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Latin American-rock band Santana reunites its classic 1970s lineup to transport you back in time with their latest album.
Santana IV has everything that brought the band to prominence, such as latin-infused rhythm, amazing guitar riffs, songs with few lyrics, songs with no lyrics and guitar solos that go on for minutes. Unlike in more recent years, Santana the band and not Carlos Santana the man take center stage. You will not find hits like “Smooth” and “Maria“–two cuts off of their 1999 album Supernatural–that made Carlos Santana a household name among younger generations on Santana IV. That’s due to Santana IV being a return to form. It shares more musical resemblance to the music from the band’s early days than any of their more recent material. A large portion of that has to do with the reunification of the core musicians, who were last heard together on 1971’s Santana III.
“Yambu,” the opening track, sets the tone from the start of the album with its conga-style chant and rhythms, which is almost direct call back to 1969’s “Jingo.” From when the first chant of “Yambu” sets in, you know something about this album is different. On “Anywhere You Want to Go” you might feel fully transported back in time. Everything from the lyrics to the sound of the song seems to come from a different decade. So much that I’d bet if you mixed it in with their classic songs it would fit in so well that not many casual fans would guess it was released in 2016 and not 1971.
One of my favorite things about the album–and there are many–is that it was not made with radio in mind. It’s hard to see any of the songs from the album make it to mainstream radio. Even the most upbeat and rhythmic song “Choo Choo” would have a hard time. Maybe a few decades ago it would have stood a chance. “Sueños” is a five-minute guitar-led instrumental in the spirit of 1976’s “Europa (Earth’s Cry Heaven’s Smile).” With its riveting guitar chords, it is one of the strongest tracks on the album and without a doubt the most beautiful, and yet it has a close to zero percent chance of being heard on radio.
Other strong tracks include “Love Makes the World Go Around” and “Freedom in Your Mind.” Both songs feature Ronald Isley, former lead singer of the Isley Brothers (best known for 1959’s “Shout“). “Freedom in Your Mind” calls upon themes from the ’60s and ’70s such as peace, love and freedom.
“The world is our home, we are family/
Freedom in your mind, everyone can see/
Life will never be misery/
We can change the world, and bring peace/
-“Freedom In Your Mind”
With lyrics, themes, and sounds like the lyrics above, Santana IV is a blast from the past and masterfully made.
The album is out now and available for streaming on Spotify. The band is currently on a world tour.