Review Summary: Santana III feels like the end to a trilogy of albums. The tones are darker, the layers run deeper, and the impact is as astounding as it was when they hit the scene at Woodstock.
In Fall 1971, Santana were at the peak of their commercial success. Their self-titled debut had reached #4 on the Billboard Album Chart, and their sophomoric Abraxas
sold more than four-million and reached #1 in 1970. Behind the scenes however, things were in turmoil. Carlos wanted the band to stay established in a firm latin-based sound while Greg Rollie wished to delve into a more progressive territory. Santana III
was the final album recorded by the Woodstock era founding members of Santana and the first to feature 17 year old guitar prodigy, Neil Schon, who had just turned down the opportunity with Clapton in his band, Derek and the Dominoes.
was released in the same year as some of the most influential albums of all time such as Led Zeppelin IV
, Who’s Next…
, Sticky Fingers
, and Fragile
. From the moment opener “Batuka” begins with complex latin drumming, it is clear Santana haven’t missed a beat since Abraxas
. The song evolves into an immersive experience that showcases impressive guitar soloing that never wears out its welcome. Greg Rolie’s Hammond B3 continues to be a highlight, matching the vibrancy of Santana’s sound perfectly and adding a unique layer to it. “Toussaint L’Overture” provides the perfect instrumental breakdown where Santana, Schon, and Rolie vie against one another in a battle of musical nirvana before an abrupt finish to side one. “Guajira” displays the fluid jazz sound that would further define Santana’s sound on their next album, Caravanserai
feels like the end to a trilogy of albums. The tones are darker, the layers run deeper, and the impact is as astounding as it was when they hit the scene at Woodstock. It was also the last album from them to become #1 on the charts until their return to form on “Supernatural” in ’99. According to Guinness Book of World Records 2005, this is the longest delay between #1 albums that has occurred in music history.