On a whim, I pre-ordered Santana’s new album Santana IV, about a week before its release this past Friday, having heard next to nothing about it. I was curious about the album title, for sure; considering that Santana III had come out about forty-five years ago. Well, as I would soon discover, they brought back just about everyone they could from that band that made that album. And I am here to say, after all this time, it’s as if they had never stopped playing together.
This is an album that a fan of the old Santana can get behind. I know I often make the same point that some of the more recent Santana albums, beginning with the Grammy-winning Supernatural, made it seem as if Carlos Santana was a sideman behind guest vocalists. The albums just had the name on them; they didn’t really sound like the classic sound of the first three albums from back in the day. This time around, with the return of Gregg Rolie on keyboards and vocals, Neal Schon on guitar, Michael Shrieve on drums and Michael Carabello on congas, joining with current band members Karl Perazzo on timbales and Benny Rietveld on bass, this is a band. It functions as such; the only guest vocals are provided by Ronald Isley on two songs.
It sounds great. I loved every second of it; even if it’s a bit overlong. At sixteen tracks and over 75 minutes, a couple songs could have been cut. But after not hearing this kind of sound from these guys for so long, I’m not that upset about the length or the number of songs to listen to. To me, it’s the old sound updated a bit for 2016, and they never sounded better. Chalk this up as another great listening experience.
You can hear from the band members themselves in the electronic press kit for the release of the album:
Here’s the lead single “Anywhere You Want To Go”:
One of my early favorites, “Shake It”:
Another fine instrumental, “Echizo”:
Those are just a few of my favorites, which also include “Sueños,” which I featured this morning on the Morning Groove.
Hearing this album is like reconnecting with an old friend, after a long time away. It makes you reminisce about what once was, while learning and living with what is happening in the present. And while the members have aged a bit and may not be quite what they once were, this is still plenty good enough. The chemistry is still there; you can hear plenty of reminders of the sound they pioneered so long ago, and it still sounds good.
Review grade: A-
If you’ve heard the album, or have any impressions about Santana, feel free to share in the comments.