Carlos Santana has released his new studio album, IV, a continuation of the first three Santana albums released in 1969, 1970, and 1971. This album draws from everything that has made Santana great over the course of his career, from the raw rock & roll, latin dance music, psychedelic spiritualism of those early albums to the mind-bending instrumentals of his late '70s work and and pop-oriented groovy jams of more recent years.
The LP contains a hefty 16 tracks spanning over 75 minutes, and features key band members that were part of the early '70s Santana lineup: Gregg Rolie (lead vocals, keyboards), Neal Schon (guitar, vocals), Michael Carabello (percussion), and Michael Shrieve (drums), as well as Benny Rietveld (bass), and Karl Perazzo (percussion). Ronald Isley provides vocals on two tracks.
In an interview with The Huffingston Post, Carlos talked about the band's mission and the music on the album:
It’s important to understand that this band and I are, together, the continuation of John Lennon and Bob Marley. “One Love,” “Imagine,” Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On,” “All You Need Is Love,” we are that. We believe that. I believe that. This is not plastic product, we don’t do that. I still believe in the principles of liberty and justice for all, equality, fairness, and justice, I believe that. I’m an activist outside of being a musician. I’m constantly investing in schools. I walk the walk and talk the talk when it comes to a perfect balance of being a musician and an activist. That’s what John Lennon was, and so was Bob Marley and this is who we are right now.
When you hear the first thing go, [screeches] you look at the album cover and you hear my guitar doing that. If you’re with the right person and you pass by Victoria’s Secret and you both go [screeches] at the same time, that’s a good thing. If you both growl in a primal, divine way when you see something that is deliciously, sensually arousing and you’re not embarrassed or weird about it, again, it’s validating. Santana and Marvin Gaye... We don’t apologize for stimulating the listener to feel divinity and sexuality. That’s a good thing to be accused of.
Peace and love permeate through the album, and the music shines back to the classic Santana sound, with a blend of Afro-Cuban rhythms, rock, blues, jazz, and world elements. Fans of exceptional guitar playing will appreciate not only the incredible work of Carlos Santana, but also Neal Schon — who joined Santana's band when he was just 15-years-old and went on to become a founding member of Journey, selling close to 90 million albums worldwide to date.
"Anywhere You Want To Go" has a "Black Magic Woman" feel to it, highlighted by warm guitar, keyboards, and screaming guitar solos. Upbeat percussion and a heavy rhythm fuel the dynamic (albeit lyrically cheesy) "Choo Choo," which segues without missing a beat into "All Aboard."
The band transports the listener back in time with the instrumental "Fillmore East," named for the historic Lower East Side NYC venue where the smell of patchouli oil and weed filled the air from 1968 to 1971. If you're looking for a more low-key vibe, "Sueños" is your song as it drips with Latin flavor and emotional guitar playing supported by atmospheric keyboard notes.
Carlos and the band flex their blues muscles for "Blues Magic," and the percussion heavy instrumental "Echizo" has all the ingredients of the 1969 track "Soul Sacrifice." "Come As You Are" (not to be confused with the Nirvana song) has a heavy world influence that would sound great played at a summer BBQ.
It's been a long time coming, but IV is well worth the wait for fans of Santana who have stayed true to his music since the beginning. The album is full of varied influences and skilled musicianship that helps elevate many of the songs to their full potential. This may not be as big of a commercial success as Santana's Supernatural (1999) and Shaman (2002) albums that were more geared towards pop and featured a wide range of guest vocalists, but IV will likely please more of his classic rock fans.
The songs we like most are "Shake It," "Anywhere You Want To Go," "Fillmore East," "Freedom In Your Mind," "Sueños," "Caminando," "Blues Magic," "Leave Me Alone," "You and I," and "Come As You Are."
Pick up IV on Amazon. You can also stream the full album for free above, via Spotify.
Santana is currently on the road playing solo dates, then will team up with Journey for shows later this month. He'll also be hosting a residency at the House of Blues in Las Vegas in May, September, and November.
For Santana's latest music, news, and tour dates, check out his Zumic artist page.