Santana
Caravanserai


5.0
classic

Review

by RivalSkoomaDealer USER (30 Reviews)
August 1st, 2013 | 16 replies


Release Date: 1972 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Santana flirts enticingly with jazz fusion.

Taking musical nods from the likes of Miles Davis, John Coltraine, and Mahavishnu Orchestra, Caravanserai is the final essential album in the extensive Santana discography and is vastly underrated in comparison to its predecessors. It served as a transitional record between the latin influenced psychedelic prog rock of the first three records to a more ethereal jazz approach. These tracks provide a less distinct structure, trading the track by track presentation with a more cohesive and fuller body of work. With this change in sound also come a shift in Santana’s lineup, as this album saw keyboard virtuoso Tom Coster make his first appearance. It would be the last album to feature second guitarist Neal Schon as well as Gregg Rolie who left the band to form Journey. Another part of what makes the elements of this album work so cohesively is the use of two bass players: Tom Rutley on acoustic, Doug Rauch on electric.

The sun drenched atmosphere featured on the cover perfectly conveys the mood of the music on Caravanserai. Each piece moves with the same urgency of prior records but showcases an affirmed appreciation for atmospheric vibe. Tribal drumming is accompanied brilliantly by the swirling organs of Gregg Rolie and adds a compelling layer to the mix. Frequently, this record showcases Carlos Santana doing exactly what he does best, laying down a groovy guitar line that drives the melody forward. Moreso than on previous albums however, he shows restraint, preferring not to dominate the tone of the album with his eccentric style of playing. On opener "Eternal Caravan of Reincarnation," he takes to playing percussion instead.

Caravanserai primarily invokes in the listener an audible journey through a primitive Arabian landscape. We get our first glimpse of the ambiance of the Arabian Desert with an opening of chirping crickets. The sun’s rays begin to shine in the form of a lightly fluttering flute movement with chimes that cool the soul. “Song of the Wind” is an instant standout that showcases Santana’s unmatched guitar work. His soulful playing style melds perfectly with the serene textures of the rhythm section. “All of the Love In the Universe” is conclusively spiritual"it begins with a pulsing bass line that eventually climaxes into an instrumental that boasts an immaculate solo from Carlos and as well as an unforgettable keyboard solo from Rolie’s Hammond organ. “Future Primitive” is a percussion centerpiece that allows the latin roots of the album rise to the foreground for a few brief minutes of tribal beauty. Once the penultimate track, “La Fuente Del Rimo” kicks in, we get glimpses of former Santana with chaotic conga beats, the occasional cymbal splash, and an outstanding keyboard solo from Tom Coster. We finally discover the oasis in the desert on the final track, “Every Step of the Way,” in which a calm percussion intro steadily builds, with the Hammond and guitars giving way to an eventual crescendo that climaxes as we reach our destination.

It is a shame that Santana never revisited their jazzier side as seen on Caravanserai. This album feels the most organic out of all of their bodies of work. It is a sublime experience that takes the listener across desert vistas and on safari through the wild eastern plains. What is truly remarkable though is how well crafted this record is in respect to the work as a whole. Each member exerts every ounce of influence they have and it all works magically together to create a truly captivating and immensely satisfying experience.



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user ratings (96)
Chart.
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
menawati
Contributing Reviewer
August 1st 2013


16389 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

nice

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
August 1st 2013


3651 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good review, pos. This is somehow the last classic Santana record. Welcome and Borboletta are nice, but don't really compare to his first 4 records.

Digging: High on Fire - Luminiferous

SmersH
August 1st 2013


445 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

nice review - well done, got to give this one another spin soon... fiancee's dad has it on vinyl i think, too. any way, great stuff.

Digging: Jethro Tull - Songs from the Wood

Jethro42
August 1st 2013


13016 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good review, posd.

RivalSkoomaDealer
August 1st 2013


1310 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thank you all. This may just be my favorite Santana album.

Digging: Waka Flocka Flame - Salute Me Or Shoot Me 5

MrSirLordGentleman
August 1st 2013


5970 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good album, good review, posd

manosg
Contributing Reviewer
August 2nd 2013


7969 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This needed a review badly. I enjoy this album but not as much as his first 3.



Review is well written, pos.

Digging: Wizard - Bound by metal

MeatSalad
August 2nd 2013


15886 Comments


Is this a camel album?

Digging: Rosetta - Quintessential Ephemera

MrSirLordGentleman
August 2nd 2013


5970 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

lol

jrschaef
September 10th 2013


5 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great album. Overlooked by many but one Santana's best!

Fozzie
January 6th 2014


412 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Masterpiece. One of the best fusion albums and easily Santana's best work.



Caravanserai is more jazz orientated and complex than the first three albums. The majority of the songs are also instrumentals but that doesn't take away from the album. Caravanserai flows incredibly well with beautiful melodies, stunning guitar, and killer percussion. Though listening to the individual tracks is enjoyable, I recommend listening to the entire album in one sitting and taking it all in.



The percussion on this record is the best of any Santana album. Brown is out, replaced by Doug Rauch whose basslines are memorable and stand-out. Carabello is out in favor of Mingo Lewis who is one of the best percussionists in fusion - just listen to La Fuente del Ritmo. Shrieve is at the top of his game here, especially on Every Step of the Way which he wrote.



The entire album is a highlight, but to single out some specific tracks...



Song of the Wind is an outstanding number that has both Santana and Schon on guitar, though Carlos plays the majority of the leads. This song is Santana's crowning achievement as a guitarist. Pure guitar orgy.



All the Love of the Universe is my jam. Another stand-out track with every musician just killing it. The organ solo, drumming, vocals, and especially Rauch's popping bass just rule.



Stone Flower is incredible. Awesome double bass by Tom Rutley and the percussion is superb. Gregg Rolie gives an all around fantastic performance. Also that one guitar lead gets me every time!



Every Step of the Way is a masterpiece. One of the best closers to ANY album. It is definitely Santana's best closer, edging out Para Los Rumberos from Santana III. The assault of percussion and organ build up the song, then the guitar kicks into high gear. The memorable guitar leads, drumming, and also the short flute section are stunning.



Highly recommend this to Santana fans or anyone interested in fusion. Don't pass up this musical journey.

manosg
Contributing Reviewer
January 6th 2014


7969 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Album's excellent but not easily his best unless you have listened to his latest stuff only.

RivalSkoomaDealer
January 7th 2014


1310 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I actually agree with you Fozzie, I would say this is second only to Abraxas. Just my personal opinion though. I'm partial to the jazzier stuff.

Snooze00
August 21st 2014


246 Comments


This is that made up as you go type music that just goes on and on and on till you fall asleep with your headphones on waking up later with a headache.

MrSirLordGentleman
August 21st 2014


5970 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

wtf

RivalSkoomaDealer
August 25th 2014


1310 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

stfu



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