George Starostin's Reviews



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Dominic Osborn <> (17.09.2005)

Santana is a band. Carlos Santana may be a fantastic guitar player and in my opinion the best of the best but the rest of Santana are no mere "backing band". Wher would "Oye Como Va", "Toussaint L'Ouverture" and their best live numbers be without the crazy africanised drumming and, say what you like about his guitar playing but his singing voice is kinda weak and uninspired whereas Rolie really throws himself at the song and gives "Mother's Daughter", "Persuasion" and others the drive (and the structure) that makes them stand out. However I will admit that the endless keyboard solos bore the shit out of me. In conclusion, Santana needs Greg Rolie and I think its a step backward from the psychedelic jam fests that are the first three albums.


<> (05.12.2000)

Simply put- Carlos Santana was and is the world's greatest guitarist. All you people who say Clapton, Hendrix and Van Halen do not know what you're talking about! Carlos would bury all three of 'em with ease. For the life of me I can't understand why Santana is always left out when great guitar players are being discussed. He not only was the best, he was the most emotional (sorry Clapton, but it's a fact, heh-heh). His playing on the Woodstock version of "Soul Sacrifice" far surpasses any other guitarist I've ever heard, especially that part right after the drum solo where he hits such a high note on his guitar that it chills you to the bone. NO other player has ever accomplished that. This album is magnificent. From the relaxed, bluesy "Evil Ways" to the rumbling congas and searing guitars on "Jingo" to the poetic beauty of "Soul Sacrifice", this album is a keeper. Oh, I forgot: "You Just Don't Care" is awesome blues, and the mysterious "Fried Neckbones" from Woodstock is very impressive. But again I have to go back to that UNBELIEVABLE "Soul Sacrifice". Aside from the part where Carlos hits that ear-piercing note, the whole song is mesmerizing too. The opening guitar work is stunning as well. You can hear the genuine sadness, passion and beauty behind every note he plays. And guess what? Hendrix was there! I wonder what he thought of 'Sacrifice. See, as good as Hendrix was at Woodstock, Santana was simply better. He can get more emotion out of one note than other guitarists can with 50! Ever wonder what all the fuss was about? Just listen to "Soul Sacrifice" at Woodstock. Now that's the way an electric guitar was intended to sound. Long live King Carlos!

<> (26.12.2001)

Big time disagreement here: I see your rating and triple it at least.

Part of it is the environment this album came from. Many of the bands from San Francisco in particular and elsewhere went in for long jamming centered on lead guitars and weak rhythm sections. Santana stood out the instant I first set the needle to the grooves in 1969. While everyone goes on about Carlos, to me the man on this record was Michael Shrieve, who basically shut down all the competition before even getting to "Soul Sacrifice." Focus on the way he controls and paces the first side of the album , from the git-off-yer-butt opener, though a cooling dowm on "Evil Ways" then the build up to the "bump-bump-da-bump-bump-da-bump-bump-da-bump (cha!)" groove of "Jingo." Same thing with the second side, culminating with the drum solo on "Soul Sacrifice" which is both spectacular and yet to-the point. It doesn't waste a beat (I speak as one who normally finds drum solos horribly boring) and by the way, the studio version is better than the Woodstock version, which breaks tempo and meanders a bit.

lyn davies <> (05.10.2002)

We completely agree with RAILGUITAR on this one. The main man behind the album was Michael. His performance in 'Soul Sacrifice' at Woodstock 1969, took our breath away and was amazing to say the least. Although guitarists at heart, the drums are what MADE 'Soul Sacrifice'. Although you commented that "Santana himself isn't all that prominent" with bad connotations, Michael Shrieve and his amazing percussion skills are the main reason that Santana sounds so good, regardless of whether they "overshadowed" Santana himself. This was Michael's song, this was the best drum performance of the time and even today it beats practically ALL other drummers and their attempts at solos. We are not mocking them, but they are not up to the standard of Michael Shrieve, and you can't blame them. That guy is a god, and at such a young age proves to be the BEST drummer of ALL time. Your rating was incorrect, as Michael Shrieves drumming makes for at least a 5 out of 5. Come on, give the cat some credit!


Mike DeFabio <> (02.01.2001)

"Oye Como Va" is decent time consuming filler? Oh no! That's a GREAT song! I haven't even heard the original (Wilson and Alroy I am not) except the bits that were sampled in "Body Movin'" by the Beastie Boys, but man, the Santana version is darn excellent. The rest is cool too, though they sure could've chosen a better closer than "El Nicoya." And it's a really short album, so the bonus tracks really help.

Glenn Wiener <> (29.01.2001)

This record is not for everyone especially those who like strong song structures and vocals in their music. However, the solos, riffs, and mood changes are simply excellent most ntoably on 'Incident At Neshabar'. 'Singing Winds Crying Beasts' is a perfect lead in to 'Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen' which ends strong on some high quality guitar solos.

Federico Marcon <> (21.02.2001)

I don' t like this album ; all the songs sound so similar : a wall of percussions with guitar on them.Even if the percussions section is very good and Carlos is one of the best guitarist I' ve ever heard, the compositions are so weak : where is the song structure?It' s hard to tell, but Santana is a very poor skilled composer,and all song here seem to be "light" ; I like jam session and guitar-solo improvisations, but in Abraxas the sound has a so bare style ( also the guitar, for me, even if it' s sure  cooler than other milions ) and the organ and the other effects never manage to fill the sound.

A good chance wasted.


Glenn Wiener <> (24.09.2001)

Like yourself, I feel this release is the best from the original Santana lineup. Even the song-writing is slightly improved. Carlos and Neal Schon are on top of their games guitar wise. 'Taboo' and 'Tousaint De Overture' are nice pieces but you do overlook 'Guarinja'. But the jamming and soloing is A1.


Slim Shady <> (18.07.2001)

hi, imho, caravanserai is one of the most spiritual and beautiful albums ever recorded. everytime i hear it im reminded of home, not home, but the journey - the "going home" - everybody living away from home will understand what that means.

i listen to it when i feel extremely lonely and it takes me to a warm safe place.

this is not to undermine the blistering solos and flashy guitar heroics that are such an integral part of any santana record. if u ask me - a perfect *****

i think the next best albums are santana 3 & the debut

Craig Bowen <> (04.11.2001)

not even a mention of Neil Schon? a fair amount of the guitar work on this album is quite different stylistically and while you could think carlos had developed new technique, the quiet introduction of a second guitarist begs..who played what???

Paul Regan <> (29.06.2003)

To put it quite simply, the greatest rock album ever recorded. Caravanserai reflects Carlos' interest in Coltrane and Miles Davis and his disintersest, at the time, for a strict band structure. Santana, the band, was fast disintegrating in 1972 which makes the appearance of this album even more stunning.

A tour de force which has not been equalled!!!

Philip Bourke <> (12.11.2003)

I remember listening to Abraxas years back but little else until I picked up a copy of Caravanserai on lp about a year ago and I was completly blown away by its beauty, passion and power. Its an lp that deserves and needs the attention of everyone to hear it., The band are firing on all cylinders here and there is a unique bond that comes through in the music, though at the same time the (old) Santana Band were breaking up! I really hate to go about best album this or greatest lp that, but I have to say this IS possibly the greatest lp I have ever heard and one I keep coming back to . The line " every body needs a helping hand" on the track 'All the Love in the World' always gives me a shiver...

Chuck Sierra <> (03.03.2004)

My reply is regarding the Caravanserai review regarding "Song of the Wind" Neal Schon isn't getting any credit here when he really should. Neal plays the opening sequence, then Carlos plays the middle section and Neal finishes off the song. This is confirmed, I have seen an article with Carlos where he talks of the band building a "sofa" for him and Neal to climb on and off on and he explains the solo sequence of this song. The only thing that I don't know here is what equipment was used. I suspect Les Pauls and Fender Twins since at that time the Boogie was still in development stages.

Herbert Salzmann <> (13.04.2004)

a genius moment in rock history. what the band forces me to do on "song of the wind", is the best attitude to the whole album: give up the control and confide. i have bought the album in 1976 and i`ve listened to it till today. it gives me courage.


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Norah Ryan <> (17.06.2001)

In your review, you keep mentioning that there is a lack of structure to these guitarists' jams, which makes for anticlimactic and inferior grooves. You should read up on Sanatana's feelings about this album though. During this uniquely spiritual period in Santana's life and music, his whole mindframe was about playing the guitar not only by using his mind, but by using his instinct and his soul as well. While it does seem as though these guitar solos lack structure, try to except the beauty that this may have been intentional. These guys were playing what FELT was right. Not to mention that McGlaughlin and Santana only spent a mere few hours each recording their parts on this album. This album delivers, what I believe to be the most spiritualy and emotionally powerful sounds in Sanatana's repertior. If only more artists would take his cue and seperate themselves from the constraints of the popular sound, and allow themselves to explore the endless possibilities that music has to offer them. I hope this doesn't sound like an attack on your review; it's more of a "look deeper, listen more intently" type thing. Santana and McGlaughlin claim to have completely let go when they made this music - maybe one has to do the same while listening to this album to fully appreciate it. I do agree that 'The Life Devine' is a simply mind boggling creation of music. It really does seem impossible. Great site and great reviews!

RAUL VALENCIANO <> (21.01.2004)

Just a brief comment. Actually, I think it´s pretty simple to distinguish who´s playing what on this album, as both guitar players have a unique, distinctive and really diferent way of playing. Mc Laughlin´s use of scales is closer to the jazz-fusion context he comes from rather than the bluesy backgroud Santana originally belonged to. Moreover, he´s faster than Santana, way too faster indeed. His phrases are composed by thousands of notes (a way of speaking, mind you) played at the speed of light, compared to Santana´s lengthier ones. As an instrumentist he´s a sort of the oposite to his partner. His style is vivacious, more nervous, reckless in a way, whereas Santana is more gentle, atmospheric.Where Mclaughlin preaches excess, Santana sticks to economy and restrain.

Anyway, try to listen to this album on your hearphones. Most of the time, each guitar comes from a different earphone all the way through the songs, so you can make the diference easily.

As a conclusion, I´d like to remark that, in my humble opinion, and however much I love Santana, Mclaughlin dwarfs Santana on this album.As a guitarist, he´s technically far far superior. Anyway, they´re too diferent one another to be compaired.


Miguel Gonzalez <> (29.11.2000)

In browsing your site I find several similarities in musical taste. In particular, Carlos Santana, unfortunately I have to disagree with your review of the Welcome Album (well, is out of print now). I do agree there are several 'boring' tracks but there are also some very good tracks:

- Samba del Sausalito

- Yours is the light

- Love, Devotion and Surrender

Are all great tracks. I noticed that you seem taken over by the Caravanserai album, and I think that this is one of the finest Santana recordings too. Personally, I think that -Song of the Wind- is DA-best Santana guitar solo recording he ever made, although many people I talk to, don't even know the album exists.

I was also surprised to see that you have also heard the Buddy Miles and Mahavishnu albums and I have to agree that there's not much there.

I think that Santana would not have been as successful if Gregg Rollie had not been the keyboard player and singer in the first 4 albums. Unfortunately, Gregg does not get the credit he deservers. His Leslie/Hammond solos are one of a kind and Santana would not be where he is today without Gregg Rollie's absolute organ sounds.

For what is worth, most of your reviews get it right.

junk mail <> (03.11.2002)

Taste (or lack of it, if you disagree with someone else's!) is a curious thing. To my mind, Welcome represents - together with Love Devotion Surrender - the high point in Santana's career! Welcome has grown on me over the years whereas Caravanserai (for example) has done the opposite.

If anyone knows why Welcome seems to have been so neglected over the years by the record company - is there a copyright issue lurking out there? - I'd love to know.

By the way... one could ask why the "pure ectasy" of CS's solo on Caravanserai becomes "boredom" when replayed almost note-for-note on "LDS"!

Incidentally, advice to anyone tempted to buy the bootleg of Santana and McLaughlin - don't, it's dreadful, and the only possible consolation I can find in having wasted my own money on it is to realise how relatively disciplined (or studio-crafted?) "LDS" is!

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the site - well done.


Matti Alakulju <Matti.Alakulju@SWTP.RU> (02.09.2003)

Back in 1980, I was a 15-year old schoolboy in Northern Finland, and a friend of mine borrowed me this 3-LP monster set imported from Japan. This was one of my first trips back to the golden age of rock, along with Deep Purple's Made in Japan. Listening to the climax of 'Toussaint', I decided that I must get all Santana records. Those furious guitar fills close to the end of the song sort of pushed me beyond some brink. This record, now 2-CD, still remains as one of my desert island sets. And I have no trouble listening it all the way through.

John O'Byrne <> (13.09.2005)

I got the 2cd version of this album from my brother a few years ago as a birthday present. Since then it has been one of the few CDs I've had a question mark over, I liked it, but there was something about it that stopped me from loving it. Your review hit the nail on the head as far as I'm concerned! Best listened to in bits rather than as a whole. Great review.


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<> (20.05.2001)

You are calling one of the best guitar numbers ever ('Europa') offensive? What may sound like "elevator" music to you people on the surface is actually one of the most beautiful songs they ever recorded. I invite you to try and compare a textbook new-age instrumentalist to Carlos Santana. That little guitar line that opens up the song is actually *incredibly* hard to play, and make it sound beautiful. "europa" is simply on a different spiritual level than most music, I would say. Most people I know refer to me as "that guy who knows all the santana songs." But I have pretty much resigned myself to the fact....that Carlos Santana, and ONLY carlos santana, can play that song and send shivers up my spine.

By the way, if you want to check out an even better version, pick up the album Viva Santana from '87 I believe. There is an incredible Live version of "europa" (along with many others)


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