Classic Rock Review

The home of old record and bootleg reviews…

Carlos Santana & John McLaughlin Love Devotion Surrender (1973)


This disc is an absolute knock out. The music has withstood the test of time, the lp in vinyl form was released in 1973 as a departure from the gold lined, glittering road of commercial success that Santana had paved. Disappointing to many, a revelation to others, this LP at the time was met with great scepticism and controversy.

After all how could someone duplicate John Coltrane’s suite, “A Love Supreme? ” What was Santana doing with another guitar player, and not just any guitar player but John McLaughlin. And who was the Eastern fellow in the robe? And why did he look so different and what was up with the white outfits? The answers were in the music and Santana was definitely on a journey or a spiritual quest .

The attempt to record “A Love Supreme,” still fresh in the minds of jazz heads as the one of the ultimate Trane compositions that had religious qualities besides outstanding technique and tremendous exploration seemed almost blasphemous. Santana and McLaughlin’s version is a jazz-rock fusion masterpiece where the guitar solos are presented in blistering fashion at a frenetic pace that was otherworldly, almost to the point of inhuman speed and dexterity as though the other side were intervening to guide the then young musicians along the righteous path.

Beginning with the faster than the speed of light fret work slowed down by the organ tempo to Trane’ s “ta-ta ta tah” melody only to be pushed further along, at a blazing guitar pace that is (was)like to two gunslingers firing endless rounds of ammo from a machine gun. The lightning pace slows and builds several times in an expressive recreation of the spirit of Trane, free flowing improvisation kept in check by the lyrical beauty of “A Love Supreme.”

It is a beautiful thing. Another John Coltrane composition is presented which also happens to be one of my favourite (like anybody cares)Trane tunes entitled “Naima. ” The guitarists trade in their electric guitar speed for a softer with less edge melody that is soothing and lovely much like the original by Trane. It is one of the most beautiful jazz ballads ever written and performed with exquisite tenderness and respect. In a sense this was (is) a tribute disc , a further exploration of the spiritual path through music, breaking the chains and confinement of commercial success to make a musical statement graced in light and love along the lines of what Trane did when he recorded “A Love Supreme”.

There is(was) nothing irreverent here but rather Santana was(is) paying homage. Take a look at the names of the songs. “Let Us Go into the House of the Lord,” Meditation” and “The Divine Life.” Santana was leaving and anyone who wanted to see where he was going could go or compare notes from their own experiences. The guitar work by both of thee guys was(is) just amazing. The interchange , from one channel to the other is un-Godly or better yet, inspired by God. There is just enough variety in terms of fast guitar work and slower acoustic sounds to create a balance.

However the interchange between the two guitarists is absolutely incredible and not to be missed if you like rock guitar. For that matter the whole set of musicians is like an all star cast with Billy Cobham and Jan Hammer sharing the drum roles along with Don Alias. The stellar cast further includes the late Armando Peraza on congas and James (Mingo) Lewis on percussion. If you are rebuilding your collection or rediscovering your musical treasures add this one to the collection.

If you are new to Santana and keep reading old grey beards refer to his older albums that were better, than this might one of those. Not for everyone but surely for those that appreciate outstanding inspired guitar work with only hints of the Latinesque elements often associated with Carlos Santana.


April 14, 2013 - Posted by | Carlos Santana & John McLaughlin Love Devotion Surrender | ,

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