Santana - Supernatural: Legacy Edition


[Legacy Edition]


First Appeared in The Music Box, May 2010, Volume 17, #5

Written by John Metzger

Tue May 18, 2010, 06:30 AM CDT


Ten years ago, Carlos Santana and his collaborators ran the table at the Grammy Awards, winning nine trophies — including Album of the Year, Record of the Year, and Song of the Year — for their work on Supernatural. The outing marked a turning point in the guitarist’s career, one that found him not just joining Arista’s roster but also receiving tremendous assistance from legendary business icon Clive Davis. Davis courted Santana and took a keen interest in the project, pairing him with an assortment of guests that ran the gamut from hip-hop artist Lauryn Hill and Matchbox 20 front man Rob Thomas to the Latin-pop group Maná and guitar god Eric Clapton. There’s no doubt that the decisions that were made by Davis as he was sculpting the affair were designed to revitalize Santana’s fading star. Yet, Davis’ vision proved to be more astute than anyone likely had anticipated.

Two decades prior to the release of Supernatural, Santana had gained traction, largely because of his riveting, incendiary performance at Woodstock. In the wake of his appearance in upstate New York, Santana rapidly unveiled a series of albums — namely Santana, Abraxus, and Santana III — on which he used the Latin grooves of Tito Puente as the basis for putting his own stamp upon the blues-rock and conventional-pop styles that were dominating the airwaves. Santana’s restlessness, however, soon led him astray.

Alternating between jazz-fusion excursions and pop-oriented efforts, Santana followed his own creative path. In the process, however, he left some fans confused by his genre-jumping tendencies. Even worse, like many artists who have tried to remain in touch with the ever-changing pop-music scene, Santana inevitably sacrificed the intensity of his focus in order to chase the charts. Upon their release, his albums typically have felt as if they had been forced to adapt to their surroundings. In hindsight, while many of them have their moments, they also sound dated.

Supernatural follows a formula that will be familiar to anyone who has examined Santana’s output in any depth. If anything, as it tumbles from the blues-y alt-rock of Put Your Lights On to the neo-soul of Do You Like the Way to the rhythmic propulsion of Corazon Espinado, the effort manages to touch upon the full-range of textures that he has explored over the course of his career. Because Davis and Santana made concessions to the modern marketplace, there are points where the effort’s edges have been softened. Nevertheless, Supernatural is a pop-oriented album that approaches the mastery of Santana’s earliest endeavors.

At the same time, though, the criticisms that greeted Supernatural in 1999 continue to hold true in today’s world. The collection is rather lengthy, and its 75-minutes are akin to a double-album set from the days of vinyl. In addition, its genre-jumping framework isn’t always seamless, and unmistakably, some parts of the endeavor are better than others. Regardless, Supernatural has not lost any of its luster, and in fact, it has held up remarkably well.

As Santana’s subsequent outings have shown, Supernatural’s mammoth sales figures and countless accolades had little to do with the album’s seemingly endless parade of high-profile guests. In the 10 years since the set was issued, Santana has tried to replicate his success by surrounding himself with additional pools of talent that were plucked from various corners of the pop music scene. At best, however, both Shaman and All that I Am were pale imitations of Supernatural. At worst, they were artistic failures that felt more like marketing gimmicks than anything else.

For certain, the artists who joined Santana on Supernatural helped him to attract a crowd, but the reason that the album escaped from its focus group-derived framework and appealed to so many people is this: For the first time in years, Santana sounded as if he was fully engaged in the recording process. On track after track throughout the set, Santana’s hunger and enthusiasm for performing are palpable. Even if a song doesn’t quite stand on its own, Santana makes it work via the sheer emotional power of his guitar playing.

Santana’s zest for the material also extends to the hour-long sequence of bonus tracks that are featured on the second disc of Supernatural: Legacy Edition. In fact, from the spirited Bacalao Con Pan to a forceful medley of Bob Marley’s Exodus and Get Up Stand Up, there are enough quality recordings on the outing to have made three concise efforts instead of one overly long endeavor. Regardless, Supernatural demonstrated that Santana had rediscovered his calling, at least momentarily. Hopefully, it won’t take him another decade to find it again. starstarstar ½


Of Further Interest...

Mickey Hart - Supralingua

Los Lobos - Acoustic en Vivo

Quetzal - Worksongs


42nd Annual Grammy Award Winner:
Album of the Year

42nd Annual Grammy Award Winner:
Record of the Year - Smooth

42nd Annual Grammy Award Winner:
Song of the Year - Smooth

42nd Annual Grammy Award Winner:
Rock Album

42nd Annual Grammy Award Winner:
Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal
Maria Maria

42nd Annual Grammy Award Winner:
Pop Collaboration with Vocals

42nd Annual Grammy Award Winner:
Pop Instrumental Performance
El Farol

42nd Annual Grammy Award Winner:
Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal
Put Your Lights On

42nd Annual Grammy Award Winner:
Rock Instrumental Performance
The Calling


Supernatural: Legacy Edition is available from Barnes & Noble.
To order, Click Here!



1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!


Copyright © 2010 The Music Box