Tuesday, October 23, 2007

No. 205: Abraxas

Band: Santana
Album: Abraxas
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: Easily the Santana band's strongest album, the record has the band playing their Latin jazzy rock and roll in various ways: Slow ("Samba Pa Ti"), bluesy ("Black Magic Woman") and harder ("Hope You're Feeling Better").
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: I'm of the opinion that if any Santana album should be on here, it should be this one, rated higher (as opposed to no. 150, "Santana").
Best song: You'd be hard pressed to find a better song from the band than "Hope You're Feeling Better."
Worst song: The opener, "Singing Winds, Crying Beasts," isn't very good.
Is it awesome?: Sure.

I've made my feelings known on Santana, in general already, so I'll simply tackle "Abraxas" here. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better Santana record; Three of the band's best songs are on this record. "Black Magic Woman," "Oye Como Va" and "Hope You're Feeling Better" all have divergent sounds and are all pretty great.

In fact, it's the divergence of sound that makes "Abraxas" so interesting. The AllMusic review gets it right in saying "In the mid-'90s, an album as eclectic as Abraxas would be considered a marketing exec's worst nightmare." That's a fitting description; Though I'd wonder if that's necessarily good bad or indifferent. If there were a band as eclectic as "Abraxas" is, there's certainly no guarantee that they'd be any good. More likely, they'd sound like Liquid Soul, which is all good and well, but hardly "Abraxas."

Santana is kind of a one-album pop wonder and that's fine. They have later records of note ("Caravanserai" is interesting, though it produced zero hits), but nothing that was as good and as popular as "Abraxas." That's fine; They're just not the Beatles.


kellydwyer said...

Still can't get over the first album's -- not even the placement -- inclusion on this list. I'm a big Santana fan and never listen to that album.

"Caravanserai," "Welcome," "Carnival" and "Moonflower" are fully-realized, better-produced albums with better songs.

kellydwyer said...

Of course, "Carnival" is just the first song on "Festival," but I'm also not that smart, and screwed up the album title.

Then again, I'm still the guy who refers to the song "Alison" as "My Aim Is True" sometimes. Or, all the time.