Browsing through my CD collection last week, I discovered that I didn’t own any vintage Santana albums on redbook CD. I do own a DTS version of Abraxas, which I very seldom listen to and don’t like very much because of the rather odd surround mix. So after doing some research on AMG online, I went out and acquired the Legacy Edition of Santana III. I opted for this album primarily because Carlos Santana recruited a very young Neal Schon into the band for this album and I was curious how much impact the twin guitar approach would have. Schon was only 15 at the time but plays a mean guitar that fares pretty well even against Santana himself.
The Legacy Edition of Santana III consists of the original album and 4 previously unreleased studio tracks on Disc 1 and a complete live concert on Disc 2. The 11 concert tracks were recorded at the Fillmore West on the 4th of July, 1971 and the music on Santana III made its first public debut there.
After giving both CDs their first spin on my system, I was thoroughly satisfied with this purchase and did not regret splashing the extra cash for the Legacy Edition bonuses. Judging by memory, Santana III sounds every bit as engaging and stunning as Abraxas. None of the 9 tracks that make up the original album can be considered remotely filler – and the 4 bonus tracks on Disc 1 are the rare case of high quality unreleased material and not garbage that ought to stay archived. I found the live Fillmore West concert equally rewarding. While the tracks don’t differ too greatly from the album versions, the playing is more open and relaxed. The live version of Black Magic Woman here features fills and solos by Neal Schon, and it sounds great. Another interesting track is Santana’s take of Joe Zawinul’s In A Silent Way – this song fully reflects free-flowing improvisation skills of the entire band and the music climate of that era.
Disc 1 outstanding tracks : #3 Taboo, #4 Toussaint L’Overture, #7 Jungle Strut, #Folsom Street – One
Disc 2 outstanding tracks : #6 Black Magic Woman, #8 In A Silent Way
Verdict : very highly recommended and a brilliant companion piece to Abraxas.