Santana - Live at the Fillmore 1968

Live at the Fillmore 1968


First Appeared at The Music Box, October 1999, Volume 6, #10

Written by John Metzger


Over the past thirty years, Carlos Santana has crafted several truly amazing albums, but for the most part his studio output has put a glossy spin on his talents and failed to capture the fire of his live performances. Worse still, some of the concert recordings that have been released have also failed to capture his magic.

This is what makes Live at the Fillmore 1968 so special. The two-disc set compiles the best portions of a four-show run at the legendary San Francisco venue and captures Santana and his band just a few months prior to the release of their debut album. Itís full of the spiritual bliss and driving rhythms that faithful fans have come to expect from Santanaís concerts. Just listen as the group turns Babatunde Olatunjiís Jingo into a pulsing and hypnotic dance-beat that revolves around the swirling keyboards of Gregg Rolie and the percussive onslaught of Marcus Malone and Doc Livingston. Likewise, Treat floats through a dream-like trance of Rolieís jazzy piano flights, and Conquistadore Rides Again glides along the playful bass pattern served up by David Brown.

Throughout the nine tracks on Live at the Fillmore 1968, Santana churns out rhythms that melt into a symbiotic whole. The grooves coalesce into a wriggling mass of spiritual energy, upon which the guitarist works his divine powers. He makes his instrument sing, dance, laugh, and cry as he builds a bridge between Heaven and Earth. As Years Go Passing By is filled with a reflective sadness, and a 30-minute workout of Freeway, which also contains a brief foray into Willy and the Hand Jive, smokes with unyielding exuberance.

Thereís no doubt that the music on Live at the Fillmore 1968 speaks for itself. Itís an enchanting set that is a true testament to Santanaís talent. The only question remaining is why it took so long for this set to find its way out of the archives. starstarstarstarstar

Live at the Fillmore 1968 is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!


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