Classic Rock Review

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Soul Sacrifice: The Santana Story by Simon Leng (2000)


Review Simon Leng the author is to be commended for writing this comprehensive volume so crammed with facts, that it demands a second or third read to fully digest the plethora of information.
The Author starts off by giving us a sufficiently detailed description of Mexican culture and customs, detailing Jose Santana’s (Carlos’ father) life as a Mariachi violinist, tutoring his son in the art of Mexican street music. Moving on to details of Carlos’ early days right up to the formation of the early Santana bands. From then on the story of Carlos and the Santana bands is told in a collective manner that takes in the making of each album from the very first one right through to “Supernatural”.

The reader is perfumed with inside information, the politicking, the rationale and other events behind each of Santana’s releases. The lives of other musicians, key figures or otherwise, are also touched upon, bringing meaning and life to such well known names as “Chepito” Areas, Wayne shorter, as well as the lesser known ones that most fans of Santana would know little or nothing about.

To this end Leng is to be commended for a job well done, but falls short of expectations in the pictures department. Considering that Santana is such a colorful entity, giving us black and white shots is a disappointment. Still the pictures are good ones just the same but a poor effort for a book of this kind, and for this it misses out on the fifth star rating. Thirteen photos are provided grouped together on glossy paper, plus one on the back cover.

One annoying aspect is Leng’s persistence in referring to Carlos as “the Mexican”, and other musicians as well by their nationality. Although this descriptive tool can be effective within context, its persistence to the very end is rather banal.

The book also provides us with two surprises, a description of the night Jaco Pastorious got killed, and the fact that Carlos Santana cannot read music. At the very end is a treasure trove of information in the form of two discographies– original releases, and guest appearances. Santana devotees will find this an invaluable tool for tracking down recordings of Carlos playing on other artists’ albums. A real bonus for any musicologist or interested person, is a compilation of all musicians that have ever been involved with the Santana band, as well as offshoot bands, all with micro-biographies attached.

Definitely value for money, this book not only furnishes historical facts but makes for a useful source of reference as well. Highly recommended.

Review I chose to read this book for a project in Spanish class. I play guitar, and I have always liked Carlos Santana’s playing.

This was one of two books about Carlos Santana that I could find. Carlos had a rough childhood playing violin for money in Tijuana Mexico. When he moved to America as a teenager, he first picked up a guitar, and learned to play. He eventually started a band and played small clubs in the Bay Area of San Fransisco. Simon Leng does a very good job describing Santana the man, and Santana the band from the release of the first album, to the release of the last as a full band.

Leng describes the good times, and the bad times for the band, as well as the man. One part in particular that I really liked, was when the original Santana band played at the Woodstock Festival, in 1969. Leng describes it very well from the stage setup, to what the band actually played. Sometimes, the book was a little difficult to understand, mostly because of the fact that some words are spelled differently in England, where this book was written. Also, the book can get a little boring and slow but it always gets interesting again. Unlike other “rock star” biography’s, Soul Sacrifice focuses more on Santana’s life, than on his drug use, and womanizing.

I love to read books about bands, and guitarists, so naturally I wanted to read about Carlos Santana. This book is one i would definitely recommend if you play guitar, or if you love Carlos Santana’s playing/style of music. Also, It is a great book to read if you want to learn more about Santana. I believe that Simon Leng did very good research for this book, and I liked the way he wrote this book. I learned a lot from this book about an amazing guitar player, and his well earned fame.

It was a great book, and I hope that this review can help you.

May 17, 2013 - Posted by | Book Soul Sacrifice: The Santana Story by Simon Leng | ,

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