Multi-Dimensional Warrior

Santana

Carlos Santana is certainly one of the greats. His guitar playing is masterful, his spirit immense and his influence huge on rock, Latin, even MOR music. From Woodstock through the crazy Bill Graham daze in California to masterful instrumental recordings, his outspoken political views and his sweep of the Grammys, Carlos Santana has been ‘the man’ for over four decades in popular music. The 2-CD Multi-Dimensional Warrior attempts to give the listener a little idea of why he is such a legend.

Not really a greatest hits package, Multi-Dimensional Warrior features songs from Santana’s past, relying mostly on mid 80s/early 90s releases like Beyond Appearances, Spirits Dancing In The Flesh and Milagro. Strong stuff to be sure, the first CD features songs heavy on the spiritual side, with lyrics reflecting Santana’s belief in a higher power. Tunes like “Let There Be Light” and “Brotherhood” were written with Chester Thompson and David Sancious. Though there's some nice harp on “Light” and a solid groove on “Brotherhood”, it’s not until “Spirit” that I felt that old-time Santana machine kicking in. “Right Now” and “Life Is For Living” (with some great interplay between Santana and his percussionists) have that unmistakable 80s feel to them. I'm particularly fond of “Your Touch”, which has "hit" all over it. “The River” rounds out the first CD with some nice vocals, although hearing Santana play, I almost wish it was an instrumental.

On the flipside, the second CD is filled with nothing but instrumentals. “Aqua Marine” is tasty Carlos Santana all the way, but “Bella”, “Love Is You,” “Full Moon” and “Blues Latino” all sound the same to me. As great as Santana is, and there’s no disputing this fact, the sad truth is there isn't enough guitar, or, in some cases, even the shadowy semblance of a song. “Full Moon” is probably the best of the bunch with some nice piano and percussion, but we really never go anywhere with the tune.

“Sama Pa Ti” picks up the pace as Santana employs a unique guitar tone that makes way for a strong riff. “Europa” might be the most recognizable song here. This is classic Santana with a crying guitar line gliding over a solid arrangement. “El Farol” introduces some sparse flamenco acoustic guitar before Santana infuses some simple yet effective electric chops over the top of a samba backing. “En Aranjuez Con Tu Amor” and “I Love You Much Too Much” are driven by a solid and mournful guitar. “Blues For Salvador,” features Santana wailing, bending and sustaining notes as only he can. I loved this tune when I first heard it in 1987, and maintain that this is the one song Santana should have won a Grammy for.

As far as a concept goes, if there is one here, Multi-Dimensional Warrior taps into the spiritual Santana on the first disc before giving way to the mellower, instrumental Santana on the second CD. Although you've probably heard most of these tunes before, especially if you’re a Santana fan, bringing them together on this double CD set certainly warrants further investigation.

~ Ralph Greco, Jr.

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