Santana | Supernatural – CD Review


By the end of the 1990s, the music of Carlos Santana was apparently in need of a major overhaul. Actually, many of Santana’s peers were up against the same wall, scrambling to stay in the game amidst social, economical and technological tides usurping the music industry at the time. Still, vintage rockers like Eric Clapton and Bonnie Raitt had managed to make records that sold and won awards. When Carlos Santana released Supernatural in 1999, he was welcomed into the comfy confines of contemporary hit-making with gobs of praise and accolades.

Nine Grammys, three Latin Grammys and a decade later, Supernatural has been reborn as a double CD packed with lots of extras. In addition to the 13 tracks comprising the original album, the Legacy Edition features a second disc with 11 tunes, seven previously unavailable. Among the nuggets are a stirring cover of Lighthouse’s 1971 hit “One Fine Morning,” a medley of Bob Marley & the Wailers’ “Exodus / Get Up Stand Up,” an instrumental version of “Smooth,” and an extended jam of “The Calling” with Eric Clapton. A 24-page booklet of photos and essay about the record written by veteran music journalist Hal Miller top off a stellar package any Santana fan will want and cherish.

Listening to the remastered album provides a new perspective on a record that could have divided many “old” and “new” Santana fans. With the help of music mogul Clive Davis, Santana created Supernatural with clear intentions of making it a hit-heavy showcase of styles laced with painless accessibility. Through it all is one indisputable thread to sustain the whole menagerie — the inimitable guitar work of Carlos Santana. On that note, there really isn’t much to gripe about.

By mixing quixotical, instrumentally strong trips like the opening “(Da Le) Yaleo,” “Africa Bamba” and “El Farol” with more commercially viable collaborations like “Love Of My Life” (with Dave Matthews and Cater Beauford), “Put Your Lights On” (with Everlast) and the chart-topping “Smooth” (with Rob Thomas) — Santana tapped into a creative wellspring that effectively kept the wolves at bay and roped in the youngsters. A sticky note of diversified interludes, ranging from simple blues to African jazz, gave Supernatural gumption enough to set up camp for 102 weeks on Billboard’s Top 200 (it sat at Number One, intermittently, for 12 weeks). Since then, it’s rolled over in theU.S. platinum records sweepstakes 15 times and sold 25 million copies worldwide.

Additional guests Cee-Lo, Eagle-Eye Cherry, Lauryn Hill, and Mexican supergroup Maná, certainly figured in as essential ingredients for the record’s international acclaim. The guest-spot formula was a little too premeditated and pop-oriented on Shaman, the 2002 follow-up that attempted to match the magic of its predecessor. These days, between Vegas residencies and sporadic touring commitments with a tried and true band, Carlos Santana is a spiritual avatar on a supernatural plane — and a man who can still make a guitar sing like no other.

~ Shawn PerryBookmark and Share