Carlos Santana introduced a new rock sound to the masses

Santana was the band that was most responsible for bringing Latin-influenced rock ‘n’ roll music to the masses.

Carlos Santana’s incredibly unique lead guitar style along with the band’s use of several Latin-flavored percussion instruments were the driving forces of the band’s one-of-a-kind sound.

Santana originally formed in 1966 and played everything from free concerts in the park to dances at high schools throughout the San Francisco Bay area. The band actually put on an amazing live show at the Fillmore West in 1968 before releasing its first official recording in 1969.

That Fillmore West recording was not released until 1997. Santana’s first three albums rival those of any other band’s first three recordings in all of rock music.

The original five members of Santana only recorded three albums together before two of them, Greg Rollie and Neal Schon, left the band to form Journey, a big mistake in my opinion.

Santana’s self-titled debut album with great songs such as “Evil Ways,” “Waiting,” “Jingo” and “Soul Sacrifice” and was released in 1970 to rave reviews.

Not many people had heard that kind of sound before, and it was quite infectious and loved by critics and fans alike.

Looking back, when that album came out, one of the coolest things about it, besides the great music, was its amazing cover design. At first glance it looks like an up-close pencil drawing of a roaring lion. If you look closer, you will see that the lion’s head is made up of nine different human heads.

It has always amazed me. And for the most part, Santana always has had really creative album covers throughout its recording career.

Santana’s second album, “Abraxas,” is probably its most popular recording and contains its most recognizable hit, the definitive version of Peter Green’s “Black Magic Woman.”

“Abraxas” also contains a cover of Tito Puente’s “Oye Como Va” as well as “Hope Your Feeling Better” and the beautiful instrumental “Samba Pa Ti” among its nine tracks.

Visually stunning would be the only way to describe the cover of “Abraxas,” which is an homage to the psychedelic background of the San Francisco-based band. Another thing Santana did was record at least two instrumental tracks on most of its recordings.

“Santana III,” if you were to pin me down, is my favorite record from Santana. You just have to see the cover because I can’t describe it.

“Santana III” has several of my very favorite songs from the band on it. This also is an LP that was overlooked by many because it came right after Santana’s smash hit “Abraxas.” That even makes it more amazing to me!

It also is where a then 17-year-old Neal Schon joined the band, and I think it was his presence and ability that challenged Carlos Santana and made him a better guitar player.

All you have to do it listen to “Taboo” and “Toussaint L’Overture” to hear some of the most amazing guitar work that Carlos Santana has ever put down.

Another of my favorite songs from the album is “No One to Depend On” and when it comes on the radio, conversation stops and the volume goes up.

I think you should do yourself a favor and listen to some “old” Santana this weekend.

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Rock Cesario owns Triple Play Records, 530 Main St., and hosts “Acoustic Sunday” from 9 a.m. to noon Sunday on Drive 105.3 FM. Email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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