Santana III is an album that undeservingly stands in the shadows behind the towering legend that is the band's second album, Abraxas. This was also the album that brought guitarist Neal Schon -- who was 17 years old -- into the original core lineup of Santana. Percussionist Thomas "Coke" Escovedo was brought in to replace (temporarily) José Chepitó Areas, who had suffered a brain aneurysm, yet who recovered quickly and rejoined the band. The rest were Carlos, organist Gregg Rolie, drummer Michael Schrieve, bassist David Brown, and conguero Michael Carabello. "Batuka" is the powerful first evidence of something being very different.
The band was rawer, darker, and more powerful with twin leads and Schon's harder, edgier rock & roll sound paired with Carlos' blend of ecstatic high notes and soulful fills. It cooks -- funky, mean, and tough. "Batuka" immediately transforms itself into "No One to Depend On," by Escovedo, Carabello, and Rolie. The middle section is highlighted by frantic handclaps, call-and-response lines between Schon and Rolie, and Carlos joining the fray until the entire track explodes into a frenzied finale. And what's most remarkable is that the set just keeps on cooking, from the subtle slow burn of "Taboo" to the percussive jam workout that is "Toussaint l'Overture," a live staple in the band's set list recorded here for the first time (and featuring some cooking Rolie organ work at its beginning). "Everybody's Everything" is here, as is "Guajira" and "Jungle Strut" -- tunes that are still part of Santana's live show. With acoustic guitars, gorgeous hand percussion, and Santana's fragile lead vocal, "Everything's Coming Our Way" is the only "feel good" track here, but it's a fitting way to begin winding the album down with its Schon and Santana guitar breaks.
The album ends with a completely transformed reading of Tito Puente's "Para los Rumberos," complete with horns and frantic, almost insanely fast hand drumming and cowbell playing. It's an album that has aged extremely well due to its spare production (by Carlos and the band) and its live sound. This is essential Santana, a record that deserves to be reconsidered in light of its lasting abundance and vision.
by Thom Jurek
With Guitar Virtuoso Neal Schon in Fold, Santana Makes Musical Magic That Truly Spans the Globe Years Before “World Music” Became a Genre
The final Santana album recorded with the leader’s famed Woodstock lineup, one of the most capable and explosive bands ever assembled, Santana III (commonly referred to as The Third Album) is a beacon of Latin-tinged rock, melodic creativity, and cohesive interplay. The record also marks the debut of young guitar virtuoso Neal Schon, who functions as the ideal foil to Santana, whose playing on this 1971 set rivals that of the finest in his career. If not for arriving after the monumental Abraxas, it is likely Santana IIIwould be mentioned in the same breath as groundbreaking psychedelic classics such as Bitches Brew. It’s that good.
Embracing the concept that all of the members should share their musical ideas, Santana added two crucial components to his band: Schon, discovered at the age of 15 playing in a Palo Alto club, and Thomas “Coke” Escovedo, who during the sessions temporarily replaced ill percussionist Chepito Areas, and whose percussive assistance helped define the album’s feel. With Schon in the fold, Santana strives for the unknown, and yet, manages to stave off the numbing excesses that define much of the period’s output.
From the opening “Batuka,” peppered with Schon’s stirring guitar lines, to the sensitive “Everything Is Coming Our Way,” infused with a mesmerizing Hammond organ underpinning that supports Santana’s vocal pathos, the record teams with inventiveness. Involving albeit accessible concoctions of funk, jazz, rock, blues, and soul run throughout the set. Spanish-styled flavors infuse a majority of the material, ranging from the salsa piano on “Guarjira” to the distinctive “No One to Depend On,” a lively take on the cha-cha-cha.
A globe-spanning armada of percussive instruments – timbales, congas, drums, vibes, tambourines, and more – as well as the existence of a three-person percussion team that fits in harmoniously with Santana, Schon, and company makes Santana III a masterful accomplishment in musical chemistry and the exploration of true world craft.
The tension of Schon’s guitar lines, the album’s open sound, and extensive use of studio echoes (check the presence of the backward echo on “No One to Depend On”) fill the soundstage, replete with the kind of depth and dynamics one expects from a first-rate audiophile recording.
1. Batuka (Gregg Rolie, Carlos Santana, Neal Schon, David Brown, Michael Shrieve, José Areas, Mike Carabello) - 3:34
2. No One To Depend On (Coke Escovedo, Michael Carebella) - 5:31
3. Taboo (Gregg Rolie, José Areas) - 5:35
4. Toussaint L'Overture (Gregg Rolie, Carlos Santana, Neal Schon, David Brown, Michael Shrieve, José Areas, Mike Carabello) - 5:59
5. Everybody's Everything (Carlos Santana, Milton Brown, Tyrone Moss) - 3:33
6. Guajira (Chepito Reyes, David Brown, Rico Reyes) - 5:45
7. Jungle Strut (Gene Ammons) - 5:22
8. Everything's Coming Our Way (Carlos Santana) - 3:16
9. Para Los Rumberos (Tito Puente) - 2:46
10.Gumbo (Carlos Santana, Gregg Rolie) - 4:24
11.Folsom Street One (Carlos Santana, Gregg Rolie) - 7:08
12.Banbeye (Gregg Rolie, Carlos Santana, Neal Schon, David Brown, Michael Shrieve, José Areas, Mike Carabello) - 10:21
13.No One to Depend On (Coke Escovedo, Michael Carebella) - 3:13
Tracks 1-9 Original Album
Bonus Tracks 10-12 Legacy edition previously unissued studio recordings
Bonus Track 13 Legacy edition single version
1. Batuka (Gregg Rolie, Carlos Santana, Neal Schon, David Brown, Michael Shrieve, José Areas, Mike Carabello) - 3:47
2. No One to Depend On (Coke Escovedo, Michael Carebella) - 5:29
3. Toussaint L'Overture (Gregg Rolie, Carlos Santana, Neal Schon, David Brown, Michael Shrieve, José Areas, Mike Carabello) - 6:10
4. Taboo (Gregg Rolie, José Areas) - 5:10
5. Jungle Strut (Gene Ammons) - 5:49
6. Black Magic Woman / Gypsy Queen (Peter Green, Gábor Szabó) - 6:15
7. Incident At Neshabur (Alberto Gianquinto, Carlos Santana) - 5:28
8. In A Silent Way (Joe Zawinul, Miles Davis) - 6:55
9. Savor (Gregg Rolie, Carlos Santana, Neal Schon, David Brown, Michael Shrieve, José Areas, Mike Carabello) - 3:35
10.Para los Rumberos (Tito Puente) - 3:41
11.Gumbo (Carlos Santana, Gregg Rolie) - 5:26
Live at the Fillmore West, San Francisco, California, July 4, 1971
*Gregg Rolie - Lead Vocals, Keyboards, Piano
*Carlos Santana - Guitar, Vocals
*Neal Schon - Guitar
*David Brown - Bass
*Michael Shrieve - Drums, Percussion
*José "Chepito" Areas - Percussion, Conga, Timbales, Drums
*Mike Carabello - Percussion, Conga, Tambourine, Vocals
*Rico Reyes - Percussion, Vocals, Vocals
*Thomas "Coke" Escovedo - Percussion, Vocals
*Luis Gasca - Trumpet
*Mario Ochoa - Piano
*Tower Of Power - Horn Section
*Linda Tillery - Background Vocals
*Greg Errico - Tambourine