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REVIEWS - SOUNDS

Title:
Supernatural
Artist(s):
Santana
El-Camel's Ratings:

Label:
Arista
---BUY THIS ALBUM---
Reviewer:
michael white

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This is a review we did when this album first came out here last year. Supernatural has now gone on to massive success in the US: SIX MILLION copies sold there in 1999 while the single 'Smooth' topped the US charts for TWELVE WEEKS - the longest running of the year: be sure, be very sure, you are going to hear Santana throughout the year in the UK as Arista attempt to repeat the success on this side of the Atlantic …

It’s thirty–one years since Santana’s unique brand of Latino-rock burst on to the west-coast psychedelic canvas. Part of the second wave of San Francisco bands - Carlos and his multi-talented collective offered inclusion in the fall out of the hippy-styled Summer of Love to that vast swathe of the Spanish-speaking population of the United States; whose battle against economic and social oppression had seemed secondary and insignificant alongside the demands of white middle-class college kids in the anti-Vietnam war movement - and the burgeoning Afro-American cry of black power.

Their loose jamming, cross-cultural ethos found a perfect home with the Fillmore audience before eventually broadening out to worldwide fame. Although they spearheaded a number of acts in the same vein, contemporaries such as Malo were not blessed with such longevity. Despite the fact that the band contained a number of fine musicians, and at any one time could lay claim to be the most populous band in rock – superceding even Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention - the defining core of their sound lay almost exclusively with Carlos Santana’s quicksilver guitar: the rest were reduced more and more to the status of Santana Blokes. The percussive elements, so striking at first, soon came to resemble little more than icing on a rich cake of fret-based dexterity.

Supernatural brings the Santana sound up to date, er… yet it doesn’t. The tracks feature collaborations with Lauryn Hill, Eagle Eye Cherry, Wyclef Jean and the Dust Brothers amongst others - yet the guitar work resembles a floating brand. Whatever the creative situation/personnel, the prospective listener probably knows exactly what he or she wants – with the reassurance that this is exactly what they are going to get. Consistent, but not necessarily current.

There’s nothing to match the impact of first hearing ‘Black Magic Woman’ or ‘Samba Pa Ti’ here but the overall feel is of welcoming an old friend. Opening track – ‘(Da Le) Yaleo’ - brings the trademarks of the latter up to date, closely followed by ‘Love Of My Life’ replete with those coveted, atmospheric blues licks punctuating the ether.

‘Smooth’ could be an earthier escape route for Ricky Martin - I kid you not: the collaboration with the vocals of Lauryn Hill is the most obviously ‘contemporary’ but leaves an uneasy feeling – it is difficult to discern much of the Santana stamp: to all intent this is a guest appearance in reverse – generous on his part for sure but best suited to her own solo album.

The juices flow most when the golden guitar lines shimmer, soar and weave. It’s what he is, it’s what he does. The patina of ‘now’ coating Supernatural – the hip-hop element for one - is more than some cynical exercise in defining a new audience. However, getting the balance between the need to progress and open out with the conservative expectations of an audience that wants more and more of the same, has a tendency to produce half-hearted attempts at assimilation.

Fans of guitar heroes demand solos: tortured, twangy, and twisting in an axe-chopping, tightrope-walking vision of heaven. And Carlos provides more than enough to keep anyone satisfied. Closing track ‘The Calling’ gives you Santana and Ol’ Slowhand – Eric Clapton - together: either heaven or hell - depending on where your musical religion takes you.

Supernatural – it’s riff work… but someone’s got to do it.


Oilzine Members Reviews
Supernatural
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UserID:
eazydan
Ratings:
Review:
Santana is a dried up old fool....
Posted:
13/06/01 09:42:15
   
UserID:
eazydan
Ratings:
Review:
Santana is a dried up old fool....
Posted:
13/06/01 09:41:46
   
UserID:
eazydan
Ratings:
Review:
It's boring
Posted:
08/06/01 14:32:21
   


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