Classic Rock Review

The home of old record and bootleg reviews…

Santana Live At The Fillmore 1968


Review Six months before recording their great debut album and 21 years before his recent world wide sucess, Carlos Santana, Gregg Rolie and band played their hearts out for four nights at the Filmore West in December of 1968.
This album is not only a great Santana album but one of the great live albums of the 60’s. I often agree with the Amazon staff but their review here is way off. This CD contains 9 songs four of which would show up on the debut album and 5 were unreleased until now.

My favorite song on the CD is the totaly different version of “Treat” here than on the debut album. Gregg Rolie’s piano introduction is great. It is easy to forget how magical Carlos Santana and Rolie were togeather. Of the unreleased songs “Conquistadore Rides Again” is a highpoint. Great version of “Persuasion” too.

Amazing sound for a 60’s recording but Columbia Legacy always seems to do a great job. Forget the various live albums by The Doors, The Byrds, Joplin and the Airplane. This one ranks with Dylan live at The Royal Albert Hall, Hendrix and Redding at Monterey and the Stones at Madison Square Garden. That it was unreleased Until 1997 is all the more remarkable because most unreleased rock albums should stay that way. Enjoy!

Review Let’s start with the obvious. Michael Shrieve isn’t in the band yet, so the concert isn’t anything close to future Santana standards. However, this live album shows you how it all got started. This is the bare bones, the raw Santana. Santana had just signed on with Columbia Records when they played this concert. Obviously, the formula hasn’t been perfected yet, but this is the starting point, the beginning of what would be a future rock and roll phenomenon.

The first disc starts off strong with a long version of Jingo. Persuasion follows with a hard rock intro, pretty cool. Treat is beautifully played here, with Gregg Rolie pounding on the piano keys like there’s no tomorrow. All the other songs on this disc are great as well.

Disc two has a 14 minute Soul Sacrifice. It’s not anything close to the Woodstock version, but this one is good too, with a great organ solo by Gregg Rolie. As The Years Go By is a great blues song, and finishing things up is Freeway, a 30 minute jam that rocks hard all the way through.

You might be hesitant to get this album because it’s a Santana that is young, barely starting out. But the truth is, there’s no such thing as a bad Santana concert. Get Santana Live at the Fillmore 1968, it’s a great slice of time, with great music to have you jammin’ all night.

**If you want to hear THE Santana concert, pick up Santana III Legacy Edition. It contains the REAL band’s whole concert on the closing night of the Fillmore West in 1971. Great music with great musicianship. You can’t beat it.

Review When this 2-CD set was released, I jumped at the chance of having a pre-Woodstock recording of Santana. Unfortunately, far from the jubilation expressed from other reviewers, I found it to be a major disappointment. While the sound quality is excellent, and Carlos Santana and Gregg Rolie are in fine form, the backup sounded relatively bland to me. Being a percussionist myself, I must point the finger solely at Bob “Doc” Livingston, the drummer.

While it’s nice to have a documentation from his tenure with the band, and his playing is solid enough (with a decent version of “Jingo”), to me there was a “sameness” to his playing, relegating his role of time keeper rather than leading and propelling the band to higher places, which only started happenning after Michael Shrieve replaced Livingston. Listen to “Soul Sacrifice” (for one example). Just compare his playing to Shrieve’s from the Woodstock performance (which, frankly BLOWS AWAY this collection) and you’ll see what I mean. Every drummer that succeeded Shrieve carried on this tradition. To me this is a big reason why Santana is so successful (though definitely not the ONLY one). If Livingston continued with the band you would be looking at a very different Santana band indeed!

If you’re new to Santana, check out “The Best Of Santana” then get their first three CDs (Santana, Abraxas, and Santana III), and if you want their live stuff, really any other live Santana CD will do.

Three stars for Carlos’ and Gregg’s immense talent! Otherwise, there are MUCH better releases out there.

May 4, 2013 - Posted by | Santana Live At The Fillmore 68 |


  1. […] Classic Rock ReviewWhile the sound quality is excellent, and Carlos Santana and Gregg Rolie are in fine form, the backup sounded relatively bland to me. Being a percussionist myself, I must point the finger solely at Bob “Doc” Livingston, the drummer. […]

    Pingback by Santana - Live At The Fillmore 1968 « RVJ PREMIUM | December 19, 2013 | Reply

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    Comment by Megan | January 23, 2014 | Reply

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