Starting on the same birdsong and sheep herd landscapes than its inspiration (but written by jazz-rock great Airto Moreira), you just know you will be in for another superb Santana ride as right after the intro, the first few mid-eastern scales of Canto De Flores directly lead you to heaven. As usual with Santana albums, happiness radiates from every pore of the vinyl record groove and Life Is Anew and Give And Take (both sung and hyper positive) are some of the better sung jazz-rock (I am usually not really a fan of that “thing”), and the vocals do help setting its own feel as opposed to its inspiration. On a lesser level, One With The Sun, while still lovely, is maybe one sung-track too many in a row, but I might be
just a bit over-nitpicky. Aspirations quickly repairs this slight flaw with its splendidly cosmic calmness. After the great Practice What You Preach instrumental, one more sung tracks (I must say that Leon Patillo’s voice is quite pleasing) the excellent Mirage, the impressive Here and Now is quite a departure from what Santana had us used to and segues into the highly fusional Flor De Canela, before the album climaxes in the lengthy Promise Of A Fisherman, which is not lying in its promise to the listener: although nothing never heard before, we are dealing with one of the last truly great lengthy Santana instrumental here. The closing Airto Moreira-penned track is rather anecdotical, but does close the album in the same intriguing manner it opened. One of the thngs that differentiates this album from the ultimacy (if you’ll allow the creation of a new word for that album) of Caravanserai is Greg Rollie’s absence; both his organs and his voice are aptly replaced and almost equalled. But eally, this album has very few to envy to it either, so I will round up its rating to the upper unit, making it also a five star.

(Hugues Chantraine)

Featured Album

Raymond Gomez – Volume

When listening to Volume, it soon becomes evident that Ray Gomez gets more soul, more feel, and more tone, than any other guitar player on the planet. Add in impeccable placed notes with “Albert King-like” timing, the album represents guitar playing that is hard to beat. Something else that needs to be said, Ray “rocks”. He is very keen on the groove within a song. Besides blistering leads, Ray keeps funk and rock groove rhythm in his playing. One could listen to Blues for Mez or West Side Boogie and say, “Well, there’s killer blues being played, funk being played, and a steady rockin’ groove. In essence, Ray Gomez is nothing short of a powerhouse. He gets more out of a guitar than is almost humanly possible, yet he does not overplay. Ray has the uncanny ability to play exactly what is needed for a song, yet with innovation, feel, and soaring power. U.S.A. is actually my favorite song on the record. It also establishes another front — that Ray is a damn good song writer and composer. Volume is a hidden gem that needs to be rediscovered. It’s still relevant and fresh today as it was when first released. Charles Wilson

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