Santana – [Album]

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Eleven years ago, even some of the more devout fans in his base had written Carlos Santana off. When the guitarist performed at the twenty-fifth anniversary of Woodstock in 1994, his presence was totally overshadowed by the excitement surrounding the more modern acts on the roster that year and it had been seventeen years since Santana had released a gold record. While the guitarist could very likely have continued with a moderately successful world music career, the possibility of having a further career in pop seemed unlikely at best – but all that changed in 1999. On June 15, 1999 Santana released Supernatural and completely re-invigorated his career though; joined by a cast of toasted Top 40 icons (including Dave Matthews, Rob Thomas, Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean and Eric Clapton), the guitarist staked a new claim in the pop market. The album continues to exert an influence a decade later too – now boasting sales of over twenty-five million copies worldwide, Legacy Recordings has elected to see if that sales margin also comes with a sense of nostalgia.

What no one will expect is how well the songs continue to hold up ten years after the fact. While many of the pop stars that loaned their talents to Supernatural have long since faded from the public eye (be fair – when was the last time you cared what Rob Thomas or Everlast might be up to?), each of these songs still sounds as good and as rich as they did upon their first release. It's surprising too when one notices just how far against type some of the stars play in regards to the basic elements of their own established work. In this case, for example, Dave Matthews intentionally cedes control of “Love Of My Life” and mumbles in the backseat while Santana takes the wheel, Everlast takes an uncharacteristically stiff sibilance on the lugubrious “Put Your Lights On” and Thomas adds a dramatic southern drawl to his performance on “Smooth” for a little believable Tex-Mex seasoning. In each case, the guitarist and singers deliberately try to compliment each other in sound or style, putting the song first and leaving their egos at home every time.

The Legacy Edition re-issue of Supernatural also comes included with a healthy helping of outtakes, remixes and other unreleased material but, unlike such accoutrements that usually come along with these sets, the unreleased tracks included are actually really good – to the point that it's unfortunate some of them fell by the wayside upon the first release of the album. While some might have expected that the gold would be found in tracks like “Rain Down On Me” (which is actually better than Dave Matthews' other song which did make the original release) or Eric Clapton's jam with Santana on “The Calling,” but that's not the case. Rather, the more festive songs like the salsa-ed “Bacalao Con Pan,” “Ya Yo Me Cure” and “Angel Love” are the real treasures to be found on Supernatural Disc 2. On those tracks and more, Santana cuts loose and casts some Spanish castle magic as he plays so fast his fretboard might ignite. Had the album originally featured nothing but this kind of music, it's true that it may not have sold as well as it did (the crossover appeal would have been limited) originally but it's still great to hear these songs come out now because they do feature a more timeless quality than those songs propelled by pop stars. With all of that material included, the Legacy Edition of Supernatural is worth listening to because it represents the best of both proverbial worlds for Carlos Santana; here is the original release that saved the guitarist's career and introduced him to a new demographic, and the outtakes that have more of the guitarist's heart and soul in play than career savvy.



Santana (with Rob Thomas) – "Smooth" – Supernatural


The Legacy 10th Anniversary Edition of Santana's Supernatural comes out on February 16, 2010. Pre-order it here on Amazon .

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