The Sony Legacy Edition
's 1969 self-titled debut album is exactly the kind of deluxe treatment that the repackaging and remastering of a classic album deserves. Fine liner notes by Hal Miller
guide the listener through the historical journey of this record. First, there is a stunningly remastered version of the original album, front and center with alternate takes of "Savor" and "Soul Sacrifice" added, as well as a studio jam. Musically, Santana is the
spot on the map marking the point where everything came together, mutated, and changed. Here Afro-Cuban son, blues, rock, jazz, and funk collided head on, and decided to become something else. Gregg Rolie
's swirling, atmospheric organ provided the sonic root equation. Santana's guitar provided the frenzied flight, and Michael Shrieve's Elvin Jones
-inspired driving kit work provided a dynamic commensurate with the visceral nature of rock. This was not aided, but made possible and furthered by the percussion work of Joe Areas and Michael Caravello
, and anchored to earth only by David Brown
's rock-solid, dirty-assed bassing. Sure, "Evil Ways" was a monster single, but it doesn't begin to tell the story of the album. Interestingly, with the all the bonus material added, the album doesn't even tell the story of the album. What does offer the key is disc two, which includes the band's original studio sessions for the album -- before the addition of Shrieve and Areas to the band. These tracks, almost all of which appeared in different form on the final version, revealed a talented, original, but loosely focused and slightly timid jamming ensemble that put together some compelling riffs and ideas, but hadn't jelled in a studio setting. Add to this Santana's complete Woodstock performance (with four previously unreleased tracks which took place before the album's release date) and the listener gets floored just contemplating the final release. That in four months, this band had gone from being green and naïve to becoming command performers. This is a remarkable, welcome, and definitive addition to the Santana catalog and raises the watermark for all reissues as well.