Beasts
Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen
Oye Como Va
Incident At Neshabur
Se A Cabo
Mother's Daughter
Samba Pa Ti
Hope You're Feeling Better
El Nicoya
*Bonus Tracks on the Expanded Edition, Live From The Royal Albert Hall; *Se A Cabo, *Toussaint L'Overture, *Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen

Santana Musicians

Carlos Santana, Lead Guitar and Vocal
Gregg Rolie, Keyboard and Vocal
Dave Brown, Bass Guitar
Mike Shrieve, Drums
Jose "Chepito" Areas, Timbales and Conga
Mike Carabello, Conga



Deservedly, Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen, Oye Como Va and Samba Pa Ti get the airplay from DJs and ink from rock critics. However, one of the most profound statements Santana, as a group, has ever made is Incident at Neshabur.

About a minute into the piece Rolie delivers a compelling solo on his Hammond B3 as the percussionists, Shrieve, Carabello and Areas set a furious pace. Shrieve really works his high-hat during Rolie’s solo. Next up is Carlos whose solo continues for a while at the same pace.  He presents something new to Santana fans... a jazz improvisational style solo. He climbs and meanders before spiraling down to a slow romantic tempo. The slow segment of Incident at Neshabur imparts some of Carlos’s most elegant work. The sustained notes alone must be counted among the most beautiful in the history of electric guitar.  


Abraxas Poster

Abraxas Poster

Interestingly, Incident at Neshabur was originally recorded during the Santana I sessions at, Pacific High Studios, but held and released on Abraxas. Rolie says, "Incident at Neshabur was one of my favorite things. We did time changes, colors, and things that musically were very sophisticated. It was a perfect combination of Horace Silver and Big Black, with Aretha Franklin singing that Burt Bacharach song, ‘This Guy’s In Love With You’ we’d combine things we had a passion for."

On the multi-media CD-ROM, A History of Santana: the River of Color and Sound, published by the Graphix Zone, in 1996, Carlos explains that the inspiration for Samba Pa Ti came to him while in New York City. There was a man outside his window who was wrestling with himself over which to put into his mouth, the bottle of booze in his back pocket or the saxophone he was holding. Samba Pa Ti first came to Carlos as a poem. He put music to the poem, and it became a Santana instrumental classic. Carlos states that women from all over the world have shared with him that they got pregnant to Samba Pa Ti.

Abraxas was well received, the critics and the fans loved it. Released in October of 1970, it rose to the number one spot on the Billboard charts where it remained for six weeks. It was one of the best selling albums of 1971 and was on the Billboard chart for a total 88 weeks. Many consider Abraxas as Santana’s crowning achievement.

Gregg Rolie shares the following. "We took a little more time and went after a better sound quality on this album. "Incident at Neshabur" was recorded for the first album, but Fred Catero mixed it to sound like it was recorded at the same time as the rest of "Abraxas". I sang "Black Magic Woman" one time through with no overdubs. While Playing "Samba Pa Ti", Carlos played so hard that his earphones came off. He continued on, even after he couldn’t really hear the rest of the music anymore. Amazing! This is still my favorite album."  

Although there was much more music ahead for Santana the band and Carlos, on solo projects, for Santana as a group, Abraxas was their masterpiece. Five Stars. GG

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