Classic Rock Review

The home of old record and bootleg reviews…

Santana III: Legacy Edition (2006)


The year was 1971, and young Neil Schon had a big decision to make. The 17-year-old guitar prodigy was invited by Eric Clapton to join Derek and the Dominoes at the same time that he was invited by Carlos Santana to join his group. Schon chose Santana just in time to go into the studio to join in the recording of the band’s third album.

By the time Santana III was recorded, the band was still riding the huge wave they created with their historic appearance at Woodstock two years earlier. Their self-titled first album had reached #4 on the Billboard Album Chart, and their second, Abraxas, sold more than four-million and reached #1 in 1970. Everything seemed to be going their way.

What most of their fans didn’t know was that the pressure of success was taking its toll on the group, and by 1971 they were on the verge of disintegrating. Santana wanted the band to put emphasis on its Mexican musical roots. Greg Rollie, an original member of the band when it was formed in 1966 as the Santana Blues Band, wanted to go with a more progressive sound and themed concept albums, which suited young Schon just fine, given his classical training.

The tensions became more than the group could handle, and soon after the release of Santana III, the band’s members went their separate ways. Rollie later formed Journey, which would also become Schon’s home.

What’s Significant About Santana III: Legacy Edition
• It is the last album recorded by the original Woodstock-era lineup and the first that included Neil Schon
• It contains three songs that were recorded during those 1971 studio sessions but have not been released previously
• The second CD in the set contains the band’s complete final set on the night that the legendary Fillmore West in San Francisco closed

Carlos Santana is rightfully credited (along with Ritchie Valens, Tito Puente, Jose Feliciano and Los Lobos) with bringing Latin rock into the American mainstream. We shouldn’t forget, though, that Santana was also an important fixture in the late ’60s San Francisco music scene that also included the likes of Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, and Creedence Clearwater Revival, all of whom owe a good measure of their success to promoter Bill Graham and his legendary Fillmore West.

The original Santana lineup first played the Fillmore in December 1968. The final Fillmore performance came on July 4, 1971 and is released for the first time in its entirety on this CD set.

Who Should Buy Santana III: Legacy Edition
•Anyone who is new to classic rock and wants to fully appreciate the work of this legendary group
•Santana completists who want to own every version of everything the band and any of its individual members ever recorded
•Rock fans who appreciate the exponentially superior sound of digital reproduction when compared to the vinyl discs we originally heard this music on

Old vs. New: Who Wins?

If there’s any danger here it is that reissuing classic Santana material, especially with the previously unreleased bonuses in this package, may overshadow Santana’s newest album (All That I Am). Of course, it could have the opposite effect and boost both concert ticket and album sales. Either way, this release is well-timed in relation to the Santana comeback that began in 1999 and is still going strong.

April 2, 2013 - Posted by | Santana III |

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