Week 20 Review

This week I’m reviewing the 2nd album of the mythical Santana trilogy which is made up of the first 3 albums of their discography. It was released in 1970 and rose to number #1 on the US charts.      

SantanaAbraxas

Artist: Santana {Charles Santana – lead guitar, backing vocals; Gregg Rolie – keyboards, lead vocals; David Brown – bass; Michael Shrieve – drums; José “Chepito” Areas – percussion, conga, timbales; Mike Carabello – percussion, conga}
Album: Abraxas
Year: 1970
Genre: Latin Rock
Rating: 5/5

Worth Your Time? Mr. Santana and his band deserve your time and attention.

Twitter Review: Santana’s Abraxas has incredible complexity layered on top of a keen rock sensibility and topped off with some wicked guitar solos.

 Top 3 Tracks:

  1. Hope You’re Feeling Better
  2. Black Magic Woman / Gypsy Queen
  3. Se a Cabo

Things to Look For:

  • Guitar God. I’ve never really given Santana a good listen prior to this album. I’ve heard their song, Smooth, featuring Rob Thomas like a billion times given that song was unavoidable in 1999. But that was about it. I knew he was quite the guitarist given his reputation. But I really had no idea just how good he was. Listening to Abraxas has been very enlightening in that regard. I thoroughly enjoyed his solos on the album. He absolutely deserves all of the praise he gets.
  • And Everyone Else. Santana’s guitar wouldn’t sound quite as amazing on this album if the rest of the band wasn’t also incredibly talented. It’s impressive how well they all complement each other. While Carlos is laying down a serious solo, you can be guaranteed his percussionists will be playing the perfect rhythm in the background while he is doing it. The concentration of musical talent in this band is jaw dropping. I loved the percussion and keyboard work on this album as much the guitar playing.
  • Opening Track. I love the opening track, Singing Winds, Crying Beasts, because of how it slowly builds up in sound with just a couple instruments coming in and out of existence as the song progresses.  It’s not very melodic but it’s interesting enough to more than compensate for the lack of melody. The song is almost 5 minutes long and it passes in time very quickly because my ears are so busy being entertained. Before I know it, the album has transitioned to Black Magic Woman / Gypsy Queen.

Low Points: It’s not a bad track by any means but Samba Pa’ Ti was not nearly as entertaining as the rest of the album. It’s just a little too laid back so I tended to lose interest and let my mind wander when it got to this part of the album which resulted in me missing out on some amazing guitar playing half of the time. It was probably a good call to have on the album since it comes between Mother’s Daughter and Hope You’re Feeling Better which are both pretty intense. It also gives Santana some time to experiment with some more jazzy concepts which is definitely part of the appeal of Abraxas but I favored the more traditional rock tracks that they spiced up as I listened to it all week.

Anything Else: I think the main reason why I like this album is because Santana was able to take rock music and elevate to a higher plane of existence with the incredible talent of the band and their willingness to take a road less traveled. I’m sure they could have been a great rock band without infusing all these different latin and jazz elements, but I doubt people would still care about this album over 40 years later like they do now. If rock was a cupcake, Santana added some really tasty chocolate sprinkles for everyone to enjoy.

Special Guest Review
by renowned Santana expert, Adolf T. Cat

adolf t cat

Santana’s Abraxas is easily one of the greatest latin rock albums of all…wait a second. Is that an exposed female nipple on the cover of the album? How dare they unleash this trash onto the world. I can’t believe they sell this disgusting pornography on Amazon and iTunes where any young child could have their innocence ripped away from them forever and leave them with no choice but to grow up to become a sexual predator. I absolutely refuse to support such vulgar trash. Do not listen to this album. Do not buy it. In fact, blacklist any links included on this page. You have been warned. (0/5 stars)

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Week 19 Review

In 1969 the Beatles released Abbey Road onto the world. It was the last time that all four were together in the studio and the final album released under their longtime collaborator George Martin.      

Artist: The Beatles {John Lennon – vocals, rhythm guitar; Paul McCartney – vocals, bass guitar; George Harrison – lead guitar, vocals; Ringo Starr – drums, vocals}
Album: Abbey Road
Year: 1969
Genre: Rock
Rating: 5/5

Worth Your Time? Since it includes some of the greatest moments in modern music history, it is a must listen for everyone.

Twitter Review: Despite relationships between the fab four being strained at this point, the Beatles put out a classic album filled with many surprises.

 Top 3 Tracks:

  1. The Medley
  2. Come Together
  3. Because

Things to Look For:

  • George’s Peak. Harrison’s songwriting tends to have a hard time shining on a Beatles album since he is always competing with Lennon and McCartney. But on Abbey Road, Harrison is absolutely at the top of his game with Something and Here Comes the Sun. Something is such a beautiful love song. In particular, I appreciate the lyrics: You’re asking me will my love grow, I don’t know, I don’t know, You stick around now it may show, I don’t know, I don’t know. Those lines beautifully capture the uncertainty of relationships that we all face. Here Comes the Sun is also expertly crafted as you can easily feel the snow melting and picture the animals coming out of slumber to enjoy the budding spring weather while the song plays.
  • The Medley. A significant portion of the second half of the album is dedicated to a medley made up of eight songs. It is includes You Never Give Me Your MoneySun KingMean Mr. MustardPolythene PamShe Came in Through the Bathroom WindowGolden SlumbersCarry That Weight and The End. It doesn’t flow perfectly at all transitions because there were some changes afterwards in ordering. And even though Lennon has referred to some of the songs he wrote for the medley as “a bit of crap,” I consider The Medley the high point of the album. The combination of the eight pieces far exceeds anything a single part could accomplish. Basically, John wrote the front half and Paul wrote the back half for those interested.
  • Ringo’s Drumming. Starr is not a fan of drum solos. So on The End, they turned Ringo’s playing into a drum solo by dialing back the other instruments that were being played at the time. It’s very fitting for him to have a solo on this track as Paul, George and John take turns playing 2 bar guitar solos for much of the song. I know it’s not a particularly complicated solo but I think it’s absolutely perfect. And he is, of course, rock solid on the rest of the album.
  • Hidden Track. Her Majesty, which was cut from The Medley originally, is one of the earliest examples of hidden tracks on a rock album. It’s incredibly short at 23 seconds but I love the innocence and simplicity of it. Referring to drinking alcohol to get up the nerve to talk to a woman as a “I gotta get a bellyful of wine” combines an adult activity with a childlike innocence to create an authentic portrait of the hopeless romantic.

Low Points: While I thoroughly enjoy Lennon’s contributions to The Medley and love the uniqueness of Because, I don’t think I Want You (She’s So Heavy) was an ideal execution. Nobody should be surprised here when I say the song is a love song about Yoko Ono. It is the Beatles second longest song in their discography at nearly eight minutes. It’s a fairly basic song in its structure but is dragged out through massive repetition and additional ever increasing white noise at the end. I understand how highly influential and important this song is with such a dark sounding riff being featured. But I would rather have them carried it out in a more straight forward manner such as they did in Oh! Darling where they did a flawless execution of a traditional sounding song. If you love the song, that’s great. I don’t.

Anything Else: Abbey Road created an incredibly unique experience for me during the week that no other album has done to date. Every morning on the way to work I would listen to the album and be in complete awe of how amazing it was. And during every commute back home I would loathe the album wondering if I could stand it another day. I know that makes no sense. Maybe the Beatles don’t lend themselves well to being listening to on repeat? Maybe I’ve listened to them too much in my lifetime as Come Together being played on a 7″ record by my mom as she showed me her collection is my earliest musical memory I have? Maybe it was all the stress from being extremely busy at work? I honestly don’t know. It will be interesting to see if this happens on another one of their albums.

Special Guest Review
by renowned Beatles expert, Adolf T. Cat

adolf t cat

The Beatles are an overrated boy band without a single musical bone in their collective bodies. Unless you’re a 12 year old girl stuck in 1963, you have no business liking this crap. Lennon is and should always be remembered as a pretentious twat. God, do I hate him. His other three cohorts Denim Dan, Shoeless Joe and Dufus have no business ever being in a band. All of their “songs” were secretly about sex or drugs. They corrupted an entire generation back then and continues to corrupt today’s youth. My current theory for the Beatles longevity is that incredibly bad taste in music must be a dominant gene. Abbey Road, like all of their other albums, sucks. Get over it and go find a real band. (0/5 stars)

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